United Kingdom

House of Commons

Political system
Parliamentary system
Structure of parliament
Bicameral
IPU membership
Yes

Oversight

Oversight tools

Parliament/Chamber has the power to summon members of the government
Yes

Sources:

The House of Commons can order members of the government, who are MPs, to attend the House or select committees. However, the House cannot order the attendance of a member of the House of Lords (Erskine May, Parliamentary Practice, 25th edition, 2019, para 38.34).

Attendance of Members and Officers

https://erskinemay.parliament.uk/section/5916/attendance-of-members-and-officers

Parliament/chamber has the power to summon senior government officials
Yes

Sources:

in practice, the Government take the view that civil servants give evidence “on behalf of their ministers and under their direction”. Ministers therefore decide which official should represent them (Erskine May, para 38.35).

The Committee on Public Accounts normally takes evidence from permanent secretaries of government departments, as accounting officers (Erskine May, para 38.65).

Ministers decide which officials attend committees in both Houses.

Powers of select committees - MP's Guide to Procedure

https://guidetoprocedure.parliament.uk/collections/luhXGjBq/powers-of-select-committees

Parliament has the power to approve key government appointments
Not applicable

Sources:

Appointments may be subject to pre-appointment scrutiny.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/pre-appointment-scrutiny-by-house-of-commons-select-committees

There are a very small number of appointments, generally for independent bodies, that the House of Commons has to approve before they can be made. And very unusually, the chair of the Office of Budget Responsibility is appointed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, “with the consent of the Treasury Committee of the House of Commons” (see Budget Responsibility and National Audit Act 2011 (chapter 4), Schedule 1, para 1).

Approximate number of government appointments subject to parliamentary approval
Not applicable
Parliament/chamber has the power to approve key government appointments
No
Number of written questions asked, per year
53,961
(2022)
Number of written questions answered by the government, per year
53,773
(2022)

Notes: The House of Commons maintains statistics on written questions by parliamentary session rather than by year (e.g. 2012-2013, 2013-2014 etc.).

Percentage of written questions answered by the government, per year
99.7%
(2022)
Parliament/chamber has power to carry out inquiries
Yes
Number of parliamentary inquiries, per year
271
(2022)

Head of State and/or Government

Parliament’s role in the designation of the Head of Government
Parliament does not play a role

Notes: The Head of Government (e.g. the Prime Minister) is appointed by His Majesty the King. The Prime Minister has to display the support of a majority in the House of Commons, though there is no formal role in his or her appointment as Prime Minister.

The Head of Government is also the Head of State
No
Parliament’s role in the designation of the Head of State
Parliament does not play a role

Notes: Her Majesty the King is Head of State.

Impeachment and confidence motions

Parliament is automatically dissolved when a motion of no confidence is adopted
No
Chambers that can be dissolved when a motion of no confidence is adopted

Impeachment procedure

There is a procedure for parliament to dismiss or impeach the following persons/institution
Other
Chambers that play a role in the dismissal or impeachment
Lower chamber
Upper chamber

Notes: Misconduct encompassing criminal behaviour would be referred to the police. Each House has a code of conduct that all members, including Ministers, are expected to comply with. Complaints about breaches of the respective codes are dealt with by the relevant House’s Standard Commissioner and Standards Committee. Both Houses have the power to apply penalties for breach of the code of conduct. The House of Commons has the power to expel a Member.

Sources: See House of Commons Committee on Standards and House of Lords Committee for Privileges and Conduct.

No confidence processes

There is a procedure for parliament to express no confidence in the following persons/institution
The whole Government
The Head of Government
Individual members of the Executive
Chambers that play a role in motions of no confidence
Lower chamber

Sources:

Fixed-Term Parliaments Act 2011.

Confidence motions: https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/research-briefings/sn02873/

Historical data for IPU membership

Historical data for IPU membership
Year IPU membership
2020-09
List of values for 2020-09
No
2019-04
List of values for 2019-04
No
2018-06
List of values for 2018-06
No