COMMONS

Inquiry continues into Role and Powers of Prime Minister

06 December 2012

There have been a number of significant developments in the context of the role and powers of the Prime Minister since the launch of the Committee’s inquiry in January 2011, including the passing of the Fixed-term Parliaments Act in September 2011, the publication of the Cabinet Manual in October 2011, and the agreement between the UK Government and the Scottish Government for a referendum on independence for Scotland, which was published in October 2012.  The coalition Government has also now had more than two and a half years to bed down. 

With these developments in mind, the Committee intends to take further oral evidence as part of this inquiry in the new year.  Dates will be announced in due course.  The Committee is also calling for written evidence on the following specific aspects of the Prime Minister’s role and powers. Written evidence may consider all or a selection of these questions:

Prerogative powers

  • What has been the impact of moving the prerogative power to dissolve Parliament to a statutory footing? How have Whitehall and Westminster responded to the new planning horizon created by five-year fixed-term Parliaments? Are there any further prerogative powers that should be moved to a statutory footing? 

Coalition government  

  • What has been the impact of coalition government on the exercise of the Prime Minister’s prerogative powers, and on the way in which the Prime Minister carries out his role more generally?

Codification

  • What is the current and likely future impact of the Cabinet Manual on the way in which the Prime Minister’s role is perceived and performed? Is there scope for further codification of the role of the Prime Minister? 
  • What is the role of the Prime Minister in relation to interpreting guidelines for Ministers, as set out in the Cabinet Manual and the Ministerial Code?

Organisation and staffing of Number Ten

  • How effective is the support the Prime Minister receives in discharging his or her functions? 
  • how does the Prime Minister’s office operate in relation to the Cabinet Office?
  • would the Prime Minister’s office function more effectively as a separate Department?

Prime Minister’s relationship with the devolved Administrations in the UK

  • What is the role of the Prime Minister in managing relations between the UK Government and the devolved Administrations, including the effectiveness of the Joint Ministerial Committee as a forum for maintaining positive relations?

How to respond

The deadline for written submissions is Thursday 31 January 2013. Submissions should not significantly exceed 3,000 words unless this has been cleared in advance with the Committee secretariat. Written responses to the Committee will be treated as evidence and may be published.

If you object to your response being made public in a volume of evidence, please make this clear when it is submitted.

Responses should be submitted by email in Microsoft Word (no pdfs please) or rich text format to [email protected]

If you do not have access to email, you may send a paper copy of your response to the Clerk of the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee, Committee Office, First Floor, 7 Millbank, London SW1P 3JA.

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