the official opposition is usually the party with the second-largest number of seats in the Commons. Its role is to criticise the government and to oppose many of its legislative proposals. It also seeks to present itself as an alternative government

Select committees

consisting of backbench MPs, the composition of Commons select committees reflects the make-up of the Commons. Select committees in the Commons investigate and report on the activities of government departments. Their counterparts in the Lords (such as the Constitution Committee and the Science and Technology Committee) carry out topic-based inquiries.

Parliamentary privilege

The right of MPs or Lords to make certain statements within Parliament without being subject to outside influence, including law. privilege

A Hung Parliament

When there is no majority, the Prime Minister in power before the general election stays in power and is given the first chance to create a government. They may decide:

    • to negotiate with another party or parties to build a coalition

    • to try and govern with a minority of Members of Parliament

    • to resign, usually after failing to negotiate a coalition, and recommend that the leader of the largest opposition party be invited to form a government. They may decide to form a coalition or govern as a minority government.

    • Example The 2010 Election

The Salisbury Convention

The power of the Lords is constrained by the 1945 Salisbury convention, a convention agreed shortly after the election of the Attlee government. Named after the Conservative opposition leader in the upper house, Lord Salisbury, the convention stated that the Lords would not oppose a bill that gave effect to a commitment contained in the manifesto of the winning party at a general election. The convention was a response to the election of Britain's first majority Labour government, which was committed to a radical reforming programme.