Scrutiny and Oversight

There are a number of ways in which the function of scrutiny is performed. The most important are:

· Questions to Ministers, which may call for oral or written answers. Prime Minister's Questions, a weekly question-and-answer session in the chamber of the Commons, has been criticised for being unduly theatrical and largely a point-scoring exercise dominated by the PM and the leader of the opposition.

· Select committees, which shadow individual government departments in the Commons.

Case Study: Test and Trace

· Debates, which can be impressive set-piece events, such as the August 2013 House of Commons debate in which the Cameron government was defeated on its proposal to undertake military action in Syria. Since 2010 the creation of the Backbench Business Committee has given MPs more power to shape the agenda by allowing them to choose the topic for debate on one day per week. Debates in the Lords are often given credit for their high quality, with participants commonly including recently retired individuals with expertise in a particular field, but they rarely influence the course of events.