The UK Government

The UK Government is in charge of running the country and deciding the way taxes are spent. Different government departments have responsibility for separate areas of business for example, the Department of Health or the Department of Transport.

Led by the Prime Minister, the UK government is formed by the political party (or coalition of parties) with the greatest representation in the House of Commons. The PM selects a team of MPs and members of the House of Lords to help run the country. All the other MPs and members of the House of Lords carry out the work of Parliament.

Parliament is responsible for approving and changing the country's laws. Most new laws presented to Parliament are suggested by the government. To pass a new law both the House of Commons and the House of Lords must agree it is a good idea. However, the Commons alone is responsible for making decisions on financial Bills, such as proposing new taxes. The Lords can consider these Bills but cannot block or amend them.

MPs are responsible for keeping an eye on the work of the government and members of both the Commons and the Lords will look at how the government is spending the money it receives from taxes.

Select committees

One way members of Parliament scrutinise or check on the government is by regularly meeting in small groups called select committees. These committees can make recommendations to the government on particular issues such as education, the environment and foreign affairs.

For example, the Petitions Committee of the House of Commons exists to consider any petitions or e-petitions put forward by member and make recommendations for which petitions should be debated in Parliament.

Select committee recommendations are given to the head of the government department (called a minister) in charge of that particular issue. This means reports by the Health Committee will be sent to the minister responsible for that area of health policy.

There are also Bill Committees, which are created on a temporary basis to scrutinise in detail new laws which are being proposed. For example, a committee exists to scrutinise the proposed law creating a High Speed Rail line between London and Birmingham.