Control over Government in the UK

In US politics, it is common to get questions on control over the Federal Bureaucracy (the US version of the Civil Service). While these are less common in the UK, it can be useful to look at in terms of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, and Parliament’s oversight function.

The backlog of passport’s of the recent weeks demonstrates how little control it could be argued that the PM has over his departments, or that Parliament have in calling them to account. While the Head of the Passport Office, Paul Pugh, was called to answer questions in front of Parliament, they have few powers beyond these questions; arguably the media’s reporting of this holds the government to account more than Parliament actually does. Equally, there is little the PM can do; Theresa May has apologised for the delay but the PM is hardly likely to remove such a ‘big beast’ who is a prominent candidate for Tory leadership. At least she is currently bound by Cabinet Collective Responsibility.

A really useful example!