More about Parliament and the Coalition Government

This page outlines the main functions of Parliament, the cabinet members of the Coalition Government and the Political Party breakdown of the current Parliament.


The Functions of Parliament

The major functions of Parliament are:

  • To make all UK law (legislation). All three constituent parts of Parliament must agree before a new law can be passed.
  • To scrutinise Government policy and administration. This work is carried out in debates, parliamentary questions and through Select Committees. These procedures compel the Government to publicly explain and justify their policies.
  • To control finance. The House of Commons grants the Government permission to control taxes, decide what taxes are collected, and how this money should be spent.
  • To protect the public and safeguard the rights of individuals. Parliament safeguards the interests of the public as a whole, and MPs can also help to protect the rights of the individual.
  • To examine European proposals before they become law. The House of Lords and House of Commons both have committees that examine European proposals, which allows Parliament to prepare and alter its laws to bring the UK into line.
  • To hear criminal and civil appeals in the House of Lords, the highest Court of Appeal in Britain.
  • To debate the major issues of the day. Both Houses of Parliament hold general debates on matters of national and international importance.


Coalition Government

As no single party won over 50% of the seats in the House of Commons following the general election on 6 May 2010, the Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties formed a coalition government.

The Coalition Government cabinet, made up of about 20 senior ministers chosen by the Prime Minister, decides on government policy and coordinates the work of the different government departments. The cabinet members, as of September 2012 are:

  • David Cameron – Prime Minister (Conservative)
  • Nick Clegg – Deputy Prime Minister (Liberal Democrat)
  • George Osborne – Chancellor (Conservative)
  • Theresa May – Home Secretary (Conservative)
  • William Hague – Foreign Secretary (Conservative)
  • Vince Cable – Business Secretary (Liberal Democrat)
  • Eric Pickles – Communities Secretary (Conservative)
  • Grant Shapps – Conservative Party Chair (Conservative)
  • Marie Miller – Culture Secretary (Conservative)
  • Philip Hammond – Defence Secretary (Conservative)
  • Michael Gove – Education Secretary (Conservative)
  • Edward Davey – Energy & Climate Change Secretary (Liberal Democrat)
  • Owen Paterson – Environment Secretary (Conservative)
  • Jeremy Hunt – Health Secretary (Conservative)
  • Justine Greening – International Development Secretary (Conservative)
  • Lord Strathclyde – Leader of the Lords (Conservative)
  • Ken Clarke – Lord Chancellor (Conservative)
  • Theresa Villers – Northern Ireland Secretary (Conservative)
  • Michael Moore – Scottish Secretary (Liberal Democrat)
  • Patrick McLoughlin – Transport Secretary (Conservative)
  • David Jones – Welsh Secretary (Conservative)
  • Iain Duncan Smith – Work & Pensions Secretary (Conservative)


Political Parties

Following the May 2010 General Election, the 650 seats in the House of Commons were broken down into the following parties:

  • Conservative – 307
  • Labour – 258
  • Liberal Democrat – 57
  • DUP (Democratic Unionist Party) – 8
  • SNP (Scottish National Party) – 6
  • Sinn Fein – 5
  • Plaid Cymru – 3
  • SDLP (Social Democrat & Labour Party) – 3
  • Green – 1
  • Alliance – 1
  • Independent – 1
  • Speaker – 1