THE CONSTITUTIONAL FUNCTIONS OF PARLIAMENT
IN order to understand the role of Parliament1 in scrutinizing administrative action it is necessary to draw a distinction between two different functions which Parliament performs. In the first place it is a legislative body. Parliament, of course, legislates on a great many matters, a lot of which have nothing directly to do with the powers of government. But many Acts of Parliament are concerned with conferring and defining the administrative and legislative powers of central and local government and of other public bodies.
The most striking feature of our parliamentary system is the extent to which the legislative process (from the first stages of formulation of policy, through the drafting stage, and right up to the final stage of voting on the third reading of a Bill) is under the control of the government.2 This is not to say, however, that Parliament plays no part at the policy-formulation stage. Debates initiated by the opposition and debates on Green or White Papers issued by the government do allow policies to be aired before the proposals reach an advanced stage. But much more important in the policy-formulation process is the wellestablished practice of all governments of engaging in extensive consultation with interest groups outside Parliament which will be affected by the proposed legislation. Groups, such as trade unions, employers' organizations, business, consumer and environmental groups, are constantly in touch with government seeking to influence the formulation of policy and legislation which will affect them. (This is as true in relation____________________