The Legislative arm of Government: Its powers and Functions

Another name for the Legislative arm of government is the parliament. The legislature is one of the branches of government which works hand in hand with other arms (the Executive and Judiciary) to achieve better system government by performing its roles

Most times, the legislature appears to be the most powerful branch of government due to its vast powers in law making. However, the law itself is always there to curtail it’s powers and functions.

Furthermore, the functions of the parliament are not far fetched as they are outlined in the Constitution of a country. So, in this article, we shall examine extensively, the functions and powers of the legislative organ of government in a State or county.

Before we start let’s see the meaning the legislative branch of government.

What does legislative arm mean?

The legislative arm of government means an organ of government which makes law. In other words, it discuses national issues and makes rules and regulations improving those issues.

Making of laws is the major function of the parliament. It is exclusive to it. The parliament still has other numerous roles to play to improve governance in a State. Let’s begin to examine them one after the other. Keep reading!


The major Functions of the government

Roles of the Legislative arm of Government

Legislative arm of Government

The Legislative arm of Government

Law making

Making of laws is the major role of the parliament. They discuss issues affecting the country either financially, socially l, economically, or otherwise and make laws to ameliorate or scrap such problem.

Laws made by the parliament at the national level are called Act of Parliament. Law made at the subordinating level are called laws.

While the Legislature makes the law, they do it in like with the strict provisions of the Constitution. Any law made outside the dictates of the Constitution is void. In some countries such as Nigeria, he law requires that the parliament follows the law making process sequentially, not skipping any step. This is how the law is made in Nigeria:

  • First reading
  • Second reading
  • Committee stage
  • Report stage
  • Third reading and
  • Assent by the President.

If the parliament skips any of these steps, they’re bound to start afresh and re-pass the law as no law was formerly enacted.

Powers of Investigation

The legislature conducts investigations in to government departments to ascertain how the truthfulness or falsity of an alleged mismanagement.

For instance, after the parliament approves funds to the executive, they don’t sit back and watch the money go into irrelevancies instead it monitors it and ensures it is spent in what is is originally meant for.

As they investigate, they also have the powers to invite the Minister in charge of a particular department to ask questions concerning the mismanagement in his department. If at last the investigation proves positive and the Minister in charge is founds wanting such Minister will be sanctioned.

Financial control

It controls the raising and spending of money by the executive. Like I mentioned earlier, it approves funds and monitors it’s expenditure.

Whenever the executive proposes any project, it is the duty of the legislature to approve money for it and also see how it’s spent.

Power of Approval

The legislature had the power to approve, disapprove or adjust appointments of senior public officers such as the ministers and ambassadors.

It also has the power to approve or reject the appointment of justices or judges. All these appointments are made by the executive arm of government but

Deliberative Function

A modern legislature’s important job is to deliberate on subjects of national importance, public issues, challenges, and needs. The legislature uses this function to reflect popular opinion on a variety of problems. People may learn a lot from the debates that take place in the legislature.

Custodian of National finances

“The state legislature is the guardian of the national purse,” according to an almost unanimous rule. It is in charge of the nation’s finances and holds the nation’s purse. The executive cannot raise or spend money without the approval of the legislature. Every year, the executive must prepare a budget for the following fiscal year and have it approved by the legislature. The executive must account for actual income and expenditure from the previous year, as well as expected income and expenditure for the coming year, in the budget.

Not only does the legislature pass the budget, but it is also the sole body that may approve the imposition, repeal, or collection of any tax. Furthermore, the legislature has oversight of all financial transactions and expenditures made by the executive branch.

Control over the Executive

A modern legislature can exert authority over the executive branch. The executive is collectively responsible before the legislature in a parliamentary system of government, such as the one in place in India, for all of its acts, decisions, and policies. It has to answer to the legislature. By voting a vote of no confidence or rejecting an executive policy, budget, or law, the legislature has the right to dismiss the executive.

All ministers, including the Prime Minister, are effectively members of the legislature. They are bound by the Parliament’s rules and procedures.

Electoral Purposes:

Electoral tasks are normally performed by a legislature. The Vice-President is chosen by the Indian Parliament’s two houses. The Electoral College, which elects the President of India, is made up of all elected MPs and MLAs. The members of the Federal Council (Executive) and the Federal Tribunal are chosen by the Swiss Federal Legislature (Judiciary).

Quasi-Judicial Functions

It is normal to give the legislature some judicial authority. Typically, the legislature is charged with acting as a court of impeachment, or an investigating court, for the purpose of prosecuting and removing high-ranking public officials on charges of treason, misdemeanors, and high crimes. In India, the President can be impeached by the Union Parliament. It also has the authority to pass a resolution ordering the dismissal of Supreme Court and High Court judges for misbehavior or incapacity.

Miscellaneous Functions

Specific executive functions have been assigned to some legislatures. For example, the US Senate (Upper House of the US Legislature) has the authority to confirm or reject the US President’s significant appointments. It also has the authority to accept or reject treaties negotiated by the US President. India’s economy is booming.

The Rajya Sabha has been given the authority to create or abolish any All India Service. Legislators also have the responsibility of accepting, rejecting, or changing all of the executive’s policies and programs. The Congress (Legislature) of the United States has the authority to declare war under the US Constitution.

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