The UK Parliament is bicameral, with the House of Lords (upper house) and the House of Commons (lower house). While the House of Lords’ role is to scrutinise (review and amend) bills that have been approved by the House of Commons, the prime minister is answerable to, and must maintain the support of, the latter. The members of the House of Lords are appointed (‘Lords Spiritual’ –senior bishops of the Church of England– and ‘Lords Temporal’ – members of the Peerage) while the MPs of the House of Commons are democratically elected.
Both chambers share responsibility for making laws and checking government action. The House of Commons scrutinises government activities through “Question Time” once a week. MPs of the governing party and the opposition have the opportunity to orally ask questions to the prime minister and other cabinet ministers. Moreover, MPs may also make inquiries in writing. Scrutiny of government policy is also undertaken by committees made up of MPs or Lords. Appointed by the House of Commons, the Foreign Affairs Committee is charged with examining the expenditure, administration and policy of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), including human rights policy.