Prime Ministerial accountability to Parliament

This project aims to examine the accountability of the Prime Minister to Parliament by investigating the efficacy of Liaison Committee evidence sessions and identifying how they hold the Prime Minister to account. It will make a significant contribution to our understanding of both the limits and the possibilities of democratic accountability mechanisms in the UK.

The Prime Minister is not formally accountable to Parliament. Following recent reports on the role and power of the Prime Minister and on improving the effectiveness of Parliamentary committees, this study focuses on the functioning and effectiveness of the Liaison Committee sessions with the Prime Minister. These sessions have questioned three Prime Ministers since 2002 and provide a rich source of material relating to the relationship between the Prime Minister and Parliament, aside from appearances on the floor of the House.

The central research questions are:

  • How effective the Liaison Committee is in scrutinising the Prime Minister?
  • How are the sessions utilised by Parliamentarians, the Prime Minister and others?
  • How do other administrations hold the Prime Minister (or equivalent) to account?

Working in partnership with Liaison Committee staff, this study examines primary and secondary source material from the Committee and interviews current and former members, prime ministerial staff and journalists to understand how the Committee functions and how it is viewed.