The Diversification of Committee Systems in Parliaments of Small States: A Study of Trinidad and Tobago and Dominica
In democratic states the legislature has various functions. One of the key functions is to scrutinize the legislative proposals of the executive and keep an eye on government activities. The committee system is the central organ that allows legislators to concentrate on particular areas of activity. It is therefore the most significant legislative mechanism and is often referred to as “miniature legislatures” or “microcosms” of their parent bodies. Parliamentary committees have come to play a fundamental role in the parliamentary system of democracy. Parliamentary committees today are established as a part of Westminster life. The essential aspect of the chapter is to explore the broad vision for reform of the committee system, guided by the insight that the key role of committees is to secure “government by explanation”, in which the executive is required to explain its proposals and justify its actions. Hence, it has become worthwhile to examine parliamentary committees in the Commonwealth Caribbean by drawing on the data collected from two questionnaires administered to MPs in Dominica and Trinidad and Tobago in 2009, with the objective of measuring the perceptions of MPs concerning the diversification of parliamentary committees and securing executive accountability.
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