The legislature, one of the organs of modern government, is a representative body elected by the people.
The mandate of the legislature is renewable after a period, usually four years or five years.
In Britain and Ghana, the legislature is called parliament; in Japan, it is called Th National Diet; in Israel, it is called Knesset; in Germany, it is the Bundestag; in the U.S.A it is called Congress and in Togo, it is called The National Assembly.
The functions performed by the legislature are very similar across the globe. The following are the major functions performed by parliament.
1. Law-making: For a detailed discussion to produce good laws the house is usually divided into committees.
2. Determination and control of expenditures. The legislature is the controller of the national purse. This is based on the principle of no taxation without representation.
3. Approval of government policies, treaties, appointments etc
4. Discussion of important national issues: The debates in the house give an opportunity for the expression of public opinion.
5. Judicial functions: e.g. the House of Lords in Britain is the highest court of appeal. In the United States, the Upper House known as the Senate acts as a court for the trial of an impeached president.
6. Control of the Executive: Ministers are accountable to parliament. During Question Time they are taken to task over issues affecting their ministries. In the parliamentary system, parliament can pass a “Vote of No Confidence” in the government. Though the U.S. President is not a member of parliament he can be removed from office by Congress through the process of impeachment.
7. Training ground for higher political office holders: Some members of the legislature have gone ahead to become presidents or prime ministers of their countries.