|British Parlament |
British Parliament.Great Britain is a constitutional monarchy. This means that it has amonarch as its Head of the State. The monarch reigns with the support ofParliament. The powers of the monarch are not defined precisely. Everythingtoday is done in the Queen’s name. It is her government, her armed forces,her law courts and so on. She appoints all the Ministers, including thePrime Minister. Everything is done however on the advice of the electedGovernment, and the monarch takes no part in the decision-making process.Once the British Empire included a large number of countries all over theworld ruled by Britain. The process of decolonisation began in 1947 withthe independence of India, Pakistan and Ceylon. Now there is no Empire andonly few small islands belong to Britain. In 1997 the last colony, HongKong, was given to China. But the British ruling classes tried not to loseinfluence over the former colonies of the British Empire. An association offormer members of the British Empire and Britain was founded in 1949. It iscalled the Commonwealth. It includes many countries such as Ireland, Burma,the Sudan, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and others. The Queen of GreatBritain is also a Head of the Commonwealth, and also the Queen of Canada,Australia, New Zealand...The British Constitution. The British Constitution is to a large extent aproduct of many historical events and has thus evolved aver many centuries.Unlike the constitutions of most other countries, it is not set out in anysingle document. Instead it is made up of statute law, common law andconventions. The constitution can be change by Act of Parliament, or bygeneral agreement to alter a convention.The Monarchy in Britain. When the Queen was born on 21 April 1926, hergrandfather, King George V, was on the throne and her uncle was his heir.The death of her grandfather and the abdication of her uncle (King EdwardVIII) brought her father to the throne in 1936 as King George VI. ElizabethII came to the throne an 6 February 1952 and was crowned on 2 June 1953.Since then she made many trips to different countries and to the UK also.The Queen is very rich, as are others members of the royal family. Inaddition, the government pays for her expenses as Head of the State, for aroyal yacht, train and aircraft as well as for the upkeep of severalpalaces. The Queen’s image appears on stamps, notes and coins.The Powers of Parliament. The three elements, which make up Parliament –theQueen, the House of Lords and the elected House of Commons –, areconstituted on different principles. They meet together only on occasionsof symbolic significance such as the State Opening of Parliament, when theCommons are invited by the Queen to the House of Lords.Parliament consists of two chambers known as the House of Lords and theHouse of Commons. Parliament and the monarch have different roles in thegovernment of the country, and they only meet together on symbolicoccasions such as coronation of a new monarch or the opening of Parliament.In reality, the House of Commons is the only one of the three which is truepower. It is here that new bills are introduced and debated. If themajority of the members aren’t in favour of a bill it goes to the House ofLords to be debated and finally to the monarch to be signed. Only than itbecomes law. Although a bill must be supported by all three bodies, theHouse of Lords only has limited powers, and the monarch hasn’t refused tosign one.The Functions of Parliament. The main functions of Parliament are: to passlaws; to provide, by voting taxation, the means of carrying on the work ofgovernment; to scrutinise government policy and administration; to debatethe major issues of the day. In carrying out these functions Parliamenthelps to bring the relevant facts and issues before the electorate. Bycustom, Parliament is also informed before all-important internationaltreaties and agreements are ratified.аParliament has a maximum duration of five years, but in practice generalelections are usually held before the end of this term. Parliament isdissolved and rights for a general election are ordered by the Queen on theadvice of the Prime Minister. The life of a Parliament is divided intosessions. Each usually lasts for one year – normally beginning and endingin October or November. The adverse number of "sitting" days in a sessionis about 168 in the House of Commons and about 150 in the House of Lords.At the start of each session the Queen's speech to Parliament outlines theGovernment’s policies and proposed legislative programme.The House of Commons. The House of Commons is elected and consists of 651Members of Parliament (MPs). At present there are 60 women, three Asian andthree black Mps. Of the 651 seats, 524 are for England, 38 for Wales, 72for Scotland, and 17 for Northern Ireland. Members are paid an annualsalary of ‡30,854. The chief officer of the House of Commons is theSpeaker, elected by the MPs to preside over the House. The House of Commonsplays the major role in law making.MPs sit on two sides of the hall, one side for the governing party and theother for the opposition. Parliament has intervals during its work. MPs arepaid for their parliamentary work and have to attend the sittings. MPs haveto catch the Speaker's eye when they want to speak, then they rise fromwhere they have been sitting to address the House and must do so withouteither reading a prepared speech or consulting notes.The House of Lords. The House of Lords consists of the Lords Spiritual andthe Lords Temporal. The Lords Spiritual are the Archbishops of Canterburyand York, and the 24 next most senior bishops of the Church of England. TheLords Temporal consist of: all hereditary peers of England, Scotland,Great Britain and the United Kingdom; all other life peers. Peerages, bothhereditary and life, are created by the Sovereign on the advice of thePrime Minister. They are usually granted in recognition of service inpolitics or other walks of life. In 1992 there were 1,211 members of theHouse of Lords, including the two archbishops and 24 bishops. The LordsTemporal consisted of 758 hereditary peers and 408 life peers. The House ispresided over by the Lord Chancellor, who takes his place on the woolsackas the Speaker of the House.The division of Parliament into two Houses goes back over some 700 yearswhen feudal assembly ruled the country. In modern times, real politicalpower rests in the elected House although members of the House of Lordsstill occupy important cabinet posts.The Political Party System. The present political system depends upon theexistence of organised political parties, each of which presents itspolicies to the electorate for approval. The parties are not registered orformally recognised in law, but in practice most candidates in elections,and almost all winning candidates, belong to one of' the main parties.For the last 150 years there were only 2 parties: the Conservative Partyand the Labour Party. аnew party – the Liberal Democrats – was formed in1988. Social Democratic Party is also the new one founded in 1981. Otherparties include two nationalist parties, Plaid Cymru (founded in Wales in1925) and the Scottish National Party (founded in 1934).The effectiveness of the party system in Parliament rests largely on therelationship between the Government and the Opposition parties. Dependingon the relative strengths of the parties in the House of Commons, theOpposition may seek to overthrow the Government by defeating it in a voteon a "matter of confidence". In general, however, its aims are tocontribute to the formation of policy and legislation by constructivecriticism; to oppose government proposal - it considers objectionable;to seek amendments to government bills; and to put forward its own policiesin order to improve its chances of winning the next general election.Because of the electoral method in use, only two major parties obtain seatsin the House of Commons. People belonging to smaller political parties joinone of the larger parties and work from within to make their influencefelt. The exception to this are members of the Scottish National and WelshNationalist Parties, who, because their influence votes are concentrated inspecific geographical areas, can manage to win seats although their totalsupport is relatively small.Her Majesty's Government: Prime Minister, the Cabinet. Her Majesty'sGovernment is the body of ministers responsible for theadministration of national affairs. The Prime Minister is appointed by theQueen, and all other ministers are appointed by the Queen on therecommendation of the Prime Minister. Most ministers are members of theCommons, although the Government is also fully represented by ministers inthe Lords. The composition of governments can vary both in the number of ministers and in the titles of some offices. New ministerial officesmay be created, others may be abolished and functions may be transferredfrom one minister to another.The Prime Minister is also, by tradition, First Lord of the Treasury andMinister for the Civil Service. The Prime Minister’s unique position ofauthority derives from majority support in the House of Commons and fromthe power to appoint and dismiss ministers. By modern convention, thePrime Minister always sits in the House of Commons. The Prime Ministerpresides over the Cabinet, is responsible for the allocation of functionsamong ministers and informs the Queen at regular meetings of thegeneral business of the Government. The Prime Minister's Office issituated at 11 Downing Street.The Cabinet is composed of about 20 ministers chosen by the Prime Minister.The functions of the Cabinet are initiating and deciding on policy, thesupreme control of government and the co-ordination of governmentdepartments. The exercise of these functions is vitally affected bythe fact that the Cabinet is a group of party representatives, dependingupon majority support in the House of Commons. The Cabinet meets in privateand its proceedings are confidential. Its members are bound by their oathas Privy Counsellors not to disclose information about its proceedings,although after 30 years Cabinet papers may be made available forinspection.So Great Britain is the constitutional monarchy. Monarch is the Head of theState. But Queen or King rules with the support of the parliament. Andpractically monarch have no real political power. The main politicaldecisions are made by the Parliament and Cabinet. And the House of Commonsare more powerful.