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Political System In The UK

Autor /Beatryks Dodano /11.11.2011


Great Britain is a parliamentary monarchy with an unwritten constitution consisting of historic documents such as the Magna Carta, the Petition of Right, and the Bill of Rights (1689); statutes; judicial precedents (common law); and custom. The constitution is flexible and may be changed by an act of Parliament.


The British monarch is head of state. Executive power, however, is wielded by a Prime Minister, who is head of government, and a committee of ministers called the cabinet. The Prime Minister is usually the leader of the majority party in the House of Commons. By custom, cabinet ministers are selected from among members of the two houses of Parliament. Cabinet ministers are also among the members of the Privy Council, the traditional, but now largely ceremonial, advisory body to the Crown.


In principle, the "Crown in Parliament" is supreme (legislation passed by Parliament, which consists of the House of Commons (elected directly by the people) and the House of Lords (made up of hereditary peers and appointive members-archbishops, senior bishops, law lords, and life peers) becomes law upon royal assent. In practice, the Prime Minister and the cabinet, who initiates virtually all proposed bills and who are politically responsible for the administration of the law and the affairs of the nation, dominate legislation). Fiscal legislation is always initiated in the House of Commons and other legislation almost always. Since the Parliament Act of 1911, the House of Lords have been unable to block fiscal legislation. By the terms of the Parliament Act of 1949, the Lords may not disapprove other bills if they have been passed by two successive annual sessions of the Commons. The power of the Crown to veto legislation has not been exercised in over 280 years.

The House of Lords

1. Composed hereditary peers and peeresses (but it'll be changed), 2 Anglican archbishops, and 24 bishops (to the end of authority), and life peers whose titles are not hereditary. Life peers include lords of appeal and an increasing number of lords created in recognition of distinguished service (often in politics).

2. The Peerage Act of 1963 enables a lord to relinquish his title for life and thus to become eligible for election to the House of Commons and for selection as Prime Minister.

3. The full House of Lords numbers more than 1200, but average daily attendance is less than 400. Only three members are required for a quorum.

4. Bills from the House of Commons are passed to the House of Lords for discussion. Although no vote from the House of Lords is necessary to pass legislation, the body often suggests revisions and provides a forum for debate free from party politics.

The House of Commons

1. Members of the House of Commons are elected from geographical constituencies. The voting age for British subjects was lowered to 18 in 1969. In Great Britain, each constituency approximates a population of 60,000. In Northern Ireland, with 17 representatives, the population base is somewhat larger.2

2. Total membership of the Commons now numbers 651. 40 required for a quorum. Life of a Parliament is 5 years (unless dissolved earlier or extended by special statute in times of war or national emergency. Parliament is dissolved by the sovereign at the end of its five-year term or on advice of the Prime Minister). All members of the House of Commons are then subject to the general election.

3. Acts passed by Parliament are implemented by Orders in Council, prepared by the minister responsible and promulgated by proclamation of the Crown.

4. The Prime Minister may drop individual cabinet members entirely or reassign them as preferred. This power helps to maintain the Prime Minister's leadership and is exercised in most governments periodically. Ministers may resign their posts without leaving the Parliament.

Political Parties

Dating from the 17th century, is an essential element in the working constitution. Since the end of World War I (1914-1918), the Conservative Party and the Labour Party have been dominant. The Labour Party is generally socialist. The Conservative Party has favoured private enterprise with minimal state regulation.

Minor parties in the early 1990s included the Scottish Nationalist, Plaid Cymru (Welsh Nationalist), Ulster Unionist, Social Democratic, Communist, and Green parties. The Liberal Party, which provided governments periodically for decades, lost electoral support and merged with dissidents from Labour and the Conservatives to form the Liberal Democrat Party. In the general election of 1992, minor parties won 44 seats from the total of 651 in the House of Commons.

Local Government

The government of Great Britain is unitary in structure. Thus, the powers of local government derive from parliamentary acts, and responsibility for the overall administration of the country rests with specified cabinet ministries. Local authorities, however, are essentially independent. The present structure was established by a Local Government Act in 1972. Shire counties have county, district, and parish councils. Metropolitan areas have joint authorities, district councils, and parish councils. District council members are elected for staggered four-year terms; most other councillors are elected for three-year terms. England has 39 counties and 7 metropolitan areas, including Greater London, which has a special government structure. Wales has 8 counties, and Scotland has 9 counties, which are called regions. Northern Ireland has only district-level government, with 26 districts.

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