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Great Britain and Northern Ireland

The United Kingdom is a constitutional or parliamentary monarchy. It means that it has a monarch (either a queen or a king) as its Head of State but the monarch has very little power. The Queen (or King) reigns but she (he) doesnít rule. Parliament and the existent government have the power. Parliament and the monarch have different roles and they only meet together on symbolic occasions such as the coronation of a new monarch or the traditional annual opening of the Parliament.

The present British monarch is Queen Elizabeth (since 1953) and the next in line to the throne is her son, Charles, the Prince of Wales, and then his son, Prince William of Wales.

Britain is a democracy. Men and women over 18 have the right to vote. They have the right to elect a Member of Parliament (MP) for their electoral area (constituency). Most MPs belong to different political parties. Although there is no limit to the number of political parties, and at present there are more than 100 of them, Britain in reality has a two-party system of government, since most people vote either Labour or Conservative.

The party that wins the most seats in a general election forms the government and its leader becomes the Prime Minister, the head of the government. He or she (the only woman Prime Minister in the history of Britain was Margaret Thatcher) usually takes policy decisions with the agreement of the Cabinet of Ministers. The power of the Cabinet, in its turn, is controlled by the Parliament, for no bill can become law until it is passed by an Act of Parliament.

All important bills are presented to the House of Commons (the lower chamber of the Parliament, all 659 members of which are elected by people), where they are explained and debated. If they receive a majority vote they go to the House of Lords (the upper chamber consisting of 92 hereditary or life-time peers, clergy, and supreme judges) and after that to the monarch to be signed. Although a bill must be supported by all three bodies, the House of Lords has only limited powers, and the monarch has not refused to sign any bill for about 200 years. The monarch always acts on the advice of the Prime Minister. So the House of Commons is the main law-making body while the Cabinet of Ministers and the government are the main executive bodies.

Great Britain is a member of the Commonwealth which is a voluntary association of independent states that originated as a result of dismantling of the British Empire after 1945. The British monarch is the Head of the Commonwealth and also the Head of State of 16 member countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the Bahamas and some others.

1. What kind of monarchy is the United Kingdom?

2. What is the role of monarch in the British political system?

3. Who is the present British monarch?

4. Men and women over 18 have the right to elect a Member of Parliament for their constituency, donít they?

5. Does Britain in reality have two-party or four-party system?

6. Who can become the head of the government?

7. In what way are all important British bills approved?

8. What are the main law-making and executive bodies in the United Kingdom?

9. Is Great Britain a member of the Commonwealth? What does it mean?


Vocabulary and Speech Exercises


Date: 2015-12-17; view: 1384

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