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The constitutional history of Great Britain

Great Britain is a constitutional monarchy, and the Crown is a permanent and continuous institution. The traditional announcement, "The King is dead, long live the King!" typifies the immortality of royal authority. According to the Constitution, the powers of the Crown are very great. Every action of the government is carried out in its name But the Queen cannot act independently. She may exercise these powers only on the advice of her ministers, who are responsible politically to Parliament.

In Britain they look to the Queen not only as their head of State, but also as the "symbol of their nation's unity". The royal title in the United Kingdom is: "Elizabeth the Sccond, by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of Her other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith". The Queen reigns but does not rule. She never vetoes bills passed by Parliament.

Although the Queen is deprived of actual power, she has retained many important, though formal, functions. She summons and dissolves Parliament, gives approval to Bills passed by both Houses of Parliament; she appoints government ministers, judges, officers in the armed forces, governors, diplomats and bishops of the Church of England.

As head of State the Queen has, in international affairs, the power to declare war and make peace, to recognize foreign states and governments, to conclude treaties, etc.

The Queen is Head of the Commonwealth () of Nations where she is represented by the Governor-General. The Commonwealth at present is an association of 54 states. Alongside with Britain and such developed countries as Canada, Australia, New Zealand, it includes large developing countries as India, Nigeria.

The Commonwealth is not a federation, because there is no central government, no common defence force, judiciary and no rigid obligations between the members.

9)Describe the structure and composition of the British Parliament. The House of Lords, main functions and recent changes. The House of Commons: fuctions and role. Devolution.


There are 3 elements of the Br. Parliament - the Queen and the 2 Houses of Parl, (the H. of Lords and the elected H. of Commons). These elements ace separate, constituted on different principles and meet only on occasions of symbolic significance.

The supreme legislative authority in GB, parliament, resides in Westminster Palace. Members ofparl, are elected at general election which is usually held every 5 years. The arrangement of seating in both Houses reflects the party system. Both debating chambers are rectangular in shape and have at one end the seat of the Speaker, and the other end a technical barrier. Leaders of the Government and the Opposition sit on the front benches of their respective to the seat of the Speaker.

The HL consists of Lords Spiritual (senior bishops) and Lords Temporal (lay peers). Members are not elected, the HL underwent a major reform in 1999. The hereditary lords or peers lost the right to sit in the HL. The number of Conservative peers reduced. The procedure of the HL is rather informal and is comparable to that of the HC. The Lord Chancellor presides over the House as its Speaker. There is no Minister of Justice but the Lord Chancellor performs some of its functions. The HL consists of 786 members. HL also includes ministers, government Whips, the Leader of the main opposition party and 2 Chairmen of the Committees.

The House of Commons is elected by the adult population. Consists of 650 MPs. The chief officer of the HC is the speaker. He is elected by the House at the beginning of each Parl.. His chief function is to preside over the H. in its debate. When elected. The Speaker must not belong to any party.

The HC has .6. administrative and executive departments: 1) of the Clerk of the House 2) of the Sergeant at Arms 3) of the Library 4} of the official Report 5) Administration Dep. 6) Refreshment Dep. The 6 adm. Departments are under the supervision of the HC Commission composed by the MPs, and chaired by the Speaker.

The main functions of the Parliament: to pass laws, to provide the means of carrying on the work of Government policy and administration, to debate the most important political issues of the day. Nevertheless, the principal duty is legislation, making laws. In the past Legislation was initiated from both sides of the House: from the government and from the opposition. But in present-day practice almost all bills are brought forward by the Government in power. Bills may be introduced in either House, unless they deal with finance or representation, when they are always introduced in the Commons. The process of passing bills is the same in the HL as in the HC. On introduction, the bill receives a formal 1 Reading. It is not yet printed. The Clerk of the House reads out only the short title, of the bill and the Minister responsible for it names a day of a Second Reading. It is then printed and. published. After a period of time it may be given a 2nd Reading as a result of a debate on its general merits or principles. Then each clause of the bill is considered and voted on.. Then it is formally reported to the House by the Chairman and further, debate takes place. Finally the Bill is submitted for a 3rd Reading. Then, if passed, it is sent to the Lords from the Commons or from C-'s- to L-s. All bills are sent to the Sovereign for Royal Assent, After this the bill becomes a law and is known as an Act of Parliament.

Devolution. The power in Britain was decentralized after the labor government came to power at the 1957. Their program included plans for a parliament in Scotland, assemblies in Hales and H. Ireland and regional development agencies in England.

Date: 2015-12-18; view: 972

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