British Parlament

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The House of Commons. The House of Commons is elected and consists of 651 Members of Parliament (MPs). At present there are 60 women, three Asian and three black Mps. Of the 651 seats, 524 are for England, 38 for Wales, 72 for Scotland, and 17 for Northern Ireland. Members are paid an annual salary of ‡30,854. The chief officer of the House of Commons is the Speaker, elected by the MPs to preside over the House. The House of Commons plays the major role in law making.

MPs sit on two sides of the hall, one side for the governing party and the other for the opposition. Parliament has intervals during its work. MPs are paid for their parliamentary work and have to attend the sittings. MPs have to catch the Speaker's eye when they want to speak, then they rise from where they have been sitting to address the House and must do so without either reading a prepared speech or consulting notes.

The House of Lords. The House of Lords consists of the Lords Spiritual and the Lords Temporal. The Lords Spiritual are the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, and the 24 next most senior bishops of the Church of England. The Lords Temporal consist of: all hereditary peers of England, Scotland, Great Britain and the United Kingdom; all other life peers. Peerages, both hereditary and life, are created by the Sovereign on the advice of the Prime Minister. They are usually granted in recognition of service in politics or other walks of life. In 1992 there were 1,211 members of the House of Lords, including the two archbishops and 24 bishops. The Lords Temporal consisted of 758 hereditary peers and 408 life peers. The House is presided over by the Lord Chancellor, who takes his place on the woolsack as the Speaker of the House.

The division of Parliament into two Houses goes back over some 700 years when feudal assembly ruled the country. In modern times, real political power rests in the elected House although members of the House of Lords still occupy important cabinet posts.

The Political Party System. The present political system depends upon the existence of organised political parties, each of which presents its policies to the electorate for approval. The parties are not registered or formally 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 Party and the Labour Party. A new party – the Liberal Democrats – was formed in 1988. Social Democratic Party is also the new one founded in 1981. Other parties include two nationalist parties, Plaid Cymru (founded in Wales in 1925) and the Scottish National Party (founded in 1934).

The effectiveness of the party system in Parliament rests largely on the relationship between the Government and the Opposition parties. Depending on the relative strengths of the parties in the House of Commons, the Opposition may seek to overthrow the Government by defeating it in a vote on a "matter of confidence". In general, however, its aims are to contribute to the formation of policy and legislation by constructive criticism; to oppose government proposal - it considers objectionable; to seek amendments to government bills; and to put forward its own policies in order to improve its chances of winning the next general election.

Because of the electoral method in use, only two major parties obtain seats in the House of Commons. People belonging to smaller political parties join one of the larger parties and work from within to make their influence felt. The exception to this are members of the Scottish National and Welsh Nationalist Parties, who, because their influence votes are concentrated in specific geographical areas, can manage to win seats although their total support is relatively small.

Her Majesty's Government: Prime Minister, the Cabinet. Her Majesty's Government is the body of ministers responsible for the administration of national affairs. The Prime Minister is appointed by the Queen, and all other ministers are appointed by the Queen on the recommendation of the Prime Minister. Most ministers are members of the Commons, although the Government is also fully represented by ministers in the Lords. The composition of governments can vary both in the number of ministers and in the titles of some offices. New ministerial offices may be created, others may be abolished and functions may be transferred from one minister to another.

Реферат опубликован: 5/09/2009