Socio-Political Life and Key Values of the British Society

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The United Kingdom of the Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the constitutional monarchy. The head of the state is the Queen Elizabeth II. The Queen is the personification of the U.K. By law, she is the head of the executive branch, an integral part of the legislature, the head of the judiciary, the commander-in-chief of all armed forces of the Crown and the temporal head of the established Church of England. But I want to emphasize that in practice, as a result of a long evolutionary process, these powers have changed. Today, the queen acts only on the advice of her Ministers which she cannot constitutionally ignore. In fact she reigns but she doesn’t rule. However, I want to add that the monarchy has more power than is commonly supposed. There remain certain powers in the hands of the monarch, known as the Royal Prerogative. The organs of government in the Great Britain are:

1. The legislature, which consists of the Queen in Parliament and is the supreme authority of the realm. 2. The executive, which consists of the Cabinet and other ministers of the Crown, government departments, local authorities. 3. The judiciary which determines common law and interprets statues. Parliament

In principle, the “Crown in Parliament” is supreme. This means that 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, legislation is dominated by the prime minister and the cabinet, who initiate all proposed bills and who are politically responsible for the administration of the law and the affairs of the nation. The main functions of Parliament are: to pass laws; to provide, by voting taxation, the means of carrying on the work of government; to scrutinise government policy and administration; to debate the major issues of the day. In carrying out these functions Parliament helps to bring the relevant facts and issues before the electorate. By custom, Parliament is also informed before all-important international treaties and agreements are ratified. A Parliament has a maximum duration of five years, but in practice general elections are usually held before the end of this term. Parliament is dissolved and rights for a general election are ordered by the Queen on the advice of the Prime Minister. The life of a Parliament is divided into sessions. Each usually lasts for one year – normally beginning and ending in October or November. At the start of each session the Queen's speech to Parliament outlines the Government’s policies and proposed legislative programme. The houses of Parliament in London, known also as the Palace of Westminster is the place where members of Parliament gather to make laws. The members of each Houses meet in sessions which begin at the end of October and last for about one hundred and sixty days. The sittings usually begin at 10 o’clock in the morning and end in the late afternoon. All the time Parliament is in session, a flag can be seen over the building. The members of the House of Commons sit on two sides of the hall. The Speaker is the chairperson at all the debates in the House of Commons, and it is duty to keep order. The Speaker is elected by all the members of the House of Commons. He belongs to one of the political parties in Parliament, but he never votes. The chairperson of the House of Lords is Lord Chancellor. He sits on the Woolsack, a large bag of wool covered with red cloth. The House of Lords is composed of hereditary peers and peeresses, 2 Anglican archbishops, and 24 bishops and life peers whose titles are not hereditary. Life peers include lords of appeal, who make up the court of last resort on matters that can be brought to the House of Lords. Bills from the House of Commons are passed to the House of Lords for discussion. Although no vote from...
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