The Prime Minister of Great Britain

Topics: Prime minister, Westminster system, Head of state Pages: 5 (1903 words) Published: October 8, 1999
The Prime Minister of Great Britain

There are a lot of political issues in Great Britain today. United Kingdom is a large, industrialized democratic society and as such it has to have politics and therefore political issues. One of those issues how should executive branch work and whether the Prime Minister has too much power. Right now in Great Britain there is a great debate on this issue and I am going to examine it in detail. The facts I have used here are from different writings on British politics which are all listed in my bibliography, but the opinions are my own and so are the arguments that I used to support my views. First let me explain the process through which a person becomes a Prime Minister. The PM is selected by the sovereign. He (or she) chooses a man who can command the support of majority of the members of the House of Commons. Such a man is normally the leader of the largest party in the House. Where two are rivals in a three party contest such as those which occurred in the 1920s he is usually selected from the party which wins the greatest number of seats. The Prime Minister is assumed to be the choice of his party and nowadays, so far as he can be ascertained, participation of a monarch is a pure formality. Anyone suggested for this highest political office obviously has to be a very smart and willing individual, in fact it has been suggested that he be an "uncommon man of common opinions"(Douglas V. Verney). Not all Prime Ministers fitted this bill exactly, but every on of them had to pass one important test: day-to-day scrutiny of their motives and behavior by fellow members of Parliament before they were ultimately elected to the leadership of their party. Unlike Presidents of the United States all Prime Ministers have served a long apprenticeship in the legislature and have been ministers in previous Cabinets. Many Presidents of our country have been elected and on many occasions they have never even met some of their future co-workers, such as case of Kissinger and Nixon who have never even met prior to Nixon's appointment.

Let's now examine the statutory duties and responsibilities of the Prime Minister. Unlike the United States where the President's duties are specifically written out in the Constitution, the powers of the Prime Minister are almost nowhere spelled out in a statute. Unlike his fellow ministers he does not receive the seals of office: he merely kisses the hands of the monarch like an ambassador.

The Prime Minister has four areas of responsibilities. He is a head of the Government; he speaks for the Government in the House of Commons; he is the link between the Government and the sovereign; he is the leader of the nation. He is chief executive, chief legislator and chief ambassador. As we can see the PM has an wide range of powers, maybe too wide. As head of the Government the Prime Minister has the power to recommend the appointment and dismissal of all other ministers. Far from being merely first among equals, he is the dominant figure. Ministers wait in the hall of PMs office on No.10 Dowling Street before being called into the Cabinet room. He may himself hold other portfolios such as that of Foreign Secretary(as did Lord Salisbury) or Minister of Defense(as did Mr. Churchill). He has general supervision over all departments and appoints both the Permanent Secretary and the Parliamentary Secretary. The Cabinet office keeps a record of Cabinet decisions to make sure that PM has up to date information. He controls the agenda which the office prepares for Cabinet meetings. There is a smaller Prime Minister's Private Office which consists of a principal private secretary and a half a dozen other staff drawn from civil service. Perhaps owing to American influence the two offices are becoming increasingly popular and there are signs that the Prime Minister is no longer content to be aided by nonpolitical civil...
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