Britain is a constitutional monarchy. That means it is a country governed by a king or a queen who accepts the advice of a parliament.
It is also a parliamentary democracy. That is, it is a country whose government is controlled by a parliament which has been elected by the people.
The highest positions in the government are filled by the members of the directly elected parliament.
In Britain, as in many European countries, the official head of state, whether a monarch (as in Belgium, the Netherlands or Denmark) or a president (as in Germany, Greece or Italy) has little power.
The British Parliament is divided into two houses, and its members belong to one or other of them, although only members of the Commons are normally known as MPs (Member of Parliament). The Commons is by far the more important of the two houses.
The House of Lords consists of over 1000 non-elected members. Members can be divided into the Lords Spiritual, higher bishops of the Church of England, and the Lords Temporal. The latter can be divided into Lords who have inherited their titles, Lords who have been given their titles for their lifetime and Law lords. Only a relatively small number of the members of the House of Lords take an active interest in politics and regularly attend meetings of the House, which usually sits about 145 days each year. The sole power of the House of Lords is to delay bills becoming a law. The speaker of the House of Lords, the Lord Chancellor, is a member of the Cabinet.
The Law Lords sit as the highest court of appeal in England.
The House of Commons carries out the bulk of parliamentary work. The 650 Members Of Parliament (MPs), who sit in the Commons, are elected representatives of the people in the United Kingdom (523 for England, 38 for Wales, 72 for Scotland and 17 for Northern Ireland). Each MP represents one of the 650 constituencies into which the UK is divided. Commons has a maximum term of 5 years, at the end of which a general election must be held. However, a general election can be called in the Government at any time. However, Britain is almost alone among modern states in that it does not have a written constitution. There are rules, regulations, principles and procedures for the running of the country but there is no formal document that could be called the Constitution of the United Kingdom or which can be appealed to as the highest law of the land. However, there are three distinctive features that have influenced Britain s social and political institutions and that may be called the basis of the political system: statue law, common law and conventions. Statue law are Acts of the Parliament.
They are written laws and include rules of major importance for the history of the country, e. g. the Bill of Rights or the European Community Act. They also deal with the electoral system (the Representation of the People Acts) and with the composition of the Parliament.
Other acts relate to the monarchy, or are ...
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