The System of Government in Great Britain By Fyodorov George Chuvash State University
Great Britain is a constitutional monarchy with the Queen as the head of state. Britain is divided into four parts: England (London capital), Wales (Cardiff), Scotland (Edinburgh) and Northern Ireland (Belfast). Locally is Britain divided into counties. The capital of the whole Britain is London.
A constitutional monarchy is a form of government in which a monarch acts as head of state within the parameters of a written, unwritten or blended constitution. It differs from absolute monarchy in that an absolute monarch serves as the sole source of political power in the state and is not legally bound by any constitution.
Most constitutional monarchies employ a parliamentary system in which the Monarch may have strictly Ceremonial duties or may have Reserve Powers, depending on the constitution, have a directly or indirectly elected prime minister who is the head of government and exercises effective political power.
The British Monarch, currently Queen Elizabeth II is the United Kingdom's head of state but takes little direct part in government. The decisions to exercise sovereign powers are delegated from the Monarch, either by statute or by convention, to Ministers or officers of the Crown, or other public bodies, exclusive of the Monarch personally. Thus the acts of state done in the name of the Crown, such as Crown Appointments, even if personally performed by the Monarch, such as the Queen's Speech and the State Opening of Parliament, depend upon decisions made elsewhere: Legislative power is exercised by the Crown in Parliament, by and with the advice and consent of Parliament, the House of Lords and the House of Commons. Executive power is exercised by Her Majesty's Government, which comprises Ministers, primarily the Prime Minister and the Cabinet, which is technically a committee of the Privy Council. They have the direction of the Armed Forces of the Crown, the Civil Service and other Crown Servants such as the Diplomatic and Secret Services (the Queen receives certain foreign intelligence reports before the Prime Minister does). Judicial power is vested in the Judiciary, who by constitution and statute have judicial independence of the Government The Church of England, of which the Monarch is the head, has its own legislative, judicial and executive structures. Powers independent of government are legally granted to other public bodies by statute or statutory instrument such as an Order-in-Council, Royal Commission or otherwise. Apart from members of parliament and local authorities, no public officers are elected.
The head of state is Queen but she can act only on the advice of her ministers. Queen Elizabeth II. lives in Buckingham Palace in London. She has four children – Charles (Prince of Wales) , Anne (Princess Royal) , Andrew (Duke of York) and Edward (Earl of Wessex).
Elizabeth II (Elizabeth Alexandra Mary, born 21 April 1926) is the reigning queen and head of state of 16 independent sovereign states known as the Commonwealth realms: the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica, Barbados, the Bahamas, Grenada, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Belize, Antigua and Barbuda, and Saint Kitts and Nevis. In addition, as Head of the Commonwealth, she is the figurehead of the 54-member Commonwealth of Nations and, as the British monarch, she is the Supreme Governor of the Church of England.
In 1949, George VI, her father, became the first Head of the Commonwealth, a symbol of the free association of the independent countries comprising the Commonwealth of Nations. On his death in 1952, Elizabeth became Head of the Commonwealth, and constitutional monarch of seven independent Commonwealth countries: the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Pakistan, and Ceylon. Her coronation in 1953 was the first to be televised. During her reign, which at 58 years is one of the longest for a British monarch, she became queen of 25 other countries within the Commonwealth as they gained independence. Between 1956 and 1992, half of her realms, including South Africa, Pakistan, and Ceylon (renamed Sri Lanka), became republics.
According to the uncodified constitution of the United Kingdom, the monarch has the following powers:
The power to appoint and dismiss the Prime Minister
The power to appoint and dismiss other ministers.
The power to summon, prorogue and dissolve Parliament
The power to make war and peace
The power to command the armed forces of the United Kingdom
The power to issue passports
The power to appoint bishops and archbishops of the Church of England
The power to create peers (both life peers and hereditary peers).
The Government is formed by the party which has the majority in Parliament and the Queen appoints its leader as the Prime Minister.
The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the Head of Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom. The Prime Minister and Cabinet (consisting of all the most senior ministers, who are government department heads) are collectively accountable for their policies and actions to the Sovereign, to Parliament, to their political party and ultimately to the electorate. The current Prime Minister, David Cameron, was appointed on 11 May 2010.
As the "Head of Her Majesty's Government", the modern Prime Minister is the highest political authority in the United Kingdom: he leads a major political party, generally commands a majority in the House of Commons (the lower house of the Legislature), and is the leader of the Cabinet (the Executive). As such, the incumbent wields both legislative and executive powers. In the House of Commons, the Prime Minister guides the law-making process with the goal of enacting the legislative agenda of the political party he leads. In his executive capacity, the Prime Minister appoints (and may dismiss) all other cabinet members and ministers, and co-ordinates the policies and activities of all government departments, and the staff of the Civil Service. He or She acts as the public "face" and "voice" of Her Majesty's Government, both at home and abroad. Solely upon the advice of the Prime Minister, the Sovereign exercises many of her statutory and prerogative powers: they include the dissolution of Parliament; high judicial, political, official and Church of England ecclesiastical appointments; and the conferral of peerages, knighthoods, decorations and other honours.
The Constitution of the United Kingdom is unwritten, it is based on custom, tradition and common law. The supreme law-making body in the country is Parliament. Parliament consists of: the House of Commons and the House of Lords. The Houses of Parliament are the centre of British government. They were built in last century. British parliamentary system is one of the oldest in the world, it developed slowly during 13th century after King John’s signature of Magna Carta in 1215.
The House of Commons is the lower house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, which also comprises the Sovereign and the House of Lords (the upper house). Both Commons and Lords meet in the Palace of Westminster. The Commons is a democratically elected body, consisting of 650 members (since 2010 General Election), who are known as Members of Parliament (MPs). Members are elected through the first-past-the-post system by electoral districts known as constituencies. They hold their seats until Parliament is dissolved (a maximum of five years after the preceding election).
A House of Commons of England evolved at some point in England during the 14th century and, in practice, has been in continuous existence since, becoming the House of Commons of Great Britain after the political union with Scotland, and also, during the nineteenth century, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland after the political union with Ireland, finally reaching its current title after independence was given to the Republic of Ireland. The House of Commons was originally far less powerful than the House of Lords, but today its legislative powers greatly exceed those of the Lords.
The House of Lords is the upper house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, the United Kingdom's national legislature. Parliament comprises the Sovereign, the House of Commons (which is the lower house of Parliament and referred to as "the Commons"), and the Lords. The House of Lords, like the House of Commons, assembles in the Palace of Westminster.
The House of Lords as an Upper Chamber has the primary purpose of scrutinizing Legislation proposed by the Lower House through the form of debate and through proposing amendments to legislation. Bills are able to be introduced into either House for debate and reading but due to the need for the Lower House's consent Bills are almost always introduced in the House of Commons. Peers of the House of Lords may also be in Cabinet but in recent years it is generally rare for high portfolio positions to be granted to members due to the appointment and Hereditary positions of those within the House. The Speech from the Throne is delivered from the House of Lords, a tradition still emulated in other Commonwealth Realms, as a reminder of the constitutional position of the Monarch. The House also has a minor Church of England role in that through the Lords Spiritual Church Measures must be tabled within the House.
Unlike the House of Commons, membership of the House of Lords is not attained by election from the population as a whole, but by inheritance, by appointment, or by virtue of their ecclesiastical role within the established church (Lords Spiritual). The Lords Spiritual are 26 senior bishops of the Church of England.
As a conclusion, I should note, that the system of government in Great Britain is very complicated and rather conservative. The main cause is that such system was developed for over many centuries. And as we can see it’s not obsolete.