Great Britain is a constitutional monarchy. This means that it has a monarch as its Head of the State. The monarch reigns with the support of Parliament. Everything today is done in the Queen's name. It is her government, her armed forces, her law courts and so on. She appoints all the Ministers, including the Prime Minister. Once the British Empire included a large number of countries all over the world ruled by Britain. The process of decolonization began in 1947 with the independence of India, Pakistan and Ceylon. An association of former members of the British Empire and Britain was founded in It is called the Commonwealth. It includes many countries such as Ireland, Burma, the Sudan, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and others. The Queen of Great Britain is also a Head of the Commonwealth, and also the Queen of Canada, Australia, New Zealand...
The Monarchy in Britain. When the Queen was born on 21 April 1926, her grandfather, King George V, was on the throne and her uncle was his heir. The death of her grandfather and the abdication of her uncle (King Edward VIII) brought her father to the throne in 1936 as King George VI. Elizabeth II came to the throne an 6 February 1952 and was crowned on 2 June Since then she made many trips to different countries and to the UK also. The Queen is very rich, as are others members of the royal family. In addition, the government pays for her expenses as Head of the State, for a royal yacht, train and aircraft as well as for the upkeep of several palaces. The Queen's image appears on stamps, notes and coins.
Houses of Parliament The houses of Parliament in London, known also as the Palace of Westminster is the place where members of Parliament (M.P.) gather to make laws
The Palace of Westminster, here viewed from the London Eye, sits on the north bank of the River Thames, near Westminster Bridge. Its principal towers are, from left to right, the Victoria Tower, the Central Tower and the Clock Tower, also known as "Big Ben".
History of the Palace of Westminster The Palace of Westminster was the principal residence of the kings of England from the middle of the 11th century until In medieval times kings summoned their courts wherever they happened to be. But by the end of the 14th century the court in all its aspects - administrative, judicial and parliamentary - had its headquarters at Westminster. Although the Lords were accommodated in the Palace, the Commons originally had no permanent meeting place of their own, meeting either in the chapter house or the refectory of Westminster Abbey. After the Chantries Act 1547 abolished all private chapels, the Royal Chapel of St Stephen within the Palace of Westminster was handed over to the Commons. The Commons assembled in St Stephen's until 1834 when the Palace was burned down. This fire destroyed almost all of the Palace except Westminster Hall, the crypt of St Stephen's Chapel, the adjacent cloisters and the Jewel Tower.Westminster Hall The present Houses of Parliament were built over the next 30 years. They were the work of the architect Sir Charles Barry ( ) and his assistant Augustus Welby Pugin ( ). The design incorporated Westminster Hall and the remains of St Stephen's Chapel. The House of Commons Chamber was destroyed in a German air attack in It was rebuilt after the Second World War, taking care to preserve the essential features of Barry's building - the architect was Sir Giles Gilbert Scott. The new Chamber was completed in 1950.
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 Powers of Parliament. The three elements, which make up Parliament –the Queen, the House of Lords and the elected House of Commons –, are constituted on different principles. They meet together only on occasions of symbolic significance such as the State Opening of Parliament, when the Commons are invited by the Queen to the House of Lords. Parliament consists of two chambers known as the House of Lords and the House of Commons. Parliament and the monarch have different roles in the government of the country, and they only meet together on symbolic occasions such as coronation of a new monarch or the opening of Parliament. In reality, the House of Commons is the only one of the three which is true power. It is here that new bills are introduced and debated. At the start of each session the Queen's speech to Parliament outlines the Government's policies and proposed legislative programme.
Her Majesty's Government :. 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. The Cabinet is composed of about 20 ministers chosen by the Prime Minister. The functions of the Cabinet are initiating and deciding on policy, the supreme control of government and the co- ordination of government departments. The exercise of these functions is vitally affected by the fact that the Cabinet is a group of party representatives, depending upon majority support in the House of Commons. The Cabinet meets in private and its proceedings are confidential. John Major Margaret Thatcher Anthony Blair Gordon Brown
Prime Minister James Gordon Brown (born 20 February 1951) is the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Leader of the Labour Party. Brown became Prime Minister in June 2007, after the resignation of Tony Blair and three days after becoming leader of the governing Labour Party.Prime Minister of the United KingdomLeaderLabour PartyTony Blair
Political Parties The Conservative Party (otherwise called the Tory Party) is right-wing, Tending to be opposed to great and sudden changes in the established order of society It is against state control of industry The Labor Party, sometimes called the Socialist, has a close association with the Trade Unions, although it is now not as left-wing as it used to be. It has many supporters, especially among working-class and middle-class people.