The organs of government in the
United Kingdom are: l)the legislature, which consists of the Queen in
Parliament, and is the supreme authority of the realm; 2) the executive which
consists of a) the Cabinet and other
ministers of the Crown; b) government departments, c] local authorities and d)
statutory boards; 3) the judiciary which determine common law and interprets
"The King in Parliament"
is the supreme legislative authority in the UK, the King and the two Houses of
Parliament (the House of Commons and the House of Lords).
The sovereignty of parliament:
during its life a Parliament may make or unmake any law; its supremacy is
absolute. There is no distinction between normal legislation and constitutional
The Life of Parliament: five years
maximum. It begins after a general election and ends with a dissolution
(proclaimed by the sovereign, on the Prime Minister's advice). On the average
the Parliament has 160 sitting days each year beginning with the Opening of Parliament
(October - November).
2. House of Commons: Members of
Parliament are elected by universal adult suffrage. 650 members ( M.P.s ) are elected either at a general
election (following a dissolution) or at a by-election if a seat becomes vacant.
M.P.s receive a salary and have a
number of allowances.
The speaker: chosen from the members
(after consultation between the two main parties); but, once elected, is no
longer considered a party man; his role: chairs the debates, authority and prestige
( Symbol of the House).
The Leader of the House: formely the
Prime Minister himself now a prominent member of the government.
The Leader of the Opposition
receives a salary like a minister.
The Whips are members responsible to
theii leaders for party discipline on important divisions.
Functions of the House: 1.
Legislation; 2. Finance; 3. Criticism and contra, of the government in office
(which is practically exercised during the Question Time when M.P.s may ask
questions on any aspects of the government's activities).
Afternoon: 2.30- prayers and minor
preliminaries. 2.35-3.30 – Question Time Parliamentary questions (PQs) are sent
through the Speaker to the minister in writing. Two or three days later the
minister or his parliamentary secretary will come to the House and reply. 3.30
– Miscellaneous items (first readings etc.). 4.00-10.00 – Main business of the
day. 10.00 - Adjournment motion, speech of the adjournment
From a Bill to an Act.
First reading - a formality, the
printed text is then published. Second reading - principles are discussed in a
wide debate followed by a vote.
Committee Stage - examination clause
by clause. Report stage -in the House itself.
Third reading - discussion on the
text as it has emerged from the earlier
stages. It is the final stage in the House. The Bill is sent to the Lords for
similar discussions. Royal Assent: the King (or Queen) gives his assent (no veto
used since 1707) and the Bill reaches the statute book, it is then called the
Act of Parliament
3. House of Lords:
-Parliament Act of 1911: the Lords
can delay a bill for two years. They have no authority on "money
-Parliament Act 1949: the Lords can
delay a bill for one year only.
-Life Peerage Act 1958: created a
new category, the Life Peers and admitted women.
The presiding officer of the House
of Lords is the Lord Chancellor who is a member of the Cabinet. The Lord
Chancellor's seat in the House of Lords is the so-called Woolsack.