Read and speak about the British Parliament and the UK Electoral System
The United Kingdom is a constitutional monarchy. This means that it has a monarch (a king or a queen) as its Head of the State. But the Queen is formally at the head of the State. In fact the country is ruled by the Parliament consisting of two chambers: the House of Lords and the House of Commons. The members of the House of Lords are not elected by the population. The members of this House are lords and bishops. The chairman of the House of Lords is the Lord Chancellor. He sits on a special seat called the Woolsack. It shows that wool made England rich.
The House of Lords, the Woolsack
The House of Commons is made up of 650 elected members, known as Members of Parliament (MPs). The members of the House of Commons are elected for a period of 5 years. The Speaker is the chairman of all debates in the House of Commons. His duty is to keep order. The Speaker is elected by all the members of the House of Commons. He belongs to one of the political parties in Parliament, but he never votes with other members.
The House of Commons plays the major role in law-making. Each Members of Parliament represents an area in England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. MPs are elected either at a general election, or at a by-election following the death or retirement of an MP.
British Parliament, the House of Commons
Parliamentary elections must be held every five years, but the Prime Minister can decide on the exact date within those five years. The minimum voting age is 18, and the voting is taking by secret ballot.
The election campaign lasts about three weeks. The election is decided on a simple majority – the candidate with the most votes wins.
The British parliamentary system depends on political parties. The political parties choose candidates in elections. The party which wins the majority of seats forms the Government and its leader becomes Prime Minister. The Prime Minister chooses about 20 MPs from his or her party to become the Cabinet of Ministers. Each minister is responsible for a particular area of the government. The second largest party becomes the official opposition with its own leader and “Shadow cabinet”. Leader of the opposition is a recognized post in the House of Commons.
The members of each House meet in sessions which begin at the end of October and last for about 160 days.
The main political parties are the Conservative (the Tory) Party, the Liberal, the Labour Party.
The Labour Party, the Liberal, the Coservative Party
The two main political parties of Great Britain are the Coservative Party and the Labour Party. The Conservative Party (called the Tory) is right wing, tending to be opposed to great and sudden changes in the establihed order of society. It is against state control of industry.
The Labour Party, sometimes called Socialists, 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.