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Government of the United Kingdom

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Government of the United
February 21,2014
What is the difference between
The United Kingdom, Great
Britain and England?
•The United Kingdom of Great
Britain and Northern Ireland
includes the four territories:
England, Wales, Scotland, and
Northern Ireland.
•Great Britain includes the major
island of and has three regions:
England, Wales, and Scotland.
•England is a region of Great
Britain and The UK. It has the
largest population with five
sixths of the entire state.
The Official name of the state is “The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland”
Common Government Terms
• The Crown – all encompassing term including
the all the powers of government (king and
queen, Parliament, cabinet, and civil servants)
• West minster – district of London where many
government buildings are located
• # 10 Downing St. – prime minister’s residence
and address
• Whitehall – street where many executive offices
are located along with the House of Commons
and House of Lords
Westminister Hall
The UK a Democratic Regime
remember there are two main democratic regimes parliamentary and presidential)
Parliamentary System
• Legislative and Executive
Branch are not separate
• Head of state (monarch)
and Head of Government
(Prime Minister) are held
by two separate
• Write two more
differences between this
democratic regimes.
• Which do you prefer?
Presidential System
• Legislative and Executive
are separate branches of
• Head of State and Head
of Government are
positions of one person
the President
PS: There is a hybrid system called the Semi-Presidential System. These governments
Have a combination of both systems. Examples of Semi Presidential Systems exist in
France and Russia.
Leadership of the UK of Great
Britain and Northern Irealnd
• The Monarch
Head state
“Psychological cement to
hold a country together”
No real political power
“Reigns but does not rule”
• The Prime Minister (PM)
• Picks the Cabinet
• Well disciplined Party
• Head of Government
• Winning elections
• Campaigning through
• Patronage
• Making and balancing
Head of State: Queen Elizabeth II
Head of Government: David Cameron
Branches of Government in the UK
• Executive = Prime Minister and Cabinet
• Legislative = House of Commons and
House of Lords
• Judicial = Courts
Executive Branch
Prime Minister
Head of Government
Head of the majority party in HOC
Usually get their way and are
thought to be powerful because of
strong party loyalty
Can call elections at any time
Must maintain the support of party
Take questions once weekly that
are televised
Direct activity of the cabinet
Diplomats and world leaders
Has about twenty members
Can be from HOC or HOL, though
most are from HOC
Appointed by the Prime Minister
Responsible for individual
government departments
Provide answers to Parliament
during the question time.
Collective Responsibility – idea
that cabinet must appear unified
and take responsibility for policy
If Cabinet official can not support
a decision of government they
must resign and return to
legislature (3 of Blair’s ministers
resigned over the war in Iraq)
Why Do PMs Not turn into
• Elections are every five years (try to keep
blocks of support among population)
• Has to keep the support of the party in
order for party to stay in power in
British Cabinet
Lord Chancellor (member of House of Lords)
Foreign Secretary – conducts foreign policy
Home Secretary – oversees the Judiciary
Chancellor of Exchequer (treasury) – financial policy and head of the
central bank
Social Security
Northern Ireland
National Heritage
What is the Parliament?
It is not George Clinton’s Band (P-Funk).
пЃ¶ It is the legislative branch of the English
government that selects the Prime
Minister (PM) and the Cabinet. Both the
PM and Cabinet officials are also
members of Parliament (MPs)
пЃ¶It is a bicameral legislature which consists
of the House of Commons and House of
Parliament (House of
House of Commons
House of Lords
Parliament (House of Lords)
Work in the Parliament
How are MPs chosen?
• In the House of Commons there is an election every five years or
Parliament may be dissolved
• MPs represent a single district called a constituency
• MPs are elected in first past the post system – or single member
plurality districts. MPs win on plurality, who has the most votes not
necessarily the majority. (Remember the term first past the post )
• This supports a strong two-party political system in the UK (Labour
and Conservative) like in the US. (Remember Duverger’s Law pg.
85 textbook)
• MPs are not required to live in the district they represent and many
make their homes in London
• MPs in the House of Lords are inherited positions (heredity peers
like dukes, earls, barons, ect.) these positions were eliminated in
1999 and life peers who are appointed by the Crown once
recommended by PM generally outstanding citizens, law lords, and
top officials from The Church of England. MPs in the HOL are
shielded from public scrutiny in terms of legislation. Similar to U.S.
Supreme Court Justices.
Functions of House of
MPs (Members of Parliament) are expected to :
пЃ¶ Support their party
пЃ¶ Assess the political reputations of other MPs to be
cabinet ministers
пЃ¶ Share the problems they see with policy of ministers
outside of chambers (must look like you are a party
loyalist at all times)
пЃ¶ Talk about legislation, but do not write legislation.
(Legislation is written by cabinet ministers)
пЃ¶ Vote on legislation proposed by the government
пЃ¶ Have oversight in seeing how policy is carried out
пЃ¶ Publicize government policy to the general public
пЃ¶ Can check the PM with a vote-of-no-confidence
пЃ¶ MPs vote with their party 90% of the time
Inside the House of Commons
Red = Majority Party
Blue = Minor Party
Other Colors = Small Minor Parties
Functions of House of Lords
• Made up of inherited seats and Church of
England bishops and law lords
• Limited power
• Amend legislation from Commons. But the MPs
in the House of Commons can easily delete
amendments with simple majority
• Delay legislation (financial bills 30 days and
other 2 years)
• Debate topics that are to controversial for
elected MPs
Inside the House of Lords
Judicial Branch
• No judicial review
• Parliament is always supreme and any
measure created by legislature is
• Judges on Court are selected by the Lord
Chancellor and serve until retirement
• Civil and criminal courts and court of
• In 2009 the Supreme Court was created in
the UK to be the last court of appeals.
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