THE BRITISH PARLIAMENT

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              The UK Parliament is one of the oldest representative as­semblies in the world, having its origins in the middle of the 13th century. From the 14th century, parliamentary govern­ment in the United Kingdom has been based on a two-chamber system. The House of Lords (the upper house) and the House of Commons (the lower house) sit separately and are consti­tuted on entirely different principles. The relationship bet­ween the two Houses is governed largely by convention but is in part defined by the Parliament Acts. The legislative pro­cess involves both Houses of Parliament and the Monarch.

               In the beginning Great Britain was an absolute monarchy, but in the 17th century tensions increased between parliament and monarch. Civil War broke out the following year, leading to the execution of King Charles 1 in January 1649. Following the restoration of the Monarchy in 1660, the role of parlia­ment was enhanced by the events of 1688-89 (the ‘Glorious Revolution’) which established the authority of Parliament over the King. The state political system became to be Parlia­ment monarchy. Nowadays the Monarch is no more but a sym­bol and tradition of the nation.

               The British Parliament consists of the House of Lords and the House of Commons and the Queen.

               Today the House of Commons plays the major role in law­making. It consists of Members of Parliament. Each of them represents an area in England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland. Members of Parliament are elected either at a general election or at a by-election following the death or retirement of one of them. Parliament has a maximum duration of five years. At any time up to the end of this period, a general election can be held for a new House of Commons and it is the Prime Minister who decides on the exact day of the election. The minimum voting age is 18. The election campaign lasts about three weeks, the British parliamentary system depends on political parties. The party which wins the majority of seats forms the govern­ment and its leader usually becomes Prime Minister. The Prime Minister chooses about 20 MPs from his party to become the cabinet of ministers. Each minister is responsible for a parti­cular area in the government. The second largest party becomes the official opposition with its own leader and «shadow cabi­net». The leader of the opposition is a recognized post in the House of Commons. The parliament and the monarch have dif­ferent roles in the government and they only meet together on symbolic occasions, such as coronation of a new monarch or the opening of the parliament. In reality, the House of Com­mons is the one of three which has true power.

                  The House of Commons is made up of six hundred and fif­ty elected members, it is presided over by the speaker, a mem­ber acceptable to the whole house. MPs sit on two sides of the tall, one side for the governing party and the other for the opposition. The first two rows of seats are occupied by the lea­ding members of both parties. Each session of the House of Commons lasts for 160-175 days. MPs are paid for their par­liamentary work and have to attend the sittings. As mentioned above, the House of Commons plays the major role in law ma­king. The procedure is the following: a proposed law («a bill») has to go through three stages in order to become an act of parliament; these are called «readings». The first reading is a formality and is simply the publication of the proposal. The second reading involves debate on the principles of the bill. And the third reading is a report stage. This is usually the most important stage in the process. When the bill passes through the House of Commons, it is sent to the House of Lords for discussion, when the Lords agree it, the bill is taken to the Queen for royal assent, when the Queen signs the bill, it be­comes act of the Parliament and the Law of the Land.

                  The House of Lords has more than 1000 members, although only about 250 take an active part in the work of the house. Members of this Upper House are not elected, they sit there because of their rank and the chairman of the House of Lords is the Lord Chancellor. And he sits on a special seat, called «Woolsack». It is another tradition of Great Britain. The mem­bers of the House of Lords debate the bill after it has been passed by the House of Commons. Some changes may be rec­ommended and the agreement between the two houses, is reached by negotiations.

     

 

 

QUESTIONS:

 

1.   When was the UK Parliament established?

 2.  When did the parliamentary government in the United Kingdom begin to be based on a two- chamber system?

3.   How is the upper house called?        

4.   How is the lower house called?

5.   How is the relationship between the two Houses go­verned?

6.   Who are involved in the legislative process in the Bri­tish Parliament?

7.   Whom does the real power in the Parliament belong to?

8.    When did the Monarchy restoration happen?

9.    What happened to King Charles I?

10.   When was King Charles I executed?

11.   Does the Monarch have the real legislative power in Great Britain nowadays?

12.   Is the state political system of Great Britain an abso­lute monarchy today?

13.   What political system does Great Britain have today?

14.    Who decides on the exact day of the election to be held for a new House of Commons?

15.    Who always stands in the official opposition in the Par­liament?

16.    How many members are there in the House of Com­mons?

17.    How many members are there in the House of Lords?

18.    Are members of the House of Lords paid fоr their par­liamentary work?

19.    What is the minimum voting age in Great Britain?

20.    What is a maximum duration for the Parliament?

    

 

 

VOCABULARY:

 

representative — полит, представительный

origins — происхождение, начало

two-chamber system — двухпалатная система

the House of Lords — Палата лордов (верхняя палата бри­танского парламента)

the House of Commons — Палата общин (нижняя палата британского парламента)

to constitute — составлять; основывать; учреждать, со­здавать

to govern — править, управлять; руководить

convention — соглашение, договоренность, договор, кон­венция

to define — определять, давать определение

to involve — втягивать, вовлекать

tension —  противоречие, напряженность

to break (past broke, p.p. broken) out — разразиться

restoration — ист. реставрация (в 1660 г. в Англии)

to enhance — увеличивать, усиливать

to elect — избирать, выбирать

retirement — выход в отставку; уход на пенсию; отход отдел

the Prime Minister — премьер-министр

to depend on — зависеть от

MP — сокращение от член парламента

responsible — ответственный, несущий ответственность, отвечающий

coronation — коронация

to make (past made, p.p. made) up — зд. состоять из

the speaker — спикер

row — ряд

to attend — посещать; присутствовать

to mention — упоминать, ссылаться на

bill — законопроект, билль

proposal — предложение; план

royal assent — королевское одобрение, утверждение, раз­решение

rank — ранг

chairman — председатель

the Lord Chancellor — лорд-канцлер

negotiations — переговоры

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