History of British parliament

The queen and the parliament. The British Constitution. The Function of Parliament. The Make up of the House of Commons Members of Parliament. The Make up of the House of Lords. The Comparison Of Two Political Systems: Ukrainian And British Ones.

Рубрика Государство и право
Вид реферат
Язык английский
Дата добавления 05.12.2012
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The queen and the parliament

The main part

A. The British Constitution

B. The Monarchy Britain

C. The Function of Parliament

E. Elections

F. The Government

G. The Opposition

H. The Cabinet

I. The Parties

4. The Make up of the House of Commons Members of Parliament

A. The Passing of Laws

5. In the House of Commons

6. The Make up of the House of Lords

7. In the House of Lords

A. Raising Bills in the House of Lords

B. Overruling the House of Lords

8. Private Members Bills

9. Devolution

10. Gladstone in Government and his as a Prime Minister, his administrations

11. Visiting the houses of Parliament

12. Executive

13. Local government

14. Health and Welfare

15. Defense

16. Customs and Traditions

17. The Comparison Of Two Political Systems: Ukrainian And British Ones

18. Summery

19. Conclusion

20. The literature

1. Introduction

The State System of any nation is not an artificial creation of some genius or simply the embodiment of different rational schemes. It is nothing else but a work of many centuries, a product of a national spirit, a political mentality and the consciousness of people.

I have chosen the topic because of its obvious importance. Ukraine is building a sovereign state and it is encountering a lot of problems. Ukraine is suffering an overall deep crisis, trying to set herself free from the persistent inheritance of totalitarianism preying upon economic, politic, national self-consciousness. There is no universally efficient remedy to help the Ukrainian society out of this grave condition. The process of recovery will be long and arduous. Moreover, the country's eventual deliverance from totalitarian inheritance and its harmonious entry into civilized world community remain for that matter, hardly practicable at all, unless political culture is humanized, and political education of such a kind propagated that would help society overcome the backwardness, the pre-modernity of prevailing visions of justice, democracy, law and order, and the relationship of the individual and the state.

It is quite clear that in the process of democracy formation a lot of problems connected with it will inevitably appear. Many of them already exist. In this solution, a considered usage of foreign experience can help the Ukrainian community to optimize the processes essential for the transitional period from one political system to another, and not to allow the social prevailing tensions to develop into a national civil crisis. And it will also help to save time and resources.

2. The queen and the parliament

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. The powers of the monarch are not defined precisely. 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. Everything is done however on the advice of the elected Government, and the monarch takes no part in the decision-making process.

It is rather difficult to understand the British way of ruling the country. In Britain the Queen is the Head of State, but in fact she doesn't rule the country as she has no power. The Queen is a symbol of the country history and its traditions. She is very rich. She travels about the united kingdom, meets different people and visits schools, hospitals and other special places. So do all the members of the royal family the Queens husband, her son Prince Charles, the Queen's daughter Princess Anna and Princess Margaret.

At the beginning of the century many countries all over the world were ruled by Britain. All of them were included into the British empire and were its colonies:

India, Pakistan, Ceylon, for example, were among them.

Now these countries are independent states. But in 1949 Britain ant the former colonies founded the Common wealth. The Commonwealth includes many countries such as Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and others. The Queen of Great Britain is also the Head of Commonwealth and the queen of Canada, Australia, New Zealand.

The real power in the country belongs to the British Government. How and when is built the British government we will say under it.

3. The main part

The British Parliament has been in existence since 1215, when King John signed the Magna Carta, and is one of the oldest in the world. The workings of it have changed through the ages and below is a brief description of the ways in which it works.

Parliament consists of two chambers, the House of Commons, consisting of members of parliament who are elected, and the House of Lords, consisting of unelected peers. The Sovereign, at the moment Queen Elizabeth II, is the third part of the Parliament. The government is officially known as Her Majesty's Government. The Queen has, in principle, a lot of power over the government, but chooses not to exercise that power. This position has emerged through the ages, though at one time the Sovereign exercised a lot of power over the government, and the country.

In principle, the “Crown in Parliament” is supreme. This means that legislation passed by Parliament, which consists of the House of Commons (elected directly by the people) and the House of Lords (made up of hereditary peers and appointive members--archbishops, senior bishops, law lords, and life peers) becomes law upon royal assent. In practice, legislation is dominated by the prime minister and the cabinet, who initiate virtually all proposed bills and who are politically responsible for the administration of the law and the affairs of the nation. Fiscal legislation is always initiated in the House of Commons, and other legislation almost always. Since the Parliament Act of 1911, the House of Lords has been unable to block fiscal legislation. By the terms of the Parliament Act of 1949, the Lords may not disapprove other bills if they have been passed by two successive annual sessions of the Commons. The power of the Crown to veto legislation has not been exercised in over 280 years.

A. The British Constitution

The British Constitution is to a large extent a product of many historical events and has thus evolved aver many centuries. Unlike the constitutions of most other countries, it is not set out in any single document. Instead it is made up of statute law, common law and conventions. The constitution can be change by Act of Parliament, or by general agreement to alter a convention.

british parliament constitution political

B. 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 1953. 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.

C. The Functions of Parliament

The main functions of Parliament are: to pass laws; to provide, by voting taxation, the means of carrying on the work of government; to scrutinise government policy and administration; to debate the major issues of the day. In carrying out these functions Parliament helps to bring the relevant facts and issues before the electorate. By custom, Parliament is also informed before all-important international treaties and agreements are ratified.

A Parliament has a maximum duration of five years, but in practice general elections are usually held before the end of this term. Parliament is dissolved and rights for a general election are ordered by the Queen on the advice of the Prime Minister. The life of a Parliament is divided into sessions. Each usually lasts for one year - normally beginning and ending in October or November. The adverse number of "sitting" days in a session is about 168 in the House of Commons and about 150 in the House of Lords. At the start of each session the Queen's speech to Parliament outlines the Government's policies and proposed legislative programme.

E. Elections

At least every five years there is a general election, when the MPs are elected. The Prime Minister decides on the timing of the election, and can call an election at any time, but one must be called within five years of the one before. It is usual for an election to be called after four years. A motion of no confidence can be brought against a government, which, if successful, will result in an early general election. They are rare however, and are likely to bolster support for the government if it fights off such a challenge.

There is potential for a by-election where one constituency has to elect a new MP. This happens if the MP cannot serve as MP, such as if they die, resign, or become a member of the House of Lords. This allows a new MP to be elected.

F. The Government

After a general election, in general, the party with the most MPs become the government, and the party with the next lowest number of MPs forms the official opposition. This always happens if one party has a majority of MPs. The leader of the government party will become the Prime Minister. The government in the House of Commons sits on the government benches, and the opposition and all other MPs sit on the opposition benches on the other side of the House.

It is usually necessary for a government to have the majority of the MPs in the country. If no party has an overall majority, the party with the most MPs has the first chance to form a coalition. In a coalition government, the government consists of two parties rather than one, and there will need to be some compromise on issues where the parties disagree, although the coalition will almost certainly be between parties with similar views. It is usually advantageous to both parties, who have more power together than they would otherwise.

G. The Opposition

The official opposition has few privileges attached to it, but usually the opposition has a greater voice in speaking out against the government, and the media will pay more attention to the opposition than more minor parties. There is very little that the opposition can do that other parties cannot, but the opposition having more MPs has more power to oppose laws, especially if the government is divided over an issue. It can also use this power to help it dictate the business of the House.

H. The Cabinet

The Cabinet are the main people who run the country, with the Prime Minister in charge, and other ministers having their own department or ministry. They are each responsible for some area of public policy such as education, health and transport. A minister has some freedom in the decisions (s)he can make, but in some cases legislation is needed, which requires the support of both houses of Parliament (see 'The Passing of Laws' below)

Ministers are chosen by the Prime Minister, and are usually chosen from the government party. Most cabinet posts need to be held by MPs. Some minor posts can be held by members of the House of Lords, but only MPs can debate issues in the House of Commons, so it would be unlikely for someone not an MP to have a high profile role in the government, as they would not be able to defend their position in the House of Commons.

I. The Parties

Most parties give their leader, and other important party members, a safe seat to represent. It would be a political embarrassment if the party leader, or high-profile members of a party,were to be elected out of office. In the case of a cabinet minister, they could not serve as minister until, and unless, they are re-elected. It is possible for a member of a political party to stand for election in any constituency, but they could be expelled from a party for standing against one of their fellow party members, and this is not usually in the interests of either, as they could split the vote, and allow another party in.

4. The Make up of the House of Commons Members of Parliaments

The House of Commons consists of Members of Parliament, who are elected. The United Kingdom is split into constituencies, and each constituency votes for an MP (Member of Parliament) to represent them, using the 'first past the post' system.

Each MP is a member of one of the political parties, or an independent candidate, and this is stated on the ballot paper. There is no requirement to be a member of one of the parties, but most MPs are party members.

A. The Passing of Laws

5. In the House of Commons

Almost all laws that are made are proposed by the Cabinet. The Cabinet, through a relevant minister, proposes laws to the House of Commons, and then there is a debate on the issues. The bills, go through a number of stages in the House of Commons. First, the bill is announced in brief. This is called the first reading. Within a fortnight, the principles and some of the detail of the bill are announced, and they are debated. This is the second reading. Here, there is a vote, and if the bill is not supported, then it cannot proceed further. Assuming a vote is successful, then it is passed on to the committee stage.

At the committee stage, the bill is discussed in minute detail. A committee is a number of MPs meeting to discuss the bill. Sometimes a standing committee is set up to discuss the bill. Sometimes, a select committee, dealing with a certain area of government may discuss the bill. On very important matters, the committee may consist of the whole House of Commons or both houses of parliament.

After this stage, the committee report back to the House of Commons. Amendments to the bill can be proposed at this stage. The individual details of the bill cannot be discussed, however. This precedes the third reading, where the bill with any amendments is announced to the House of Commons. If the House approves, then the bill is passed to the House of Lords.

6. The Make up of the House of Lords

The House of Lords consists of both hereditary peers, who have inherited their peerage and their title, and life peers, who are appointed by the government, and stay in their positions for life. A large majority of the peers are life peers. Also, important members of the clergy form part of the House of Lords, as do senior judges, or law lords, and other office holders, who have specific roles in the House. Only the office holders, such as the Leader of the House, are paid, the rest can only claim expenses.

Members of the House of Lords cannot become MPs, or hold certain other elected posts. However, lords are allowed to disclaim their title and when standing to become MP, for example, and reclaim the title later. The rule is, however, that no-one can be a member of both houses at the same time.

Peers may have some loyalty to some political party, but there is less of a compulsion to follow the wishes of any party, than for MPs. They cannot be expelled from the House of Lords by being voted out, so have less need for the support of a party, although peers may feel some loyalty to one party.

At the time of writing, the government is reforming the House of Lords, and has appointed so called people's peers, who are not chosen for their affiliation to any political party, but are, in theory, appointed on merit, by an independent committee. This has not met with much success, as the people chosen were not ordinary members of the public. It may be that the House of Lords becomes fully elected, but it is unlikely to be the priority for any government, and slow progress is likely on this issue.

7. In the House of Lords

The House of Lords will then debate the issues, following similar stages to those the bill must pass through in the House of Commons, although it is not usual for committees to be discuss bills, rather it is more likely for the whole house to act as a committee. After this stage, both houses must agree on the final form of the bill, so if the bill has been amended, the assent of the House of Commons is needed for the amended bill.

If both houses accept the bill then it, possibly having been amended, will go to the Queen to sign it. The Sovereign is unlikely to decline this, and the last time the Royal Assent, as this is known, was refused was in 1707. At one time, the Sovereign would have used his/her power a lot more, but more recently the Sovereign has deferred to parliament.

Mostly government bills are passed as stated, with few changes as the government will almost always have a majority, so can usually force through bills, if the government's MPs vote with the government. The greater the majority, the easier this is. Most parties have individuals in them called Whips who have a role of keeping their party's members informed of parliamentary business, and also try to make sure that the MPs vote in favour of their party. In a coalition government the situation is different, as the two parties may disagree on many issues.

A. Raising Bills in the House of Lords

Some bills are debated solely in the House of Lords. These tends to be noncontroversial bills, where the main problems are to do with the detail, rather than the principle. These bills must still be presented to the House of Commons, who must vote in favour of it, for it to become law. Also bills relating to the introduction of new charges, such as taxes, must be raised by a government minister in the House of Commons.

B. Overruling the House of Lords

The House of Lords usually follows the Salisbury Convention in that parts of a government's manifesto are not challenged in the House of Lords. Also, the system allows for the House of Lords to be overruled. Bills dealing only with tax or government spending must be made law within one month, for example. Also after one year, and in a new session of parliament, a bill rejected by the House of Lords can be sent for Royal Assent, bypassing the House of Lords. There are some types of bills that must have the support of the House of Lords to become law.

8. Private Members Bills

Any MP can propose a bill, called a private members bill. These are unlikely to be made law, but can be. They tend to be proposed where the government does not want to raise it, and they generally do not have government backing, so are rarely made law, and may not even be fully debated. The process is sometimes used to highlight the need for government action rather than to make law.

The Early Day Motion system can be a way of highlighting the need for action. They take the form of a request 'That... ' followed by the subject of the motion. While they may not be debated, they are distributed to MPs so can become widely known in the House of Commons. Some Early Day Motions are comments on certain groups, actions, or events, while some seek to encourage certain actions by the House of Commons.

The motions can be endorsed by other MPs, by signing them, and amendments can be made, by the MPs, and the amended motion may be signed. This system can give an indicator of the views of the MPs, and is also used to raise issues when there is little or no time to debate them. They, in themselves, may not become law, although they can, but can be a way of drawing attention to the need for law to be made, or action taken in the case in question.

There is limited time for debate of bills in the House of Commons, so private members bills are presented to the MPs, and some of these are voted for. The successful bills are then given time for debate, and have a chance of becoming law, given support of the MPs. Also, the ten-minute rule allows for a short speech in favour of a bill, and a short speech against it. This can be an attempt at law, but may be an attempt to highlight an area of concern. The time for this bill is when the House will usually be full, and the press are likely to be present, and the MP in question is likely to be able to get a lot of publicity, even if the bill does not make law.

9. Devolution

In the last few years, the government has devolved some power over Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to parliaments in these countries, called respectively the Scottish Parliament, the Welsh Assembly, and the Northern Ireland Assembly. This allows them some power over issues only affecting their country.

At the moment, the Welsh Assembly, Scottish Parliament, and the Northern Ireland Assembly, allow these countries to have more control over certain issues in their countries. Wales and Scotland, and Northern Ireland still have MPs in the British parliament. This is a source of controversy, as Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish MPs can vote in issues that only affect England, but not the other way round.

10. Gladstone in Government
Gladstone was first called upon by Sir Robert Peel to take a Junior Lordship in the Treasury in December 1834. However, following an election, which was called the following month, he was offered the post of Under-Secretary for the Colonies shortly afterwards, as the previous incumbent had failed to retain his seat. His Secretary, Lord Aberdeen, sat in the House of Lords, therefore on colonial matters Gladstone was in charge of in the Commons. However, this spell of office was short-lived as the Government fell in April over the matter of endowments of the Irish Church. Thus, two of the great concerns of Gladstone's life, the Church and Ireland, were to remove him from his first term of office.
In 1841, when Peel returned to power, Gladstone took up the Vice-Presidency of the Board of Trade. It was not a cabinet post which Gladstone was very pleased about. His fellow rising Tory, and later rival, Benjamin Disraeli, wasn't even offered a junior post despite writing to Peel. Peel, however, assured Gladstone that he would be sitting at the table in the Cabinet Room as soon as the opportunity presented itself.
It wasn't too long a wait as two years later he was promoted to President of the Board of Trade and sat for the first time at the cabinet table. In this role, in 1844, he was responsible for the Railway Bill.
His control of the Treasury
The post in government, which Gladstone held most, was as Chancellor of the Exchequer. He served as Chancellor under four Prime Ministers; Lord Aberdeen, Lord Palmerstone, and Lord Russell. Initially, when he stepped up to Prime Minister he did not trust any other Liberal to maintain the spendthrift policies he had previously brought in his budgets.
He first held the post in 1853 under Lord Aberdeen and started to show his colors as a prudent economist limiting excessive public expenditure and therefore being able to reduce duties both in value and in the range of goods on which these had effect.
However, Gladstone stood adamant on the principle of free trade and harbored long-term ambitions to abolish income tax. Gladstone maintained this determination until the onset of the Crimean War made this impossible. It was then seen as the easiest way to gather the funds needed for the war effort. So income tax has remained with the British ever since, and no subsequent chancellor has ever been anywhere near as able to get rid the tax as Gladstone was on the eve of the Crimean war.
On Aberdeen's death Palmerstone succeeded as Prime Minister and offered Gladstone the chance to continue as Chancellor. Although not able to eradicate income tax, Gladstone did what he could to alleviate the tax burden in other ways. He saw this as being important to encourage the economy to grow and compete on the world stage. He served in this role again for the duration of Palmerston's second administration from 1859-1865.
When he first held the Chancellor's Office, every single change announced in the budget had to be ratified by a separate Bill. This procedure had lead to several revolts in the House of Lords or occasionally the Commons, which had unseated governments. Following one such defeat for Gladstone, on The Paper Bill (1860), the following year he inaugurated a single Finance Bill to cover all the clauses, taxes and so on, mentioned in the budget. This was to deter the Lords from jeopardizing the elected house's financial programmers by taking umbrage at one part of it and possibly destabilizing the whole system. This innovation of Gladstone's is the means by which government still ratifies its budget today. The red box that Gladstone used to carry his budget from No 11 Downing Street1 has continued to be used as a ritual box by most chancellor's since. Usually this box has to be carried following it being photographed on the front step before heading to the house with the budget inside.
10. The Gladstone as a prime minister

The First Gladstone Administration December 1868 - February 1874

There were a number of sweeping changes to occur in Gladstone's first administration, and he spent many long hours drafting speeches and defending his policies at every turn. In the early years he even kept a tight leash on financial policy by remaining Chancellor. As previously stated, the reason for this was that he feared that he couldn't trust any of his liberal colleagues to be as prudent in this role as he had been in previous administrations.

The Second Gladstone Administration April 1880 - June 1885
While in opposition, Gladstone was a very vocal critic of Disraeli's policies, and upon his re-election he set about a number of land and agricultural reforms. However, these reforms were to be overshadowed by the outbreak of the First Boer War in 1881.

The Third Gladstone Administration (January - July 1886)

The entire life, and in the end the fall, of Gladstone's third administration rested on one issue it - the Irish question.

The Fourth Gladstone Administration (August 1892 - March 1894)

At the age of 82 Gladstone was once more returned to the highest elected position in the land. Also at this election the first ever socialist, James Keir Hardie was returned for parliament for Holytown, Lanarkshire. Unknown to Gladstone and the Liberals was the long-term effect this would have in keeping them from holding power for the majority of the 20th Century.

Gladstone was once again to return to the question of Irish Home Rule. He believed the only reason that God had preserved him and kept him active this long was to see this bill finally enacted. So he navigated the Second Home Rule Bill (1892) successfully through the Commons only to be defeated on it in the Lords. As a consequence Gladstone relinquished the premiership and leadership of the Liberal Party in 1894 to Lord Rosebery and retired from public life, standing down at the next election. The Queen didn't offer him a peerage as she knew from their dealings in the past that he wouldn't have accepted it anyway.

11. Visiting the Houses of Parliament

Entry is through St. Stephen's Entrance, where you can join a queue for the public galleries, known as Strangers Galleries. Debates in the commons take place on Mon. Tues. and Thurs. from 2-30 pm; Wed. & Fri. from 9-30 am.

The busiest and most interesting time to visit the House is during Prime Minister's Question Time. If you wish to attend Prime Minister's Question Time you must book a ticket through your MP or your embassy. Prime Minister's Question Time is on Wed. from 12pm - 12-30pm.

The House of Lords sit on Mon. - Wed. From 2-30; On Thurs. From 3pm; If a sitting takes place on Friday it commences at 11am.

Both houses recess at Christmas, Easter and from August to mid October.

Opening Times

(2005 times)

August: Monday, Tuesday, Friday, Saturday 09.15 - 16.30;

Wednesday and Thursday 13.15 - 16.30; Sunday closed.

September and October: Monday, Friday, Saturday 0915 - 1630;

Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday 13.15 - 16.30.

Please note that the building will be closed on Sundays, Bank Holidays, and some weekday mornings.

Tours last 75 minutes. Groups of 25 are taken by Blue Badge qualified guides.

Admission Charges

(2005 prices)

Admission to both houses is free. Although admission to the Houses of Parliament Strangers Gallery to observe debate is free, there may be in some cases a guiding cost in relation to tours for constituents and other interested parties, arranged through Members of Parliament.

The Houses of Parliament, otherwise known as The Palace of Westminster, stands on the site where Edward the Confessor had the original palace built in the first half of the eleventh century. In 1547 the royal residence was moved to Whitehall Palace, but the Lords continued to meet at Westminster, while the commons met in St. Stephen's Chapel. Ever since these early times, the Palace of Westminster has been home to the English Parliament.

In 1834 a fire broke out which destroyed much of the old palace, all that remained was the chapel crypt, The Jewel Tower and Westminster Hall. It was Lord Melbourne, the Prime Minister, who saved the great hall by arranging for the fire engines to be brought right into the hall and personally supervising the fire fighting operation.

The magnificent Gothic Revival masterpiece you see today was built between 1840 and 1888, this was the work of Charles Barry who designed the buildings to blend with nearby Westminster Abbey. The two imposing towers, well known landmarks in London, are the clock tower, named after it's thirteen ton bell called Big Ben, and Victoria tower, on whose flag pole the Union Jack flies when parliament is sitting. Much of the Victorian detail of the interior was the work of Barry's assistant Augustus Pugin.

Entrance to Westminster Hall is permitted only as part of a guided tour, otherwise it can be viewed from St. Stephen's porch above. The hall measuring 240 feet by 60 feet has an impressive hammer beam roof of oak and is one of the most imposing medieval halls in Europe. In this noble setting coronation banquets were held until 1821. It was used as England's highest court of law until the nineteenth century and it was here that Guy Fawkes was tried for attempting to blow up the House of Lords on 5th November 1605. The statue of Oliver Cromwell, which stands outside the hall, reminds us it was here in 1653 that he was sworn in as Lord Protector.

12. Executive

The British monarch is head of state. Executive power, however, is wielded by a prime minister, who is head of government, and a committee of ministers called the cabinet. The prime minister is usually the leader of the majority party in the House of Commons. By custom, cabinet ministers are selected from among members of the two houses of Parliament. Cabinet ministers are also among the members of the Privy Council, the traditional, but now largely ceremonial, advisory body to the Crown.

13. Local Government

The government of Great Britain is unitary in structure. Thus, the powers of local government derive from Parliamentary acts, and responsibility for the overall administration of the country rests with specified cabinet ministries. Local authorities, however, are essentially independent. The present structure was established by a Local Government Act in 1972. Shire counties have county, district, and parish councils. Metropolitan areas have joint authorities, district councils, and parish councils. District council members are elected for staggered four-year terms; most other councilors are elected for three-year terms. England has 39 counties and 7 metropolitan areas, including Greater London, which has a special government structure. Wales has 8 counties, and Scotland has 9 counties which are called regions. Northern Ireland has only district-level government, with 26 districts. There is no constitutional division of powers between central and local authorities in Britain, but local units are responsible for police and fire services, education, libraries, highways, traffic, housing, building regulations, and environmental health. In April 1990 a change in financing local government reduced local rates or property taxes and substituted a community charge, labeled a “poll tax.” This unpopular tax produced intense political debate and riots in London; it was replaced in 1992 with a property-based tax. The same legislation called for competitive bidding for local services such as garbage collection and street cleaning.

14. Health and Welfare

Most practicing general physicians in Great Britain are part of the National Health Service, although some also have private patients. Established in 1948, the service provides full, and in most cases, free medical care to all residents. Patients, who may opt for a particular physician, pay minimal charges for prescriptions, adult dental treatment, eyeglasses and dentures, and some locally administered services, such as vaccinations. Most dentists, pharmacists, and medical specialists take part in the service. Each general practitioner may have no more than 3500 registered patients under the plan, for each of whom he or she receives a fee. The National Health Service is financed through general taxation, with national insurance payments contributing some 14 percent of the total cost, and patients' fees contributing 4 percent.

The national insurance system, put into full operation in 1948, provides benefits for industrial injuries, illness, unemployment, maternity costs, and for children in certain circumstances, as well as allowances for guardians and widows, retirement pensions, and death payments. Retirement benefits are paid to men at the age of 65 and to women at the age of 60. Family allowances are payable for all children up to the ages of 16 to 19, or when the child leaves school. The insurance system assists the needy through weekly cash benefits and special services for the handicapped. Most of these services are financed partly through compulsory weekly contributions by employers and employees and partly through a contribution by the government out of general taxation. Expenditures on social security and the National Health Service accounted for about 47 percent of annual government spending during the early 1990s.

15. Defense

Britain depends for its basic security on the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and therefore makes a major contribution in maintaining NATO's defense posture. Defense policy is determined by the Defense and Oversea Policy Committee, headed by the prime minister and including the secretary of state for defense, the foreign secretary, and the home secretary. In 1964 the three military services were unified under the newly created Ministry of Defense and the post of secretary of state for defense. The Defense Council, including the secretary of state for defense, the chief of staff for each of the three services, the chief scientific adviser for defense, and the permanent undersecretary of state for defense, exercises powers of command and administrative control.

The British army is controlled by the Defense Council through an Army Board composed of both civilian and military members. Active members of the army are volunteers who enlist for 22 years of service. Under a plan introduced in 1972, however, army personnel may choose to serve for only three years. In the early 1990s the army numbered 134,600 men and women. A citizen national reserve force, the Territorial Army, has an establishment of more than 68,500 and may be called out in times of emergency. Northern Ireland has a special reserve force of 5700, the Ulster Defense Regiment, which gives part-time support to the regular army.

The Royal Navy is governed by the Admiralty Board under the secretary of state for defense. Naval craft in the early 1990s included 2 aircraft carriers, 12 destroyers, 25 frigates, 20 (including 16 nuclear-powered) submarines, and many auxiliary vessels. The navy was in the process of reducing its fleet size in the mid-1990s. Navy personnel numbered about 59,300.

The Royal Flying Corps was established in 1912; in 1914 the naval wing of the corps became the Royal Naval Air Service, and in 1918 the two were amalgamated as the Royal Air Force. Since 1964 the air force has been under the unified Ministry of Defense. It is administered by the Air Force Board, headed by the secretary of state for defense. The air force is organized into home and overseas commands. In the early 1990s Royal Air Force personnel numbered some 80,900.

More than 85,000 British troops were deployed abroad in 1990. Contingents were serving in Germany, Belize, Brunei Darussalam, the Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Hong Kong, and Cyprus.

16. Customs and Traditions

There are many customs and traditions in England. And I would like to tell you some of them. First tradition is called "Wrong side of the bed" When people are bad tempered we say that they must have got out of bed on the wrong side. Originally, it was meant quiet literally. People believe that the way they rose in the morning affected their behavior throughout the day. The wrong side of the bed was the left side. The left always having been linked with evil. Second custom is called "Blowing out the candles" The custom of having candles on birthday cakes goes back to the ancient Greeks. Worshippers of Artemis, goddess of the moon and hunting, used to place honey cakes on the altars of her temples on her birthday. The cakes were round like the full moon and lit with tapers. This custom was next recorded in the middle ages when German peasants lit tapers on birthday cakes, the number lit indicating the person's age, plus an extra one to represent the light of life. From earliest days burning tapers had been endowed with mystical significance and it was believed that when blown out they had the power to grant a secret wish and ensure a happy year ahead. And the last tradition I would like to tell you is called "The 5th of November" On the 5th of November in almost every town and village in England you will see fire burning, fireworks, cracking and lighting up the sky. You will see too small groups of children pulling round in a home made cart, a figure that looks something like a man but consists of an old suit of clothes, stuffed with straw. The children will sing:" Remember, remember the 5th of November; Gun powder, treason and plot". And they will ask passers-by for "a penny for the Guy" But the children with "the Guy" are not likely to know who or what day they are celebrating. They have done this more or less every 5th of November since 1605. At that time James the First was on the throne. He was hated with many people especially the Roman Catholics against whom many sever laws had been passed. A number of Catholics chief of whom was Robert Catesby determined to kill the King and his ministers by blowing up the house of Parliament with gunpowder. To help them in this they got Guy Fawker, a soldier of fortune, who would do the actual work. The day fixed for attempt was the 5th of November, the day on which the Parliament was to open. But one of the conspirators had several friends in the parliament and he didn't want them to die. So he wrote a letter to Lord Monteagle begging him to make some excuse to be absent from parliament if he valued his life. Lord Monteagle took the letter hurrily to the King. Guards were sent at once to examine the cellars of the house of Parliament. And there they found Guy Fawker about to fire a trail of gunpowder. He was tortured and hanged, Catesby was killed, resisting arrest in his own house. In memory of that day bonfires are still lighted, fireworks shoot across the November sky and figures of Guy Fawker are burnt in the streets.

17. The Comparison Of Two Political Systems: Ukrainian And British Ones

1. The first distinction may seem to be the form of rule:

Ukraine is a republic. And Britain, as you probably know, is considered to be a parliamentary monarchy.

The Queen is the personification of the U.K. By law, she is the head of the executive branch, an integral part of the legislature, the head of the judiciary, the commander-in-chief of all armed forces of the Crown and the temporal head of the established Church of England. But in practice, as a result of a long evolutionary process, these powers have changed. Today, the queen acts only on the advice of her Ministers which she cannot constitutionally ignore. In fact she reigns but she doesn't rule.

However, the monarchy has a good deal more power than is commonly supposed. There remain certain discretionary powers in the hands of the monarch, known as the Royal Prerogative.

2. The Ukrainian and the British Parliaments have at least four similar functions:

to work out legislation, including the creation of a budget;

to control the government;

to represent and respond to public opinion;

to influence actively the people by acquainting them openly with the facts, concerning the accepted desisions.

The difference lies in the electoral systems and the rules for recalling the government.

But there is also one more remarkable peculiarity of the Ukrainian Parliament: the political history of Ukraine does not know any potent legislative bodies (we can hardly take into account the experience of the Soviet Congress ).

3. Both Ukraine and Britain are countries with the representative democracy (which means that the people delegate power to the bodies, which act on their behalf).

The difference is, that Britain has a parliamentary form of government, and Ukraine, in its turn, has a so-called «semi-presidential» form. The main distinctions of this forms are shown in the table, given below.

The British parliamentary form

The Ukrainian «semi-residential» form

1. The election solves two questions:

On one hand, the forming of the Parliament. And on the other hand, the creation of the Government and different coalitions.

1. The election solves just one question:

Either the problem of forming the Parliament or the creation of the Government.

2. The Government is formed only by the Parliament.

2. The Government is formed by both the President and the Parliament.

3. The executive Power is separated.

3. The executive Power is not separated.

4. Unlike Britain, Ukraine has different bodies of legislative and executive power, and one body doesn't interfere with the activity of the other.

5. The negative features of the British system may seem to be too much power in the hands of Prime Minister and rather uncontrolled local government.

18. Summary

Having compared two political systems, I have come to the conclusion that the form and the level of development of the systems are influenced greatly by the history of the State. The second factor is that of evolutionary progress, which usually improves the existing order and makes it more democratic.

Having analyzed two state systems, I have noticed the tendency towards the reinforcement of the executive power and a lessening of the legislative power. But still, parliament remains an integral institution in a democratic society.

I have studied the British political experience concerning the division of powers and I can say that with all its originality, the British System is not something unique or exceptional. This system should be taken as the foundation stone of the cooperation of two powers in countries with a representative democracy.

The reason for the lasting discussion of this problem in the Ukrainian Parliament lies not only in involving the interests of powerful persons. Actually, it is the result of the «amateur» level to understand this problem.

19. Conclusion

We have talked about the British parliament, government and its houses. About their making up and their laws. About the queen and their functions and about the Gladstone who had been in the Parliament had been its prime minister. About their defense and traditions and how it have make up. We have given about their local government, their customs and how and when we can visit the Parliament of the British, about constitution and about monarchy of Britian, the Parliaments parties.






M.Y.Mezey Comparative Legislatures, Durham, 1979

Основи держави і права України, 1993

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