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British Political System
Britain is a constitutional monarchy.This means that the official head of state is the monarch but that the monarch's power is limited. The legal authority lies with parliament, and the executive authority lies with the government.
There are two Houses of Parliament:the House of Commons, consisting of 659 MPs (Members of Parliament), and the House of Lords with over 1,100 members, called peers. Peers are not elected to the House of Lords but are entitled to membership either by inheriting a title (hereditary peer), by being given a title as a reward for public service which is not passed on to their children (life peer) or by holding a particular office, e.g. certain bishops of the Church of England and the Law Lords, who make up the highest Court of Appeal.
MPs are elected by a system called “first-past-the-post”: In each constituency the candidate with the most votes is elected - all the other votes are lost. The MPs usually belong to one of the major three parties, the Conservative Party, the Labour Party and the Liberal Democratic Party. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland also have MPs belonging to the nationalist parties. The main business of the House of Commonsis to make the laws of the land by passing Acts of Parliament. Another important function is that of checking the work of the government, which is regularly carried out by MPs asking government members questions about their policies. The work of the House of Lordsis confined to examining and revising bills passed by the House of Commons. (Once the House of Lords and the monarch have accepted the bills they become law and are called Acts).
The most important body of people in the government is the Cabinet.The Prime minister,who is the leader of the largest party in the Commons, chooses the members of the Cabinet, who are drawn mostly from the Commons. Ministers in the Cabinet are the heads of government departments, e.g. of education or finance. The ministers are assisted in their work by junior ministers and by civil servants; the latter are not politicians but normally know more about the running of the departments than the ministers do. The ministers depend on them for advice but are responsible for deciding on the policies of the departments.
Ex.1. Practice saying these words.
Ex.2. Match phrases in A with their equivalents in B.
Ex.3. Translate these sentences into Russian.
1. The legal authority lies with parliament, and the executive authority lies with the government.
2. Peers are not elected……….
3. MPs are elected by a system called “first-past-the-post”: In each constituency the candidate with the most votes is elected – all the other votes are lost.
4. The work of the House of Lords is confined to examining and revising bills passed by the House of Commons.
5. The ministers are assisted in their work by junior ministers and by civil servants; the latter are not politicians but normally know more about the running of the departments.
Ex.4. Use the text and find synonyms to the following.
1. to be owned (by) -
2. to be in charge of –
3. constantly, repeatedly –
4. to conduct, to control –
5. to license, to authorize, to allow –
6. to restrict, to restrain, to confine –
7. to receive from smb. (parents, grandparents, relatives), to get –
8. to execute, to fulfil –
9. to determine, to make up one`s mind –
10. to help –
Ex.5. Use the text and the table to answer the questions.
1. Which type of political system does Britain have?
2. What does this mean?
3. What does the Monarch mostly do?
4. What does the legal authority lie with?
5. What does the executive authority lie with?
6. What Houses does the Parliament consist of?
7. How many MPs are there in the Houses of Commons? Who elects them?
8. How many members are there in the House of Lords?
9. How are they called?
10. How are peers entitled to membership?
11. Who are life peers officially appointed by?
12. What system are MPs elected by? What does it mean?
13. What are Britain’s major parties?
14. What is the main business of the House of Commons?
15. What is the work of the House of Lords confined to?
16. What is the Cabinet?
17. How many ministers does the Cabinet consist of? What are they responsible for?
18. Who becomes the Prime Minister?
19. Who officially appoints the Prime Minister?
20. Who are the ministers assisted in their work by?
Ex.6. Use the words in the box and try to guess what is meant in each case.
policy, system, peer, a reward, function
1. a member of the British nobility who has the right to sit in the House of Lords –
2. an organized set of ideas, methods or ways of working –
3. the way in which something works or the way in which it is used –
4. a course of action that has been officially agreed and chosen by a political party, business or other organization –
5. something that you receive because you have done something good or helpful –
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