The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

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  1. The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland Also known as: The UK England Britain Consists of Four “nations” 1) England 2) Scotland 3) Wales 4) Northern Ireland

  2. The United Kingdom Key Concepts • The “unwritten” Constitution: Constitutional Change • Based on Tradition, legislation, transfer of power from Monarch • Unitary System of Government that has devolved power • Parliamentary System of Government • Gradual Democratic Power • Beginning with the Magna Carta • Dual executive (monarchy) • Welfare state: Collectivism http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/commandingheights/

  3. Executive Branch • Prime Minister • Speaks legitimately for all Members of Parliament • Chooses Cabinet Ministers and important subordinate posts • Makes decisions in the Cabinet, with the agreement of the ministers • Campaigns for and represents the party in parliamentary elections • Can call for a referendum ( with an Act of Par.)

  4. Executive Branch • The Monarch • Queen Elizabeth II • Queen since 1952 • Head of State: goes to official state visits abroad • Head of the armed forces: Declares war and declares the end of war (with PM) • Opens Parliament • Head of Church of England: appoints archbishops and bishops • Reads red box of documents and papers for her signature each week • Makes visits: hospitals, schools, and factories

  5. Comparative Executives PM of Britain President of the US Elected every four years by an electoral college based on popular election Elected as President Has an excellent chance of ending up in gridlock with Congress Cabinet members usually don’t come from Congress Some expertise in policy areas, one criteria for their appointment, head vast bureaucracies • Serves only as he/she remains leader of the majority party • Elected as a member of Parliament • Has an excellent chance of getting his programs past Parliament • Cabinet members are always MP’s and leaders of the majority party • Cabinet members not experts in policy areas, rely on bureaucracy to provide expertise, most legislation comes from the Cabinet

  6. Parliamentary Rule in UK • Westminster Model = parliamentary sovereignty • Bicameralism - House of Commons - House of Lords • Fusion of power • Irregular Elections • Indirect selection of Prime Minister

  7. Parliament • The Westminster Model • In the 1200’s, Parliament became officially recognized as a gathering of feudal barons summoned by the king whenever he required their consent to special taxes • During the 15th century they gained the right to make laws

  8. House of Commons • The Lower House of Parliament • Elections must take place at least once every 5 years • Members of Parliament represent a single geographic district (constituency) • Around 651 MP’s in the Commons ( pop. elected) • House of Commons can be dissolved and new elections called after a no-confidence vote or vote of confidence demonstrates the Commons’ lack of faith in the current government • If a party loses the vote of confidence, all MP’s lose their jobs, so there is plenty of motivation to vote party lines

  9. House of Commons • Regional Party Differences • Conservative and Labour dominate urban and northern districts • Conservatives dominate rural • Labour and Nationalist dominate Scotland

  10. House of Commons • Voting • 10 minutes • Members move into special division lobbies • Doors are locked • Debate in the House of Commons is very spirited • Once a week Question Hour • PM and Cabinet must defend themselves from opposition party and sometimes own party. • Speaker of the House presides over the debates • Usually from the minority party

  11. House of Lords • The upper house of UK’s parliament • Heredity peers – nobility (Blair limited this ) • Life peers (appt by Crown on rec by PM) • Used to be Roughly 1200 members ( roughly 692 now) • The only real power is the power to delay legislation. Can delay passage of Commons legislation for up to 2 years except in financial matters where it is powerless • Provides expertise in redrafting legislation from the House of Commons • Final Court of Appeals- The Law Lords • For civil cases throughout Britain • For criminal cases in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland • Replaced by the UK Supreme Court in October 2009

  12. Being an MP and Question Hour • Role of an MP ( Member of Parliament) in the House of Commons -What is relationship between MP and constituency? • The legislative process in the House of Commons -Define white paper. -What is the role of committees? -What is the role of House of Lords? • Prime Minister’s Question Time and http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/QuestionTime802 - What do you observe about behavior? - What topics? - How would our President do in this forum? Alternative Voting? http://www.wimp.com/alternativevoting/

  13. UK Supreme Court & Legislative Process Useful Video links: • http://compgovpol.blogspot.com/2009/10/video-on-uk-supreme-court.html Role of an MP http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1iL3F-q1aLA How laws are made http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z-Ni-h8R2d0

  14. GB Legislative Process • Bills must be introduced in the H of C and the H of L • Bills may come from the following: parties, pressure groups, think tanks, PM policy, or government departments • H of Commons: • Tradition !!! • Bill usually comes to the floor 3 times ( first reading, second reading, and third reading) • 1st – Printed and distributed and debated in general terms • 2nd – vote, then for detailed review in committee, added amendments may happen • 3rd – final form and voted on without debate

  15. Cont. • Follows a parallel path in the H of Lords • Accepted without change, amended, or rejected • If bill deals with taxation or budgetary matters, then is will not be amended • After all these stages, the bill will go to the Crown for royal assent ( approval) • Becomes an Act of Parliament

  16. Cabinet • Cabinet contains the PM and about 2 dozen ministers • Ministers must be members of Parliament (Commons or Lords) • Shadow Cabinet: minority party members in case their party comes to power • Foreign Office (Sec of State) • Chancellor of the Exchequer (Treasury) • Until recently, the Cabinet controlled monetary policy which is now controlled by the bank of England

  17. Cabinet • Key functions of the Cabinet • Responsible for policy making • Supreme control of the government • Coordination of all government departments • PM has the responsibility of shaping their decisions into policy • Cabinet does not vote • They take collective responsibility- they support the policy making of the PM

  18. The Judiciary • English ideas about justice have shaped those of many other modern democracies • Trial by jury • English Common Law ( Legal year starts on Oct. 1) • However, the use of parliamentary sovereignty has limited the development of judicial review • By tradition, the courts may not impose their rulings on Parliament, the PM , or the cabinet • Judges are appt for good behavior- expected to retire by age 75 and most have studied at Oxford or Cambridge

  19. The Judiciary • Since Britain is bound by EU treaties and laws, it is the judges responsibility to interpret them and determine whether or not EU laws conflict with parliamentary statues. Many conflicts between supranational and national laws. • 1999- The European Court on Human Rights ruled that Britain may not exclude gays and lesbians from serving in the military under EU law

  20. GB Political Parties and Interest Groups • Two Party System • Labour Party ( working class ) and Conservative Party ( upper socioeconomic elite) • Liberal Democratic Party ( most represented 3rd party), they fight for PR ( Proportional Representation) • Scottish National Party, Plaid Cymru • “First – past-the post” ( plurality ) • Single Member District

  21. GB Interest Groups • For many years is was Corporatist • means that the government would rely • on a handful of key peak associations • to draft “white papers” (proposed leg.) • Ex….. Labour Unions • Margret Thatcher became PM, she dismantled this relationship and the interest groups became more pluralistic.

  22. DEVOLUTION !!!! • The giving away of power that the central government to the regional governments • Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales have their own elected legislatures as well • This gives them the ability to make certain policies that affect them…taxation

  23. Election of 2010 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Kingdom_general_election,_2010 • Results yielded the coalition government • David Cameron is Prime Minister, Nick Clegg Deputy Prime Minister • Conservatives had to make some concessions to get coalition