Parliament is the most important authority in Britain. Parliament first met in the 13th century. Britain does not have a written constitution, but a set of laws. In 1689 Mary II and William П1 became the first constitutional monarchs. They could rule only with the support of the Parliament. Technically Parliament is made up of three parts: The Monarch, the House of Lords and the House of Commons.
The continuity of the English monarchy has been interrupted only once during the Cromwell republic. Succession to the throne is hereditary but only for Protestants in the direct line of descent. Formally the monarch has a number of roles. The monarch is expected to be politically neutral, and should not make political decisions. Nevertheless, the monarch still performs some important executive and legislative duties including opening and dissolving Parliament, signing bills passed by both Houses and fulfilling international duties as head of state. The present sovereign is Queen Elizabeth II who was crowned in Westminster Abbey in 1953.
The House of Lords comprises about 1200 peers. The house is presided over by the Lord Chancellor. The House of Lords has no real power but acts as an advisory council for the House of Commons. As well as having legislative functions, the Lords is the highest court of appeal.
The House of Commons consists of Members of Parliament who are elected by the adult suffrage of the British people in general elections which are held at least every five years. The country is divided into 650 constituencies each of which elects one Member of Parliament. The Commons, therefore, has 650 Members of Parliament. The party which wins the most seats forms the Government and its leader becomes the Prime Minister. The functions of Commons are legislation and security of government activities. The house is presided over by the Speaker. The government party sits on the Speaker’s right while on his left sit the members of the Opposition.
1. What is the most important authority in Britain?
2. Does Great Britain have its constitution?
3. Who were the first constitutional monarchs?
4. What are the parts the Parliament made up of?
5. Does the monarch have any duties?
6. Who is present sovereign?
7. How many peers are there in the House of Lords?
8. Does the House of Lords have real power?
9. How are the Members of Parliament elected?
10. How many Members of Parliament are there in the House of Commons?
11. Who becomes the Prime Minister?
Британские институты власти
Парламент — самая важная власть в Британии. Парламент впервые появился в XIII веке. В Британии нет конституции, но имеется свод законов.
В 1689 году Мери II и Вильям III стали первыми конституционными монархами. Они могли править только с поддержкой парламента. Парламент состоит из трех частей: монарх, палата лордов и палата общин.
Продолжительность английской монархии прерывалась только однажды — во времена республики Кромвеля. Право наследования престола передается по наследству, но только для протестантов, происходящих по прямой линии династии. Формально монарх имеет несколько ролей. Ожидается, что монарх должен быть политически нейтральным и не должен принимать политических решений. Однако монарх тем не менее осуществляет некоторые важные исполнительные и законодательные обязанности, включая созыв и роспуск парламента, подписывает билль, прошедший в обеих палатах, и исполняет международные обязанности как глава государства. Теперешний монарх — Королева Елизавета II, которая была коронована в Вестминстерском аббатстве в 1953 году.
Палата лордов состоит из 1200 пэров. Палата возглавляется лордом-канцлером. Палата лордов не имеет реальной власти, но действует как консультативный совет для палаты общин. Выполняя законодательные функции, лорды являются Верховным Апелляционным Судом.
Палата общин состоит из членов парламента, которые побираются взрослым британским населением, имеющим право голоса, на всенародных выборах, которые проходят как минимум каждые пять лет. Страна разделена на 650 конституционных округов, из которых выбирается по одному члену парламента. Общины, таким образом, насчитывают 650 членов парламента. Партия, которая выигрывает большинство депутатских кресел, формирует правительство, а ее лидер становится премьер-министром. Функции общин — законодательство и гарантии деятельности правительства. Палату возглавляет спикер. Партия правительства сидит на местах справа от спикера, в то время как слева от него сидят члены оппозиции.
Источник: 100 тем английского языка. Авторы Каверина В. Бойко В. Жидких Н.
The British Parliament works in a large building called the Palace of Westminster (The Houses of Parliament). It contains offices, committee rooms, restaurants, libraries and even some places of residence. It also contains two large rooms. One is where the House of Lords meets, the other is where the House of Commons meets. The British Parliament is divided into two Houses and its members belong to one or other of them. (Only members of Commons are known as MPs — Members of Parliament.) The Commons is more important of the two Houses.
The person who chairs and controls discussion in the House of Commons is the Speaker. He (or she) decides which MP is going to speak next and makes sure that the rules of procedure are followed. In fact, the Speaker is, officially, the second important «commoner» in the Kingdom after the Prime Minister. In 1992 for the first time a woman was appointed Speaker, so nowadays MPs address her «Madam Speaker».
Traditionally, MPs were not supposed to be professional politicians. They were supposed to be ordinary people, bringing their experience into Parliament. They were not even paid until the beginning of this century. They were supposed to be doing a public service. But that meant that only rich people could be MPs.
Politics in Britain in the last forty years has become professional. Most MPs are full-time politicians and do another job (if at all) only part-time.
Traditionally the House doesn’t sit in the morning. It starts its business at 2.30 p. m. (only on Friday it starts in the morning). MPs’ mornings are devoted to committee work, research, preparing speeches. Weekends are not free for MPs.
The House of Commons is made up of 650 elected members. MPs sit on two sides of the hall, 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 (front- benches).
Each session lasts for 160—175 days. A proposed law (a bill) has to go through three stages (readings) to become an Act of Parliament. If the majority of MPs vote for the bill, it is sent to the House of Lords. When the Lords agree it is taken to the Queen for Royal assent.
Unlike MPs, members of the House of Lords («peers») are not elected. They are holders of an inherited aristocratic title. The House of Lords is therefore a relic of earlier times. The House of Lords has more than 1,000 members, but only about 250 take an active part in the work of the House. The House of Lords has little real power nowadays. The power to refuse a proposal for a law (which has been agreed by the Commons) is limited.
The modern House of Lords is a forum for public discussions. The division of Parliament into two Houses dates back as 700 years. Today the elected House of Commons has real political power, although members of the House of Lords occupy important posts.
I. Answer the questions.
1. What is the official name of the Houses of Parliament?
2. Who is the second important person in the Kingdom after the Prime Minister?
3. When was a woman appointed Speaker for the first time?
4. Who has more real power: the House of Lords or the House of Commons?
5. How are the first two rows of seats in the House of Commons called?
6. How many readings has the bill to pass?
II. Explain the meaning of the following words and expressions.
1. MPs —
2. The Speaker —
3. frontbenches —
4. Royal assent —
5. Full-time politicians —
6. A relic of earlier times —
III. Complete the sentences.
1. The British Parliament works in a large building, called ….
2. The British Parliament is divided into two ….
3. The Speaker makes sure that the rules … .
4. In … a woman was appointed . . .
5. The House of Commons is made up of . .. members.
6. When the Lords agree the bill is taken to . . . for ….
7. The House of Lords has more than … members.
8. Members of the House of Lords are holders of . . . .
9. The division of Parliament into two Houses dates back as . . . .
10. Today the . . . has real political power.
(Answers III. 1. the Houses of Parliament; 2. Houses; 3. are followed; 4. 1992; Speaker; 5. 650; 6. the Queen; Royal assent; 7. 1,000; 8. an inherited aristocratic title; 9. 700 years; 10. elected House of Commons.)
(Великобритания: Тексты для устных ответов и письменных работ на английском языке. Авт.-сост. И. Ю. Баканова)