Life in the United Kingdom, A Journey to Citizenship

Chapter 4- Part I

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Chapter 2
Part I
Part II
Part III
Chapter 3
Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV
Chapter 4
Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV
Part V
Part VI
Chapter 5
Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV
Part V
Part VI
Part VII
Chapter 6
Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV
Part V

THE WORKING SYSTEM

Parliamentary democracy
The British system of government is a parliamentary democracy. General elections are held at least every five years, and voters in each constituency elect their MP (Member of Parliament) to sit in the House of Commons. Most MP5 belong to a political party, and the party with the largest number of MP5 in the House of Commons forms the government, with the more senior MP5 becoming ministers in charge of departments of state or heads of committees of Mps.

The Prime Minister
The Prime Minister (PM) is the leader of the party in power. He or she appoints (and dismisses) ministers of state, and has the ultimate choice and control over many important public appointments. The Prime Minister's leading ministers form the Cabinet. The Prime Minister used to be called (in the lawyers" Latin of the old days) "primus inter pares", first among equals; but nowadays the office has become so powerful that some people liken it to the French or American Presidency, an office directly elected by the people for a fixed term.

However, a Prime Minister who is defeated in an important vote in the House of Commons, or who loses the confidence of the Cabinet, can be removed by their party at any time. This rarely happens, but when it does, the event is dramatic and the effects can be great. For example, Winston Churchill replaced Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain in 1940; and Margaret Thatcher was forced to resign in 1990, when she lost the confidence of her colleagues.

Modern Prime Ministers have their official residence at 10 Downing Street, and have a considerable staff of civil servants and personal advisers. The PM has special advisers for publicity and relations with the press and broadcasting media - all of which adds to the power of the Prime Minister over his or her colleagues. Government statements are usually reported as coming from "Number Ten". If something is directly attributed to the Prime Minister it is of special importance.

The Cabinet
The Cabinet is a small committee of about twenty senior politicians who normally meet weekly to decide the general policies for the Government. Amongst those included in the Cabinet are ministers responsible for the economy (the Chancellor of the Exchequer), law and order and immigration (the Home Secretary), foreign affairs (the Foreign Secretary), education, health, and defence. Cabinet decisions on major matters of policy and law are submitted to Parliament for approval.

 

 

 

 

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