THE POLITICAL STRUCTURE AND ELECTIONS IN Great Britain 39
Great Britain is a constitutional monarchy. Britain is administered from the centre of Westminster in London. Technically the UK is ruled by the Parliament, the Prime minister and the Monarch (at the moment the Queen Elizabeth 11 who has been in power since 1953). She is formally the Head of the State.
The Parliament which is the oldest in Europe (1258) made up of two chambers (палаты) — the House of Commons and the House of Lords.
The House of Commons has 651 seats which are occupied by Members of Parliament (MPs) who are elected by the British people during general elections which are held every five years. The country is divided into 650 constituencies (избирательные округа) each of which elects one Member of Parliament (MP).
The party which wins the elections gets the most seats in the House of Commons and forms the Government. Its leader becomes the Prime Minister.
The House of Commons 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.
Although Britain is called constitutional monarchy it does not have a written constitution, but a set of laws. Most legislation (законодательство) originates in the Commons. The Bill becomes a law when it is debated and confirmed after three hearings by the MPs, then debated in the Lords and finally signed by the Queen.
The House of Lords comprises about 1 200 members. The members of the House of Lords are not elected: they sit in the House because they are aristocrats who have inherited their seats from their fathers or those who got the titles from the Queen and also bishops (эпископы) of the Church of England.
This House has no real power but acts as an advisory council for the House of Commons.
The House of Lords is presided over by the Lord Chancellor (Лорд Kанцлер, председатель суда) and is the highest court of appeal.
The Queen opens and closes the sessions of the Parliament.
The English monarchy has been interrupted only once during the Revolution and the Cromwell republic. Succession (наследование) to the throne is hereditary (наследственное). Formally the monarch has a number of roles. The monarch is expected to be politically neutral, and should not make political decisions. Nevertheless , Queen Elizabeth the Second still performs some important executive and legislative duties (исполнительные и законодательные обязанности) including opening and dissolving Parliament, signing bills (законопроекты) passed by both Houses and fulfilling international duties, visits to foreign countries, and especially those to the Commonwealth (Содружество наций), whose interests and welfare (благосостояние) are very important to her. She started the tradition of the "walkabouts", when she walks among the public crowds and stops to talk to some people. The annual Christmas broadcast made by the Queen on radio and television has become a traditional. The Queen's husband is Duke of Edinburgh and her heir (наследник) is Charles, Prince of Wales, who was born in 1948, married Lady Diana Spencer and has two children, Prince William and Prince Harry. Diana died in a car accident in August, 1997. The Queen's other children are Princess Anne, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward.