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The Constitution


The Constitution

The United Kingdom is a parliamentary democracy and a constitutional monarchy. However, the constitution is not a single document, as in Italy, and most of it is not even in writing; some written parts come from documents as ancient as Magna Carta (1215), or from laws passed by Parliament, or are judgeme 414j92e nts given in courts. The unwritten parts include important practices that have developed over the years, and publicly accepted conventions. This set of rules has never been formally codified; therefore it is very flexible and can be modified at any time by an act of Parliament, or by people's acceptance of new usages. Therefore, it can be easily adapted to new political situation.

The Monarchy

The monarchy in Britain is over 1,000 years old and the crown in handed on by hereditary right. The present sovereign is Queen Elizabeth II, of the house of Windsor, who began her reign in 1952.

In the long course of British history the sovereign has lost absolute power and now he or she has only representative functions and simply performs a series of official acts of government decided by Parliament. Besides, by tacit agreement the monarch does not take any active part in politics.

The British acknowledge the queen or the King to be:

The head of the Nation

The Head of the legal system

The temporal Head of the Church of England

The Head of the Commonwealth

The Head of the Executive

The supreme legislative authority: all laws must receive the monarch-s assent before becoming effective

The command in Chief of the Armed Forces

Inoltre il monarca:

opens each session of Parliament by giving a speech that is prepared opens each session of Parliament by giving a speech that is prepared by the Government

Summons and dissolves Parl.

Officially agree to legislation passed by Parl. And can put her veto

Appoint the Prime Minister (the leader of the party that wins the election)

The monarch reigns but not rule.

The Parliament

The Parliament is a very old institution, dating to the 13TH century. Over the centuries it has seen its power grow at the expense of the sovereign-s prerogatives, stating in 1215 when King John was forced by barons to accept the Magna Carta. This document was a milestone in the development of the British monarchy into a constitutional monarchy as it gave for the first time a class of citizens, the barons control over some of the sovereign-s power.

The assembly of barons slip into two branches (barons and high clergy} start the bicameral system.

1689 The bill of rights

1701 Act of settlement

They are two fundamental acts limiting the monarch-s rights concerning the use of the money collected though taxation and succession to the throne. Established parliament-s inalienable rights to freedom of debate and legislation.

The House of Lords *Upper House

Has approximately 1,000 members nor elected by people and belong to one these groups:

Princess of the Royal Family

Spiritual Lords *archbishops of Canterbury and York and other 24 bishops(

Hereditary Peer noble families

Life peers and peeresses Outstanding services rendered to the nation

Low lords Judges for life

This House is presided by the lord Chancellor and is the Supreme Court of Appeal in civil and criminal cases.

Lord Chancellor is the Head of the Judiciary.

The lords cannot legislate. They examine bills passed by the Common and can alter them by amendment. They cannot reyet bill and if they do not approve it, can only delay it for an year.

The House of commons

The more influential of the two houses.

Is composed of 651 members chosen by the people at the general election.

They meet in Common, a hall in gothic style where sovereign is not admitted since the 17th century arrest of some members.


Debating bills and voting or reyecting them.

Examination of the action of the Government

Debate question of public interest.

Public and press can watch  the debate by the visitor-s Gallery.

The President is the Speaker elected at the beginning of each new Parliament.

Speaker directs and controls debates.

Political parties

The main political parties in Great Britain are the Conservative Party, the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats.

The Conservative Party

This party developed from the TORIES, which supported the monarchy in the 17th century. They have a conservative view of social life. They believe in free enterprise, private property and do not want that State to run business enterprises and want trade unions.

Labour party

Is defined Socialist party. It shares the issues socialist support in every country. They want heavy taxation and a redistribution of tax revenue in favour of needy social categories.

The liberal Democrats

They are defined ad centrist. Its programme is a compromise between the two views.

There are other little parties that promote the local interest of these areas, but is very difficult for small parties to obtain significant parliamentary representation.


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