The Political System of the United Kingdom

The United Kingdom is a constitutional monarchy. This means that it has a monarch (a king or a queen) as its Head of State. She approves all the Ministers, including the Prime Minister. However the monarch takes no part in the decision-making process. The monarch can only reign with the support of Parliament.

Parliament consists of two chambers - the House of Commons and theHouse of Lords. Parliament and the monarch only meet together on symbolic occasions such as the coronation of a new monarch or the opening of Parliament. In reality, only the House of Commons has true power. The House of Commons is made up of 651 Members of Parliament (MPs). They are elected at a general election. Everyone over the age of 18 can vote in an election. Parliamentary elections must be held every five years.

The House of Lords has more than 1,000members, although only about 250 take an active part in the work of the House. The House consists of hereditary and life peers and peeresses, a certain number of Irish and Scottish peers, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, bishops and judges. They debate a bill after it has been passed by the House of Commons. A decision is accepted if a quorum of three Lords is present. The Lord Chancellor is chairman and sits on a special seat called the Woolsack.TheHouse of Lords is the only non-elected chamber among all the democracies in the world. Some people in Great Britain would like to abolish it.

After each general election the King or Queen invites the leader of the majority party in the House of Commons to become Prime Minister and form theGovernment. Prime Ministers are powerful and important people. They are powerful because they have the majority support in Parliament and they can choose their own ministers and government. The PMchooses a committee of ministers called the Cabinet. The Cabinet meets at the Prime Minister’s house – 10 Downing Street. The Cabinet works as a team and all ministers must accept the decisions of the “group”.

The British political scene is dominated by a two-party system: one party in power, the other in opposition. They are the Conservative (1867) and the Labour Parties (1900). The Conservative Party, often called the Tory Party (“tory” means an Irish highwayman) is the party of the middle and upper classes. The Labour Party, on the other hand, has always had strong links with the trade unions and receives financial support from them. Among the other parties are theLiberal Party, the Scottish National Party, the Communist Party of Britain and so on.

4 Find in the text the English equivalents to the following Russian words:

конституционная монархия, избирать, принимать участие, палаты парламента, символические случаи, архиепископ, принят палатой общин, неизбираемая палата, команда, влиятельные и важные люди, премьер-министр, политическая сцена, финансовая поддержка

5 Give the Russian equivalents to the following English words and phrases:

is made up of, approve, the decision-making process, has true power, a certain number, debate a bill, hereditary peers, is accepted, to abolish, the leader of the majority party, is dominated by, the middle and upper classes, the trade unions

6 Answer the following questions:

1) What does the constitutional monarchy mean?

2) Who is the head of the state? Who is the head of the government?

3) What are the functions of the queen?

4) What chambers does the Parliament consist of?

5) When do the monarch and the parliament usually meet?

6) Who can vote in elections?

7) Where does the Lord Chancellor sit?

8) Who becomes the Prime Minister of the Government?

9) Where does the Cabinet usually work?

10) How many political parties are there in Britain?

7 Complete the following statements:

1) The queen approves…….

2) ………….. has true power.

3) The house of Commons is made up of……..

4) The house of Lords consists of…….

5) The House of Lords can pass the bill after ……

6) The Cabinet meets……..

7) The Cabinet works……..

8) “Tory” means……..

9) Prime-Ministers choose…….

10) The Labor Party has strong links with……

8 Express your agreement or disagreement with the following statements:

1) The queen is the head of the government.

2) Every person over the age of twenty one can vote in an election.

3) The members of Parliament represent an area of the UK and are elected at general elections.

4) Some people in Britain would like to cancel the House of Lords.

5) The queen appoints Prime Minister and its Cabinet.

6) Prime Minister and Cabinet meet in Whitehall.

7) Great Britain has a three-party system: Labour party, Liberal party and Conservative party.

8) Prime-Ministers are powerful people because they are very rich.

9 Retell the text.


1 Read and learn the following words:

republic [rɪˊpᴧblɪk] республика
supreme [sᴜˊpri:m] верховный
branch [brɑ:ntʃ] ветвь
legislative [ˊledӡɪslǝtɪv] законодательный
executive [ɪɡˊzekjᴜtɪv] исполнительный
judicial [dӡᴜˊdɪʃl] юридический
Congress [ˊkɒŋɡres] конгресс
Senate [ˊsenǝt] сенат
Representatives [ˏreprɪˊzentǝtɪvz] представители
foreign [ˊfɒrǝn] зарубежный, иностранный
ceremony [ˊserǝmǝnɪ] церемония
to develop [tǝ dɪˊvelǝp] развивать(ся)
to register [tǝ ˊredӡɪstǝ] регистрировать(ся)

2 Read the words in the bold types. Pay attention to the pronunciation and the stress. Translate them into Russian.

3 Read and translate the text.

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