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Question 13. The main brunches of the British State System and their functions.

The United Kingdom is a constitutional monarchy, which means that the powers of the monarch are limited the country constitution.

The British constitution, unlike that of most other countries, is an unwritten constitution, not being contained in any single legal document. It is formed partly by statute law (Acts of Parliament) and important documents (such as Magna Carta), partly by common law (a series of laws dating back to the Middle Ages), and partly by customs and conventions and can be altered by a simple Act of Parliament like any other law. The constitution thus is constantly changing in response to the interpretation of laws in the courts and the introduction of new Acts of Parliament and adapts readily to changing political conditions and ideas. In theory the Constitution safeguards the separation of powers between the legislature, the executive and the judiciary.

The legislature, which consists of both Houses of Parliament and formally the monarch, is the supreme authority, the supreme lawmaking body.

The executive consists of the Government – Cabinet and government ministries (or departments) headed by ministers (or secretaries of state). The government is responsible for putting laws into effect and directing national policy and acts formally in the name of the monarch.

The judiciary is composed mainly of the judges of the higher courts, who determine the common law and interpret Acts of Parliament and decide on cases arising out of the laws. The judiciary is supposed to be independent of the legislative and executive branches of government.

The organs of government are clearly distinguishable, although their functions often intermingle and overlap. The monarch is formally the head of executive, the legislature and the judiciary. A Member of Parliament (MP) in the House of Commons and a member of the House of Lords may both be in the government of the day. A Law Lord in the House of Lords also serves the House of Lords as the highest appeal court.

The division of powers is shown in the figure:

Legislature

Monarch

House of Lords

House of Commons

Executive

Government

Cabinet

Ministries

Judiciary

Judges

Courts

The main functions of British Parliament today are as follow:

  • To pass laws

  • To vote on financial bills so that the government could carry on this work

  • To discuss the government’s administrative, educational problems, etc.

  • To debate important political issues of the day.

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