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Three branches of government

Power in GB is divided among three branches: the legislative branch, the executive branch and the judicial branch. The legislative branch is represented by Parliament, which consists of two chambers, or houses; the House of Lords and the House of Commons

Тhе House of Lords. The other House of Parliament is the House of Lords. The House of Lords has more than 1, 000 members, although only about 250 take an active part in the work of the House. This House consists of those lords who sit by right of inheritance and those men and women who have been given life peerages which end with the life of their possessors. Members of this Upper House are not elected. They sit there because of their rank. The chairman of the House of Lords is the Lord Chancellor and he sits on a special seat called the Woolsack.

The members of the House of Lords debate a bill after it has been passed by the House of Commons. Changes may be recommended, and agreement between the two Houses is reached by negotiations. The Lords' main power consists of being able to delay non-financial bills for a period of a year, but they can also introduce certain types of bill. The House of Lords is the only non-elected second chamber in the parliaments of the world, and some people in Britain would like to abolish it.

The division of Parliament into two Houses goes back over some 700 years when a feudal assembly assisted the King. In modern times, real political power rests with the elected House although members of the House of Lords may occupy important cabinet posts.

The House of Commons. The House of Commons is made up of 650 elected members, known as Members of Parliament (MPs). The House of Commons is presided over by the Speaker, a member acceptable to the whole House, MPs sit on two sides of the hall, one side for the governing party and other for the opposition. The first two rows of seats occupied by the leading members of both parties (called 'front-benchers’), the back-benchers belong to the rank-and-file MPs ('back-benchers'). Each session of the House of Commons lasts for 160—175 days. Parliament has intervals during its work. MPs are paid for their parliamentary work and have to attend the sittings. MPs have to catch Speaker's eye when they want to speak, then they rise from where they have been sitting to address the House and must do so without either reading a prepared speech or consulting notes.

Although there is some space given to other government proposals, the lion's share of parliamentary time is taken by the party in power. A proposed law, a bill, has to go through three stages in order to become an Act of Parliament. These are саlled readings. The first reading is a formality and is simply the publication of the proposal. The second reading involves debate on the principles of the bill, its examination by a parliamentary committee, and the third reading - a report stage, when the work of the committee is reported on to the Ноusе. This is usually the most important stage in the process. The third reading is often a formality too; if six members table a motion, then there has to be a debate on the third reading. If the majority of MPs still vote for the bill, it is sent to the House of Lords for discussion. When the Lords agree, the bill is taken to the Queen for Royal assent. All bills must pass through both houses before being sent for signature by the Queen, when they become Acts of Parliament - the Law of the Land.

The executive branch is headed by the Prime Minister, who is appointed by the king (queen). According to tradition, the Prime Minister is the leader of the party that won the elections and has the majority in the House of Commons. The Prime Minister appoints the ministers to compose the government. After that the newly appointed ministers are presented to the monarch for the formal approval. The most important ministers of the government form the Cabinet. Members of the Cabinet make joint decisions or advise the Prime Minister.

The main function of the executive branch of the government is to administer the laws (to see to it that the laws are carried out).

The judicial branch interprets the laws. The highest judicial bode is the Supreme Court of Judicature, which consists of two divisions: the High Court of Justice and the Court of Appeal. It is often said that English law is superior to the law of most other countries. Indeed, the English judicial system contains many rules which protect the individual against arbitrary action by the police and the government.

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