1. Ancient people on the territory of the British Isles. The Celts
| Lisburn Newry. The Northern Ireland economy is the smallest of the four economies making up the United Kingdom. Northern Ireland has traditionally had an industrial economy, most notably in shipbuilding, rope manufacture and textiles, but most heavy industry has since been replaced by services, primarily the public sector. Tourism also plays a big role in the local economy. More recently the economy has benefited from major investment by many large multi-national corporations into high tech industry. These large organizations are attracted by government subsidies and the highly skilled workforce in Northern Ireland.|
With its improved international reputation, Northern Ireland has recently witnessed rising numbers of tourists who come to appreciate the area's unique heritage. Attractions include cultural festivals, musical and artistic traditions, countryside and geographical sites of interest, pubs, welcoming hospitality and sports (especially golf and fishing). Since 1987 pubs have been allowed to open on Sundays, despite some limited vocal opposition.
Education in Northern Ireland differs slightly from systems used elsewhere in the United Kingdom. Unlike most areas of the United Kingdom, in the last year of Primary school, children can sit the eleven plus transfer test, and the results determine whether they attend Grammar schools or Secondary schools. This system is due to be changed in 2008 amidst some controversy. Irish Gaelic medium and Integrated Education are increasing. Northern Ireland still has a highly religiously segregated education system.
Northern Ireland consists of six counties:County Antrim County Armagh County Down County Fermanagh County Londonderry County Tyrone These counties are no longer used for local government purposes; instead there are twenty-six districts of Northern Ireland which have different geographical extents
However, geography is a much more important determinant of dialect than ethnic background. English is spoken as a first language by almost 100% of the Northern Irish population, though under the Good Friday Agreement, Irish and Ulster Scots (one of the dialects of the Scots language), sometimes known as Ullans, have recognition as "part of the cultural wealth of Northern Ireland" Approximately 14% of the population speak Irish, but only 1% speak it as their main language at home. Under the St Andrews Agreement, the British government has agreed to introduce an Irish language Bill, and a consultation period ending on the 2 March 2007 could see Irish becoming an official language, having equal validity with English, recognised as an indigenous language, or aspire to become an official language in the future..
26. Constitutional Monarchy. Powers and responsibilities. Public image.
The Bill of Rights (1689) was the first legal step towards constitutional monarchy. This Bill prevented the monarch from making laws without Parliament’s approval, guaranteed freedom of speech in Parliament, and forbade the king to interfere with the elections of its members. The Toleration Act (1689) granted religious freedom to various Protestant groups. The Act of Settlement (1691) made sure only a Protestant could inherit the crown, provided elections to the House of Commons, and declared that the new laws and taxes must be approved by Parliament and the monarch. The Triennial Act (1694) obliged the king to summon Parliament at least every three years. The Septennial Act (1715) increased the normal term of Parliament’s existence from three to seven years and made it possible for the government in office to support the constituencies on which its power depended. The power of Parliament has grown steadily, while the power of the monarch has weakened. In the eighteenth century Britain was more democratic than any other European state. The Reform Acts of 1832, 1867 and 1884 gave the vote to large numbers of male citizens (female since 1928).
The reigning monarch is not only head of state but also symbol of the unity of the nation. The monarchy is hereditary, the succession passing automatically to the oldest male child, or in the absence of males, to the oldest female offspring of the monarch. By Act of Parliament, the monarch must be a Protestant. In law the monarch is head of the executive and the judiciary, head of the Church of England, and commander-in-chief of the armed forces. The powers of the monarch are to summon, prorogue (or suspend until the next session) and dissolve Parliament; to give royal assent to legislation passed by Parliament; to appoint government ministers, judges, officers of the armed forces, governors, diplomats and bishops of the Church; to confer honours, such as peerages and knighthoods; to remit sentences passed on convicted criminals; to declare war on or make peace with an enemy power. In practice, with the exception of a few honours she is free to decide herself, the monarch discharges all these functions on the direction of the government.
By being a figurehead and representing the country, the monarch performs certain ceremonial duties, leaving the real government more time to get on with the actual job of running the country. The First World War strengthened the monarchy as the anchor of the nation. The members of the royal family take part in actions and activities of national or humanistic importance. Princess Diana visited AIDS victims in hospitals, attracted attention to the problems of lepers during her oversea tours. Anne, the Princess Royal, is famous for her work for the Save the Children Fund, which earned her the respect of the nation. Prince Charles has energetically made himself very well informed and active on a number of issues: homelessness and housing, inner city decay, small business enterprise among the unemployed, and architecture. The monarchy is also important for the economy of the country, providing tourist attraction. Occasions such as the state opening of Parliament, the Queen’s official birthday, royal weddings, the changing of the guard give British people a symbol of continuity, and an outlet for the expression of national pride. According to the national surveys, almost 80 per cent of the population are strongly in favour of the monarchy, and fewer than 10 per cent are opposed to it.
27. Houses of Parliament
The two Houses of Parliament, the Lords and the Commons, share the same building, the Palace of Westminster. The life of Parliament is divided into periods called ‘sessions. At the end of every session Parliament is ‘prorogued’; this means that all business, which has not been completed, is abandoned, and Parliament cannot meet again until it is formally summoned by the Queen. Every new session begins with a clean slate. A session normally lasts for about a year, from late October of one year to about the same date of the next year, though if a general election is held in the spring or summer the normal rhythm of the sessions is interrupted. Parliamentary holidays are: four weeks at Christmas, two each at Easter and Whitsun (Pentecost), and about eleven weeks in the summer (from the beginning of August until the middle of October).
The House of Commons is the dynamic power of the British Parliament. The Commons hold their seats during the life of a Parliament, normally 5 years. They can be elected ether at a general election, or at by-election held when a vacancy occurs in the House. Each parliamentary session begins with the ‘State Opening of Parliament’, a ceremonial occasion, beginning with the royal carriage procession from Buckingham Palace to the Palace of Westminster. The ceremony of opening the Parliament reminds MPs of their special status and of their ‘togetherness’. Approaching the House of Commons, ‘Black Rod’, a servant of the Queen, knocks on the door and demands that the MPs let the Queen come in and tell them what ‘her’ government is going to do in the coming year.
The Speaker is the chief officer of the House of Commons. There is no requirement for the Speaker when elected to be a member of the governing party, but once appointed, he or she is supposed to give up all party politics. The Speaker has two main functions: representing the House in its relations with the Crown, the House of Lords and other authorities and presiding over the House and enforcing the observance of all rules which govern its conduct. The Speaker chairs and controls discussion in the House, decides which MP is going to speak next and makes sure that the rules of procedure are followed. The Speaker also has a number of duties concerning the functions of the House and is in control of the Commons part of the Palace of Westminster and its precincts.
The Question Hour at the beginning of each day’s sitting is the most widely known and admired procedural device of the House of Commons. Two features of this procedure are mainly responsible for its usefulness and success: the use made of the supplementary question and the shortness of all the questions and answers. From thirty to fifty questions and up to a hundred supplementary are asked and answered during the hour each day. Questions must be handed in writing at least 48 hours ahead, to allow ministers and their departmental staff time to prepare an answer.
Traditionally, MPs were not supposed to be specialist politicians. They were ordinary citizens giving some of their time to representing the people. They were not paid until 1911, because sometimes they come from different walks of life. Even now, British MPs do not get paid very much in comparison with many of their European counterparts. MPs spend most of their time at small group meetings, or talking with colleagues or people who have come from their constituencies, or in the library, or in their offices answering letters or doing other paperwork, or away from Westminster altogether. Weekends are not free either. The MPs are expected to visit their constituencies, where they must make themselves available and accessible for local matters, complaints and attendance at formal functions. It is an extremely busy life that leaves little time for pursuing another career. It does not leave MPs much time for their families either. Politicians have a higher rate of divorce than the (already high) national average.
Parliament has other things to do as well as pass bills. The Government can not legally spend any money without the permission of the House of Commons. The House of Commons still keeps in close contact with taxation.
The House of Lords used to have and has got now no elected members and no fixed numbers. This House had existed long before the House of Commons and the basis of its membership changed very little in 900 years
Throughout history there had been two main categories of members of the house: those who succeeded to hereditary peerages, and thus hold their seats by right of succession. Those who have been created as peers (or bishops); that is, those on whom peerages, with the right to sit in the House of Lords, have been conferred by the Crown on the advice of the Prime Minister in office at the time of the conferment.
About two-thirds have inherited their peerages from their fathers or earlier ancestors in direct line of descent, and are described as ‘peers by succession’. Since 1958 nearly all new peerages have been non-hereditary. About twenty new peerages have been given each year (with big variations), nearly half of them to ex-ministers or other people who have been members of the House of Commons, the others to academics, doctors, trade union officials, businessmen and people with other types of experience. Most, but not all, have been aged over fifty and have been quite prominent in their various professions. In the pre-reform House of Lords most work was done by people who have been given peerages, rather than by those who have inherited them.
Despite being a chamber very conservative in nature, the House of Lords faced several successful reforms in the 20th century. These reforms focused on changes either to its powers or to its membership. The Parliament Acts, reforming this chamber, formally restricted the power of the House of Lords. It has no powers at all with ‘money bills’; bills enabling the Government to spend money or collect taxes go directly to the Queen for her formal approval after passing the Commons. Any other bill must pass both Houses, and if the Lords fail to agree to it in a form acceptable to the Commons by the end of a session of Parliament, the Commons may approve it again in the next session and send it to the Queen for her approval. As the new session begins a few days after the end of the previous one, the Lords can in practice delay the enactment of a bill by a few months.
One of the oldest functions of the House of Lords is judicial, though now this is ancillary to its essential role. In fact the House of Lords has become a vigorous and useful element in the political system, particularly in the 1980s, with a Conservative government in office.
The modern House of Lords is a forum for public discussion. Because its members do not depend on party politics for their position, it is sometimes able to bring important matters that the Commons has been ignoring into the open. The debates in the House of Lords are part of the general process of discussion in the nation as a whole, and may stimulate government action. More important still, it is argued, the Lords is a check on a government that, through its control of the Commons, could possibly become too dictatorial.
As a body representing the people as a whole the working House of Lords is in some ways better than the House of Commons in which mutually hostile men of the Conservative and Labour Parties are more predominant than the nation as a whole.
Prime Ministers can give knighthoods (more rarely peerages) to backbench MPs who have served the party long and well. Some honours are wholly non-political. A few (including peerages) are given on the proposal of the Leader of the Opposition, who then expect hard work for the party in the House of Lords in return. Most importantly, the power of choosing people to be honoured is extremely useful to the Prime Minister and Government, and to the whole hierarchy of administration.
Most of its time the House spends on the detailed consideration of the Government bills. Important bills go to the Lords after passing the Commons; some uncontroversial bills go through the Lords before the Commons, so as to balance the timetables of the two Houses during a session of Parliament. With each bill brought from the Commons the Lords debate the principles on second reading but normally agree without any formal vote. Their main work is to approve or reject proposals to amend bills, after discussions that include statements of the Government’s wishes, made by a minister from the front bench.
Whatever the party in power, the House makes most decisions without voting, according to the Government’s advice, but votes (‘divisions’) have become much more frequent now.
The administration is vested by the Lord Chancellor as the Head of the House and a number of office holders. These include ministers, government Whips, the Leader and Chief Whip of the main opposition party, and two Chairmen of Committees. These office holders together with the Law Lords receive salaries. All other members are unpaid, but they are entitled to reimbursement of their expenses, within maximum limits for each day of attendance. The Clerk of the Parliaments is head of the administration. The Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod has ceremonial and royal duties and is charge of security, access and domestic matters.
28. The House of Commons
The House of Commons is the lower house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, which also comprises (включает) the Sovereign and the House of Lords (the upper house). Both Commons and Lords meet in the Palace of Westminster. The Commons is a democratically elected body, consisting of 646 members, who are known as "Members of Parliament" or MPs. Members are elected. The House of Commons was originally far less powerful than the House of Lords, but today its legislative powers exceed those of the Lords. The Speaker is the chief officer of the House of Commons. This office has been held continuously since 1377. For hundreds of years, it was the Speaker’s job to communicate the decisions of the Commons to the King (that is where the title ‘Speaker’ comes from). The speaker has two main functions: representing the House in its relations with the Crown, the House of Lords and other authorities and presiding (председательствовать) over the House and enforcing (осуществлять) the observance (соблюдение) of all rules. In fact, the Speaker is, officially, the second most important ‘commoner’ (non-aristocrat) in the kingdom after the Prime Minister.
The Leader of the House (appointed by the government) agrees with the Prime Minister the general business, including debates, which they want. The Government determines the order in which the business will be taken, after consultation with the Opposition. Twenty opposition days each session allow the Opposition to choose the subject for debate.
When Parliament is sitting the House meets at 2.30 pm on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, and at 9.30 am on Wednesday and Friday. The proceedings open with Prayers read by the Speaker’s Chaplain. After Prayers the Speaker takes the Chair and members of the public can enter the galleries. Visitors are described, in the language of Parliament, as ‘strangers’. It is usually possible to get a seat in the Strangers’ Gallery of the House of Lords at any time, but it is not so easy to get into the House of Commons Gallery, particularly in the summer, when London is full of tourists.
After any private business (or if there is none - immediately after Prayers) Question time begins and continues until 3.30 pm.
Members and elections
Since 1948, each Member of Parliament represents a single constituency (избирательный округ). There remains a technical distinction between county
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