1. Ancient people on the territory of the British Isles. The Celts
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(графский) constituencies and borough (городской) constituencies, but the only effect of this difference is the amount of money candidates are allowed to spend during campaigns. The boundaries of the constituencies are determined by four permanent and independent Boundary Commissions, one each for England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. The Commissions conduct general reviews of electoral boundaries once every 8 to 12 years, as well as a number of interim reviews. In drawing boundaries, they are required to take into account local government boundaries, but may deviate from this requirement in order to prevent great disparities in the populations of the various constituencies. The proposals of the Boundary Commissions are subject to parliamentary approval, but may not be amended. After the next general review of constituencies, the Boundary Commissions will be absorbed into the Electoral Commission, which was established in 2000. Currently the United Kingdom is divided into 646 constituencies, with 529 in England, 40 in Wales, 59 in Scotland, and 18 in Northern Ireland.
The date of a General Election is the choice of the Prime Minister, but traditionally, it tends to be a Thursday. Each candidate must submit nomination papers signed by ten registered voters from the constituency, and pay a deposit of £500, which is refunded only if the candidate wins at least five per cent of the vote. Minors, Members of the House of Lords, prisoners, and insane persons are not qualified to become Members of the House of Commons. In order to vote, one must be a resident of the United Kingdom as well as a citizen of the United Kingdom, of a British overseas territory, of the Republic of Ireland, or of a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. British citizens living abroad are allowed to vote for 15 years after moving from the United Kingdom. No person may vote in more than one constituency. Once elected, Members of Parliament normally continue to serve until the next dissolution of Parliament. If a Member, however, dies or ceases to be qualified, his or her seat falls vacant.
The term "Member of Parliament" is normally used only to refer to Members of the House of Commons, even though the House of Lords is also a part of Parliament. Members of the House of Commons may use the post-nominal letters "MP". The annual salary of each Member is currently £59,095. Traditionally, MPs were not supposed to be specialist politicians. They were ordinary citizens giving some of their time to representing the people. Ideally, they came from all walks of life, bringing their experience of the everyday world into Parliament with them. This is why MPs were not even paid until 1911. Evidently, this meant that only rich people could afford to be MPs. But many MPs need to have outside earnings, through journalism, work in the law courts or business, to enable them to live at the standard they expect. Moreover, by European standards, British MPs have incredibly poor facilities. Most MPs have to share an office and a secretary with two or more other MPs.
The ideal of the talented amateur does not, of course, reflect modern reality. Politics in Britain has become professional. Most MPs are full-time politicians, and do another job, if at all, only part-time. The average modern MP spends more time at work than any professional in the country. From Monday to Thursday, the Commons never ‘rises’ (finishes work of the day) before 22.30, and sometimes it continues sitting for several hours longer. Occasionally, it debates through most of the night.
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.
The House of Commons spends about 1,500 hours a year in session. During any year almost every aspect of the nation’s business is dealt with in debate. A typical full-day debate lasts about five to six hours, with opening and closing speeches by ministers and shadow ministers.
The House of Commons has six administrative and executive departments. The Clerk’s Department advises the Speaker and MPs (including ministers) on the practice and procedure of the House. The Department of the Sergeant-at-Arms deals with order and security in the precincts of the House, ceremonial and communications, and with accommodation matters. The Department of the Library provides MPs with every kind of oral and written information that they may need in connection with their parliamentary duties, including books and documents. The library maintains sophisticated indexing systems and press cutting services. The Public Information Office of the House of Commons is administered by the Department of the Library. The Department of the Official Report is responsible for reporting all the sittings of the House and its standing committees, and producing the Official Report. The Administration Department provides certain common services and coordination for all departments in the administrative fields of finance, establishment and general staffing matters. The Refreshment Department makes available eating and drinking facilities to members and staff of the House, whenever the House is sitting, no matter how late that might be. The six administrative departments of the House are under the supervision of the House of Commons Commission, composed of MPs, and chaired by the Speaker.
Although it does not elect the Prime Minister, the position of the parties in the House of Commons is of overriding importance. By convention the Prime Minister is answerable to, and must maintain the support of, the House of Commons. Thus, whenever the office of Prime Minister falls vacant, the Sovereign appoints the person most likely to command the support of the House—normally the leader of the largest party in the Commons.
29. The House of Lords
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. Members of the House of Lords (known as peers) consist of Lords Spiritual (senior bishops) and Lords Temporal (lay peers). Law Lords (senior judges) also sit as Lords Temporal.
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).
Apart from the bishops of the Church of England, who hold seats until they retire, all its members are lords who hold peerages.
About two-thirds have inherited their peerages from their fathers 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.
Only about 200 Lords attended nearly every day, another 100 at least half the days of sitting and 300 between a tenth and half the days. At most times there were more women present than in the House of Commons.
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.
In 1922 the Liberal government proposed heavy taxes on the rich. The House of Lords rejected the proposal. This rejection went against a long-standing tradition that the House of Commons had control of financial matters. Two rationalizations were made by statute around 1960. Until 1958 there was a rule, based only on custom, that if a new peerage was given to man, it must be inherited by his eldest son and then by his eldest son, and so on indefinitely. The Life Peerages Act of 1958 made it lawful to give peerages for the lifetime of their holders only, without inheritance, to women as well as men. A second modernization was the introduction of payment of allowances paid to peers for each day’s attendance at the House, together with their expenses including travel. A peer who attends every day gets much less than an MP. Another change was a law of 1963 making it possible for a peer to renounce (отказаться) his peerage and so become eligible for election to the House of Commons.
The partially reformed House of Lords met for the first time in November 1999. The removal of most of the hereditary peers has cut the size of the chamber by almost half, from 1330 peers in the unreformed house to 699 in March 2000. As a result, the House is much more politically balanced, the Labour and the Conservative having broadly similar numbers of members. Liberal Democrat peers, crossbenchers (независимый член парламента) and other hold the balance of power in the chamber. A new House of Lords is playing a more active role. There was traditionally a large number of Conservative peers in the Lords but in the current body of the House of Lords 178 were once MPs (Conservatives 80, Labour 60, Liberal Democrats 22, Cross-benchers 11, other 5).
There are now about 400 ‘created’ peers. About fifty are women. In 2003 the longest serving Lord was the Earl Jellicoe, who held the title of the Father of the House (he was born 4.4.1918 and he took his seat in 1939). The youngest Lord is the Lord Freyberg (born 15.12.1970). The average age of all members of the House of Lords was 67. In year 2003 there were 113 female peers (109 Life and 4 elected Hereditary). The Baroness Strange of Knokin was the first female hereditary peer who took her seat in 1963.
Powers: It has no powers at all with ‘money bills’. Any 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. The only surviving discretionary power of the House of Lords is to veto an attempt by the Commons to prolong its own life beyond its five-year term.
One of the oldest functions of the House of Lords is judicial, though now this is ancillary (добавочный) to its essential role. Its work as the highest and final Court of Appeal is now done in a fairly small room of the Palace of Westminster, where the court consists of five of the senior judges to whom peerages have been given. The ten Lords of Appeal in Ordinary are also full members for life of the House of Lords as a legislative body, so both the active and retired judicial lords may sit, speak and vote. Public role: In fact the House of Lords has become a vigorous (решительный) and useful element in the political system, particularly in the 1980s, with a Conservative government in office.
It is often said that the House of Lords is at its best in its debates, without vote, on topics of general interest, at least once a week. 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. More importantly, it is the place where proposals for new laws are discussed. 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 сheck 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 (взаимно) hostile men of the Conservative and Labour Parties.
Seating arrangements: The arrangement of the seats in the Lord chamber is similar to that in the Commons. Long, straight blocks of benches face each other with Government supporters on one side and the Opposition parties on the other. The bishops’ bench is on the Government side. But at one end of the chamber, unlike the Commons, there are ‘cross-benches’ for non-party peers. The Lord Chancellor (the Speaker of the House of Lords) or his deputy sits on the Woolsack (a sort of pouffe below the Sovereign’s throne), but does nothing to impose order, and does not even call on people to speak, since the Lords themselves control the proceedings and maintain order. The present-day Speaker is Lord Williams of Mostyn (since July 2001). The House of Lords has also had a female leader – Baroness Young (Conservative) who chaired the House from September 1981 till May 1983.
The Government front bench is occupied by peers who hold office, with the peer concerned with the current business at the Dispatch Box. Most big departments are represented by junior ministers, as their chiefs are in the Commons and cannot be in the Lords chamber except as silent spectators. Five peers hold office as Lords in Waiting and take part as government spokesmen instructed by civil servants. The Government Chief Whip is Captain of the Honourable Corps of Gentlemen-at-Arms, assisted by the Captain of the Queen’s Bodyguard of the Yeomen of the Guard, though both these offices are sometimes held by women. As with so many other things, ancient offices, now archaic, have been adapted to a modern function.
How is the work in the House of Lords organized: The normal Monday to Thursday sittings begin with questions to the Government. 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. 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. 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.
State honours, including peerages, are awarded twice a year, on January 1 and on the Queen’s official birthday in June. More than 100 men are made Knights (for life) each year, and there are about 3,000 Knights now living. They are called Sir – (first name) – surname. Sir Geoffrey Howe, who was Foreign Secretary from 1983 to 1989, may be called ‘Sir Geoffrey’ or plain ‘Howe’, but not ‘Sir Howe’. The female equivalent is ‘Dame’, but Knights outnumber Dames by more than ten to one. These titles bring no special privileges and are not hereditary.
Prime Ministers can give knighthoods (рыцарское звание) (more rarely peerages) to MPs who have served the party long and well. Some people with the title ‘Lord’ are not peers and not members of the House of Lords. In Scotland all judged of the higher courts are Lords (but not peers) and in England and Wales the judges of the Court of Appeal (below the House of Lords) have the judicial title Lord Justice. The sons and daughters of some hereditary peers of the higher ranks have the ‘courtesy’ title Lord or Lady.
30. British Government. The Cabinet. Local Authorities
Unless the government is a coalition – the last of these was formed during the war years 1939-45 – governments today are drawn solely (отдельно) from one political party. But this has not always been so. During the nineteenth century leading politicians were far freer to follow their own convictions or ambitions rather than party discipline.
How is the government formed? Following a general election, the Queen invites the leader of the majority (or largest, in the absence of an overall majority) party represented in the Commons, to form a government on her behalf. The PM chooses a committee of ministers called the Cabinet. This is made up of a selection of senior MPs from the House of Commons, but infrequently members of the House of Lords are appointed. The modern government is arranged in about fifteen departments. Because of the enormous increase in government business, all senior government ministers have junior ministers (Ministers of State or Parliamentary Under-Secretaries) to help with the workload. They are all subject to the rules of collective responsibility and must not disagree publicly with government policy. Altogether there are about fifty ministers of these lower ranks; about forty of them are MPs of the government’s party, chosen by the Prime Minister for promotion from the ‘back-benchers’ of the House of Commons to join the government on the front bench. About ten are members of the House of Lords. The two oldest government departments – The Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Ministry of Defence are located in Whitehall – the street running from Trafalgar Square to the Houses of Parliament. The term ‘Whitehall’ is often used to refer to the government as a whole. The phrase, ‘the opinion in Whitehall…’ refers not only to the opinions of government ministers but also, and perhaps more so, to the opinions of senior civil servants.
What is the Cabinet? Most governments consist of about one hundred ministers, but the essential core (центр) is the Cabinet, the sixteen to twenty-four senior ministers invited by the Prime Minister to belong to it. Each member of the Cabinet is a minister responsible for a government department. Although they are commonly described collectively as ‘ministers’, nearly all the heads of departments have the official title of ‘Secretary of State’. For example, the ‘Foreign Secretary’; the one in charge of law and order inside the country is the ‘Home Secretary’. Their departments are called the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Home Office respectively. The Cabinet meets once a week in Number 10 Downing Street, a rather ordinary-looking house that also contains the Prime Minister’s personal office. He or she lives on the top floor. Number 10 is not really as small as it looks: there are big extensions (удлинение) behind the house. The cabinet office helps deal with the complicated machinery of government. It runs a busy communication network, keeping ministers in touch with each other.
What is a ‘Shadow Cabinet’? The Government is matched, or shadowed, by the Opposition. The Leader of the Opposition is paid a special state salary, and appoints MPs and a few peers of his party to a ‘shadow cabinet’, as well as others as shadow ministers below the equivalent of cabinet rank. The main task of the shadow ministers is to criticize the Government.
What is the Privy Council (тайный совет)? The Cabinet is in fact the politically active section оf a much bigger and older institution, the Privy Council. In the eighteenth century, the Privy Council was a body of a hundred or more people, who officially ran the government and were directly responsible to the monarch (but not to each other). The cabinet started as an informal grouping of important ministers and officials of the royal household and had no formal recognition. Over the years, the cabinet gradually took over effective power. In the twentieth century the cabinet has itself become more and more ‘official’ and publicly recognized. It has also grown in size. It is thought that it is here, and in cabinet committees, that much of the real decision-making takes place. The Privy Council now has about 400 members and is a merely ceremonial organization with no power. It still has some formal function: any meeting consists of the Queen and any three members of the Council. There is no discussion: just signing of prepared documents. When the Queen goes on a foreign tour another member of the royal family is appointed temporarily as her deputy in case an Order-in-Council is needed while she is away.
Prime Minister must give strong leadership, he or she must allow for each minister to exercise responsibility within their field and should encourage collective decision-making on controversial issues, particularly ones beyond the responsibility of one ministry. All ministers except the PM are kept busy looking after their government departments. They don’t have time to think about and discuss government policy as a whole. But the PM does, and cabinet committees usually report directly to him or her, not to the cabinet as a whole. Moreover, the cabinet office is directly under the PM’s control and works in the same building. As a result, the PM knows more about what is going on than the other ministers do. The Prime Minister decides who is to be in each committee, what each one has to do, and what matters are included in the full cabinet’s agenda; he or she also has informal meetings with one or two ministers alone.
Prime Minister’s position is strengthened by television.
The local divisions in Britain: The country is divided in counties, boroughs and parishes. Counties are the oldest divisions of the country in England and Wales. Most of them existed before the Norman Conquest, although a few have been ‘invented’ this century (e.g. Humberside). Some counties represent the centres of local government; others have no function in government but are still used for other purposes. Originally counties were called ‘shires’, and many of them have this word in their names (e.g. Hertfordshire, Hampshire, Leicestershire). From the early Middle Ages, as some villages grew into towns, the Crown gave them ‘charters of incorporation’ as ‘boroughs’ or ‘cities’, with their own mayors and councils. From the late nineteenth century successive changes have been imposed by Parliament. Some old boroughs have been expanded, some, absorbed by others, have ceased to exist as units of administration, and some have survived little change. These days, the name is used for local government purposes only in London, but many towns still proudly describe themselves as Royal Boroughs.
Within the counties the oldest units are the parishes. These are the local communities or villages, which became established in the Middle Ages, each centred on a local church. Until 1888 they had been important units of administration. Today although they elect parish councils, they have almost no powers of their own. The name ‘parish’ is still used in the organization of the main Christian churches in England.
The structure of local government: There are now two types of structure. One, created in 1974 and changes in 1986, applies to Greater London and the six largest urban areas, which are sometimes called conurbations (большой город с пригородами), the other applies to all the rest of England, with most of its area and three-fifths of its population, and to the whole of Wales. Scotland and Northern Ireland have their own systems, which are not quite the same as that of England and Wales, though the differences are only superficial.
London and the conurbations
Greater London, with nearly seven million people, consists of thirty-two ‘London boroughs’ and the City of London. Most of these boroughs have between 150,000 and 300,000 people. The best known of these is the City of Westminster. A Greater London County was created in 1965. The six main city areas in the midlands and north of England have local systems similar to London’s. These areas, around Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Sheffield, Leeds and Newcastle upon Tyne, have between one and three million people each. They became metropolitan counties in 1974, but these new counties lost their councils and all their functions in 1986. Now each county’s area consists of boroughs, one of which is the central city, the others being based on the surrounding satellite towns, each expanded so as to include the areas between (which are now mainly built-up). The borough councils run all the local services except police, public transport and a few others that have joint agencies.
England outside London and conurbations consists of thirty-nine ‘shire’ counties. Each county is divided into ‘districts’ (typically about seven per county). Most towns with more than 80,000 people within these counties have become districts. Some districts are called by the names of their biggest towns, others have newly-invented names chosen by their councils, often after prolonged argument.
In 1974 Wales was reorganized more thoroughly than England. Twelve of the counties with small population were merged into five, all with new Welsh names; the thirteenth, Glamorgan in the industrial south, with half the Welsh population, was divided into three. Some old counties became districts of the new merged counties; other districts were new creations, among them Ogwr, Dwyfor and Glyndwr. In mainland Scotland there are nine regions, divided into fifty-three districts, and three all-purpose authorities for the island groups, Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles. In Northern Ireland much is administered by area boards, but local services are provided by twenty-six district councils.
Functions: The following grid (cхема) shows the organization of local government and names its responsibilities:
Cities and large towns in England and The rest of England and Wales and
Wales all of Scotland
36 Metropolitan Districts 10 Regions (Scotland)
32 London Boroughs 47 Counties (England and Wales)
Responsible for: Responsible for:
* collection of council tax * collection of council tax
* planning * planning
* roads and traffic * roads and safety
* housing * disposal of rubbish
* building regulations * education
* safety in public places * social services
* collection of rubbish * libraries
* disposal of rubbish * police force
* education * fire brigade
* social services _______________
* libraries I
* leisure and recreation Districts
__________________________ Responsible for:
In these areas some services, such as * housing
transport, the police force and the fire * local planning
brigade, are run by special authorities, * collection of rubbish
some of whose members are councillors. * leisure and recreation
* safety in public places
Communities (Scotland and Wales)
How do the central and local government co-operate: All local authorities derive their existence and their powers and functions from Parliament and the central government. Parliament can take powers away or add to them, and even abolish any particular authority.
The head of a local council: Every local council has its presiding officer, chosen by the whole council for one year only. In metropolitan and London boroughs the presiding officer has the title Mayor or Lord Mayor, in other districts, and in counties, the presiding officer is called ‘chairman’. A mayor or lord mayor is surrounded by some colourful ceremonial as the town’s first citizen. In a big city there may be an official residence, a grand car, and (for use a few times a year) an even grander but less comfortable carriage pulled by four horses and accompanied by outriders and buglers. Ordinary mayors have ceremonial duties too, and in these functions the role of the mayoress still survives – either the mayor’s wife or a daughter, sister, niece or friend of a mayor who is a woman or unmarried man.
In districts that are not ‘boroughs’ or ‘cities’, and in counties, the chairman of the council usually has a similar status but less ceremonial. Mayors and chairmen are chosen each year by vote of the whole council, but often there is no need for a vote because the choice has been agreed in advance through private discussion between the parties. How do local councils work? All local councils work through committees. Each council has a committee for each of the main sections of its work; for example the general management of the schools in a county or a metropolitan district is under the control of the education committee of the county or district council. Some of the committees consist only of members of the council (with the parties represented in the same proportion as in the whole council), and some of them have in addition a few co-opted members The local authorities appoint their own staff. At the middle and higher levels of the local government service the local government officers are usually ready to move from one place to another, and it is often necessary to move in order to get promotion. The appointment of the local council’s staff is supposed to have nothing to do with politics. The chairman of a committee has to work closely with the departmental chiefs and senior officers. Individual problems and matters of detail tend to be settled by the officers, though members of the public who are aggrieved can try to get their ward councillors to intervene. Officers’ decisions, like those of civil servants, have to agree with the main policies laid down by their committees. The real influence of the officers, as distinct from the elected councillors, varies greatly from one council or department to another.
How are local councils financed? Local councils are allowed to collect one kind of tax. This is a tax based on property. The property tax used to be called ‘rates’ and was paid only by those who owned property. Its amount varied according to the size and location of the property. All other kinds of taxes are collected by central government. The system of both central and local finance for local government is rather complicated and controversial. Central government normally seeks to supply the extra funds, and to offset the differences in wealth and in service requirements between different areas.
31. Political Parties. Electoral system.
Political parties first appeared in Britain at the end of the 17th century. The Conservative and Liberal Parties are the oldest and until the end of the 19th century they were the only parties elected to the House of Commons. The main British political groupings are the Conservative and Labour Parties and the Party of Liberal Democrats. The Conservative Party is the present ruling party, the Labour Party—the opposition to the Conservative—and the party of Liberal Democrats is called 'conservatively oriented'. The Social Democratic Party was formed in 1981 and made an alliance (союз) with the Liberal Party in 1988.
There are also some other parties: the Scottish National and Welsh Nationalist7 Parties, the Communist Party of Britain and the Communist Party of Great Britain.
Because of the electoral method in use, only two major parties obtain (получают) seats in the House of Commons. People belonging to smaller political parties join one of the larger parties and work from within to make their influence felt. The exception to this are members of the Scottish National(1934) and Welsh Nationalist Parties(1925), who, because their votes are concentrated in specific geographical areas, can manage to win seats although their total support is relatively small.
The Conservative Party
The Conservative Party, often called the Tory Party, is one of those, which can trace its roots back to this early period. Today the Tory Party is that of big business, industry, commerce and landowners. Most of the money needed to run the party comes from large firms and companies. The party represents those who believe in private enterprise as opposed to state-owned undertakings. There is some division within the party itself: the more aristocratic wing and the lower-middle-class group. The Tories are a mixture of the rich and privileged—the monopolists and landowners. The Conservative Party is the most powerful and is often called a party of business directors.
The word 'tory' means an Irish highwayman and was applied to the conservatives by their opponents but later they adopted the name to describe themselves. The Tories opposed the ideas of the French Revolution, Parliamentary Reform and the development of Trade Unionism. They represent colonial policy. In home policy they opposed the tendencies of the Labour Party to nationalize gas, electricity, coal and the railways. Today the Conservative Party can broadly be described as the party of the middle and upper classes.
The Liberal Party
The Conservative Party and the Liberal Party are more than three hundred years old. The Tories called the Liberals 'Whigs'. A 'whig' was a Scottish preacher (проповедник) who could go on for 4 or 5 hours at a time preaching moralising sermons (наставленгия). In the middle of the 19th century the Liberal Party represented the trading and manufacturing classes. Its slogan (лозунг) at that time was 'Civil and Religious Liberty'. William Gladstone headed the first administration (1868—74) and for long periods the Liberals had a Parliamentary majority. During the second half of the 19th century many working people looked at the Liberal Party as an alternative to the Conservatives and their policy.
At the end of the 19th century and in the first two decades of the 20th century with the rise of the Labour Party, the Liberals lost the support of working-class voters. In 1988 the Liberal Party made an alliance with Social Democrats and the Party of Liberal Democrats was formed.
The Labour Party, formed in 1900, was the one which drew away working people's support. It was founded by the Trades Unions, the main aim was to win working class representation in Parliament. When the Labour Government was first elected in 1945 it showed a considerable change in policy from the Tories.
Since 1924 the Labour Party has been in and out of power five times with the Conservatives forming the government for the rest of the time. The social system has remained unchanged. As a result of divisions within the Labour Party its right-wing members broke away in 1981 to form a new organization, the Social Democratic Party. The latter fought the 1983 and 1987 elections in an alliance with the Liberals, but only a small number of their MPs were elected.
The Party of Social and Liberal Democrats formed in 1988 from the Liberal Party and the Social Democrats is a British political party of the centre. It is the third largest party, but it is quite small.
After 1945 further minority parties were born, such as extremely reactionary, anti-immigrant National Front, and the conservationist Ecology Party.
Parliamentary elections must be held every five years, but the Prime Minister can decide on the exact date within those five years. The minimum voting age is 18, and the voting is taken by secret ballot (тайное голосование).
Britain is divided into 651 parliamentary constituencies. Each constituency is a geographical area: the voters who live in the area select one person to serve as a member of the House of Commons. The simple majority system of voting is used in parliamentary elections. This means that the candidate with the largest number of votes in each constituency is elected, although he or she may not necessarily have received more than half the votes cast. Voting is by secret ballot. The following people may vote: all British citizens over the age of 18; citizens of other Commonwealth countries and the Irish Republic who are resident in Britain. British citizens living abroad may vote. Members of the House of Lords, foreigners, mentally ill people in hospitals, prisoners and convicted people may not vote. The election campaign lasts about three weeks. The election is divided on a simple majority – the candidate with most votes wins. An MP who wins by a small number of votes may have more votes against him than for him. Many people think that it is unfair because the wishes of those who voted for the unsuccessful candidates are not represented at all. The British parliamentary system depends on political parties. The political parties choose candidates in elections. The party which wins the majority of seats forms the Government and its leader usually becomes Prime Minister. The Prime Minister chooses about 20 MPs from his or her party to become the Cabinet of Ministers. Each minister is responsible for a particular area of the government. The second largest party becomes the official opposition with its own leader and 'Shadow cabinet'. Leader of the Opposition is a recognized post in the House of Commons. The official title of the Opposition is Her or His Majesty's Loyal Opposition.
32. British economy. Chief industries. Trade Unions.
The British economy is primarily based on private enterprise. However, some industries were nationalized after World War II. This was typical nationalization carried out on capitalist lines.
The national economy of Great Britain is vitally dependent on foreign trade. Moreover, this dependence is growing in recent years. About a third of the industrial products of the country is exported. With the loss of the colonies the economy has become extremely vulnerable (уязвимый) to balance-of-payments problems.
The typical pattern of Britain's overseas trade has been a trade deficit (when imports of products exceed in value the exports of the country). This has a negative influence on the development of the country and especially on its finances. However, the trade deficit is often offset by a surplus on so-called invisible trade due to the earnings of the country from international travel, shipping, tourism and financial services.
Agriculture supplies nearly two-thirds of the country's food and employs about 2.5 per cent of Britain's employed labour force. More than two-thirds of the arable land and pastures belong to the landlords. These holders rent the land and employ agricultural workers. Technological progress in agriculture has enhanced class differentiation in agriculture as a result of which more than half of the holders of small-scale farming units were ruined in the last two-three decades.
The structure of the economy has experienced serious changes which are quite common for all developed capitalist countries: there has been a decline in the relative importance of manufacturing and a rise in that of services.
Since the middle 19th century, when the rapid growth of industry, commerce and shipping was accompanied by Britain’s development as an international trading centre, overseas trade has been of vital importance to the economy.
As in other developed countries, manufacturing plays a vital role in the economy, as well as energy production.
The first public supply of electricity was in 1881. In 1948 all municipal and private undertakings in Great Britain were acquired under the Electricity Act 1947 and vested in the British Electricity Authority. The conventional steam power stations are numerously located in Midland England and in the South-East. The major hydro-electric power stations are operating in Scotland because of the available water resources.
Manufacturing plays a vital role in the British economy. It accounts for some 24 per cent of the GDP, 24 per cent of the employed labour force is engaged in manufacturing, 75 per cent of the visible exports of the state consists of manufactured or semi-manufactured goods. Most manufacturing is in the hands of private enterprise. The greater parts of the iron and steel and shipbuilding industries are nationalized. These industries are in serious decline not only due to the fall of demand both at home and abroad, but also due to the hostile attitude of the Conservative government. In general the British industry, manufacturing included, is facing serious difficulties. Tough foreign competition on the world markets adds up to these difficulties.
Metals include iron, steel, non-ferrous industry (цветные металлы). The main steel producing areas are Yorkshire and Humberside, Wales (26%), The Northern region (16%), Scotland(11%) and the West Midlands (5%).
The mechanical engineering industry
Electronics is one of the most important sectors of British industry, which is developing fast and wide. The Thames valley is a leading area with a major concentration of high technology industries called the ‘Sunrise Strip’. Another area is situated near Cambridge.
The motor vehicle is the largest single manufacturing industry in Britain and, in spite of its recent decline, is still a major exporting industry. Britain is a major producer and exporter of agricultural tractors, especially of wheeled tractors. Birmingham and Coventry are major centres of the tractor industry.
aerospace industry is one of he largest and comprehensive in Western Europe. The products of the industry include civil and military aircraft, helicopters, aero-engines, guided weapons, hovercraft and space vehicles.
the chemical industry
The manufacturing of of all kinds of chemicals is developing intensively and accounts for about 16 %of the British manufacturing exports, placing the country among the major chemical exporting nations of the world. The largest concentration of the heavy chemical industry is in the south of Lancashire, Teesmouth and the West Midlands.
The textile industry (in cotton and wool manufacture mainly). The main places are: Lancashire and Yorkshire, Manchester
Leather and footwear industry.
The British leather and footwear industries are among the most important industries and Great Britain is the world’s largest exporter of both leather and leather footwear. Its factories re scattered throughout the country, the main regions and centres being Midland England, London, Bristol.
The food, drink and tobacco industries are developed all throughout the country.
The pottery (гончарный) industry is centred in the Potteries in Shaffordshireand it supplies almost all home needs for domestic and industrial pottery.
Paper and board manufacture
The trade unions were formed during the period of the growth and rise of capitalism. They had as their main task the raising of the material and cultural level of the proletariat and the extension of their political rights. The craftsmen were the first to form permanent unions. Miners and cotton textile workers also achieved viable(жизнеспособный) organization. This extension was carried further during the two World Wars. After WWII unionism grew rapidly among white-collar workers. And now there are more than 460 unions of different importance, twenty of the unions have more than 100,000 members each, but others are not very big. Most unions are affiliated to the Labour Party and hand over a small part of their membership subscriptions. The activities of trade unions vary:
provision of benefits(выгоды)to member(to insure members against unemployment, ill health, old age).
collective bargaining (ведение переговоров)(TU are able to negotiate with employers over wages and working conditions)
Industrial action(they may organize strikes or residents to lockouts)
political activity(may promote legislation favorable to the interests of their members).
But today TUs play not a progressive but a reactionary role, that’s why they need to be replaced by some sort of fresh organizations.
The majority of TUs are the members of TUC(congress), which was first assembled in 1868. They campaign for a fair deal at work and for social justice at home and abroad. They negotiate in Europe and at home build links with political parties, business, local communities and wider society.
33. Agriculture in contemporary Britain. British trade. Britain and Europe.
Agriculture, one of Britain's most important industries, supplies nearly two-thirds of the country's food, directly employs about 2.5 per cent of the working population. However, its share of the gross domestic product is less than 3 per cent — the lowest figure among the developed capitalist countries. British agriculture is efficient, for it is based on modern technology and research.
Nearly 80 per cent of the land area is used for agriculture, the rest being mountain and forest or put to urban and other uses. There are 12 million hectares under crops and grass. In hill country, where the area of cultivated land is often small, large areas are used for rough grazing. Soils vary from the poor ones of highland Britain to the rich fertile soils of low-lying areas in the eastern and southeastern parts of England. The cool temperate climate and the comparatively even distribution of rainfall contribute favourably to the development of agriculture. Most of the land is owned by big landlords. Farmers rent the land and hire agricultural workers to cultivate it. Part of the land belongs to banks, insurance companies.
There are about 254,000 farming units, of which about a half are able to provide fulltime employment for at least one person and account for over 90 per cent of total output.
Britain produces nearly two-thirds of its total food requirements compared with some 46 per cent in 1960. Britain is self-sufficient in milk, eggs, to a very great extent in meat, potatoes, wheat. However, she needs to import butter, cheese, sugar and some other agricultural products.
60 per cent of full-time farms is devoted mainly to dairying or beef cattle and sheep. This sector of agriculture accounts for three-fourths of agricultural production in value. Sheep and cattle are reared in the hill and moorland areas of Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and northern and south-western England.
There are three main types of farming: pastoral, arable, mixed. Arable (пахотный) farming takes the lead in the eastern parts of England and Scotland, whereas in the rest of the country pastoral (пастушеский) and mixed farming are prevalent.
As regards the cereals wheat takes the lead. It is cultivated on over 40 per cent of the total cropland with an average annual yield of 12 million tonnes. The crop is mainly concentrated in the eastern parts of the country. Barley follows next covering about 40 per cent of the total cropland with an average annual yield of 92 million tonnes. Barley prevails (преобладает) in the eastern parts of England, especially in East Anglia and in the south-east, as well as in Central Scotland. The potato crop is widespread all throughout the country. Sugar from home-grown sugar beet provides about 55 per cent of the requirements, most of the remainder being refined from raw sugar imported from developing countries. Sugar beet covers about 4 per cent of the total cropland.
Forestry. Woodland covers an estimated 2.2 million hectares, about 9 per cent of the total land area of the country, 43 per cent is in England, 43 per cent in Scotalnd, 11 per cent in Wales and the remainder in Northern Ireland. The Forestry Commission is the national forestry authority in Great Britain and is responsible for timber(древесина) production and forestry policy which includes wildlife conservation, the landscaping of plantations, and the provision of facilities for recreation.
But the national economy is vitally dependent on foreign trade. Moreover, this dependence is growing in recent years. About a third of the industrial productsof the country is exported. With the loss of the colonies the economy has had a lot of problems. The typical pattern of Britain’s overseas trade has been a trade deficit(when imports of products exceed in value the exports of the country). However the trade deficit is often offset by a surplus of on so-called invisible trade (earnings of the country from international travel, shipping, tourism, financial services). Invisible trade accounts for 1\3 of overseas earnings.
Britain made attempts to join EEC in 1963 and 1967. This ended in failure mainly due to the opposition of President Charles de Caulle of France. In the 1960-s the UK faced gradually increasing economic problems, mainly on international payments and the pound sterling. The growth rate of Br. Economy was the lowest in western Europe. So they were the main reasons for joining EEC.
Finally Britain joined EEC or Common market in 1973. And today the EEC represents 49% of Brish export and 53% of her import. The Federal Republic of Germany, the US, Japan, France, the Irish Republic and other developed countries are leading trading partners of Britain.
Foods represent about 10% of the total import bill. In the nation’s substantial food bill, the leading import items are fruit, vegetables, meat, beverages (tea, coffee, cocoa) and cereals(wheat). Crude oil is also important. But, as British workpeople are mainly engaged in manufacture, a lot of manufacture goods are exported and Britain has no raw materials, these raw materials, which can not be produce in the country, are purchased abroad.
The export abroad continues to be a major factor in its development. Britain export manufactured goods, including machinery and transport equipment, but chemicals and petroleum products are also important. So Britain is a major supplier of machinery, vehicles, aerospace products, metal manufactories, electoral equipment, chemicals and textiles.
34. The Legal System. The legal profession
The Legal system
The law is one of the most traditional areas of national life in Britain. Its main virtue is its independence from the system of government and a safeguard of civil liberties. Its main vice (недостаток) is said to lie in its resistance to reform and any interference from outside, and its maintenance of its own privileges.
There is a single system of law and courts in England and Wales, while Scotland and Northern Ireland have their separate systems.
There is no civil code and no criminal code in Britain. The law as a whole is founded upon two basic elements:
1. Acts of Parliament or statute law,
2. Common law which is made up of past decisions of judges. Common law, or case law systems, particularly that of England and Wales, differ from Continental law in having developed gradually throughout history, not as a result of government attempts to define or codify every legal relation. Customs and court rulings have been as important as government legislation - statutes. Judges do not merely apply (применяют) the law, in some cases they make law.
Before William of Normand England in 1066, there had existed no class of professional lawyers.
Starting with William the Conqueror, the Norman kings sent traveling judges around the country and gradually a ‘common law’ developed.
From the reign of Henry II onwards (передовые) royal judges began to hold local sessions Kings for a long time were responsible for law and order. The real change came in 1166 with the Assize of Clarendon, reinforced in 1176 by the Assize of Northampton. These assizes introduced regular measures for the trial by royal judges of people suspected of serious crimes.
And today the most important feature of the common law is tradition. In 1873, the two systems were unified, and nowadays a lawyer can pursue common law and equitable claims the same court.
Civil and public law
One important distinction is made between civil and public law. Civil law concerns disputes among citizens within the country, and public law concerns disputes between citizens and the state, or between one state and another.
The main categories of English civil law are:
1. Contracts: binding agreements between people or companies;
2. Torts: wrongs committed by one individual against another individual’s
person, property or reputation;
3. Trusts: arrangements whereby a person administers property for another
person’s benefit as long as the latter is not old enough to use it;
4. Probate: arrangements for dealing with property after the owner’s death;
5. Family Law.
The main categories of public law are:
1. Crimes: wrongs which, even when committed against an individual, are
considered to harm the well-being of society in general;
2. Constitutional Law: regulation of how the law itself operates and of the relation between
private citizen and government;
3. International Law: regulation of relations between governments and also between
private citizens of one country and those of another.
The legal profession
There is no ministry of justice in Britain. The things are shared between a number of authorities: 1. the Home Office, which administers prisons and supervises (наблюдает) the police,
2. the office of the Lord Chancellor, which oversees (наблюдает) the appointment of judges,
3. magistrates and other legal officers.
There is no Minister of Justice, though the Lord Chancellor, who is effectively the head of the legal profession, is always a member of the Cabinet.
The Lord Chancellor combines three distinct functions.
1. head of the legal hierarchy (selects judges, Queen’s Counsels and magistrates and may preside over the Law Lords if he so wishes).
2. He is Speaker of the Lords (responsible for discipline in the House).
3. He is a member of the Cabinet and the government’s chief legal adviser.
In theory, the authority of the legislature and executive in Britain are not separated. However, it is a firmly understood tradition, that while judges may not declare an Act of Parliament void, their independence from government is a fundamental duty.
Traditionally the legal profession has been divided into two distinct practices, each with rights:
1. solicitors (адвокаты, дающий советы клиенту, подготавливающий дела для барристера и выступающий только в судах низшей инстанции) could until recently deal directly with the public,
2. barristers (professional advocates) could fight a case in the higher courts (Crown Courts and the High Court).
In general, it can be said that a barrister spends most of his time either in a courtroom or preparing his arguments for the court; and a solicitor spends most of his time in an office giving advice to clients, making investigations and preparing documents. Many people believe that the distinction between barristers and solicitors should be eliminated(ликвидировано).
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