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UK, Parliament and Government - Text in Brief

Published: 01.02.2011, Updated: 04.03.2017
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Pre-reading: Where is the UK Parliament located?

UK - Parliament and Government

UK Parliament.photo.The State Opening of Parliament marks the beginning of the new session in the Parliament. Its main purpose is for the monarch formally to open Parliament and in the Queen's Speech give an outline of the Government's proposed policies for the coming session. The United Kingdom is a parliamentary democracy. The Parliament of the United Kingdom is in London. It has two chambers, the House of Lords and the House of Commons. The House of Commons has members which are elected from all the countries in the UK. The Scots and Welsh voted for devolution in a referendum in 1997. The system came into effect in 1999 and since then, the Scottish and Welsh Parliaments have had more control over their domestic affairs. The Scottish Government has responsibility for issues such as, health, education, justice, transport and rural affairs, but the Welsh Assembly Government has fewer powers.

Difficult words
  • Chamber = kammer
  • Elected = valgt/valt
  • Voted = stemt
  • Devolution = overføring av makt fra en  sentral makt/overføring av makt frå ei    sentral makt
  • Referendum = folkeavstemmning/folkerøysting
  • Domestic = innenriks/innanriks
  • Rural = lokal
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Comprehension
  • What is a parliamentary democracy?(search the Internet for a definition)
  • Does Norway have this type of government?
  • What are the parts of the UK Parliament?
  • What happened in 1997?
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The UK System in Brief

The Monarch (Queen or King)

Head of State, Head of the Commonwealth, Appoints the Prime Minister, Head of the Armed Forces.
Little real power and acts only on the advice of her ministers.

The Prime Minister

Leader of the government party
Appoints ministers (about 100) and forms the Cabinet

The Cabinet

The most important ministers in the government (about 20 members)

The House of Lords

Has 753 members (January 2011) - hereditary peers and life peers, 2 archbishops and 24 bishops
Can only revise and delay bills.

House of Commons

650 Members of Parliament (MPs) (from 2010). Each represents one of the constituencies (district), into which the country is divided. Each belongs to a political party. Some are members of the government party and some are from the opposition parties.Elected by the people. The UK Members of Parliament are elected by first-past-the-post system

Difficult words
  • Hereditary = nedarvet/nedarva
  • Peer = adelsmann
  • Delay =forsinke/forseinke
  • Bills = lovforslag
  • Constituency = valgkrets/valkrins
  • Opposition parties = opposisjonspartier/oppsosijonsparti
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Comprehension

Copy the sentences into your text editor and then put the names below into the correct sentence.

The Prime Minister, The House of Commons, The House of Lords, The Monarch, The Cabinet, A Member of Parliament

………….. is the head of the government party.

. ………… is made up of the most important ministers in the government.

…………. can only change and slow down bills.

…………. has members who are elected by the people.

…………. appoints the Prime Minister.

…………. represents one constituency.

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How Does the System Work?

The Cabinet is like the leaders of the Government and the Government is like the management of the country. It decides how the country will be run. It makes the important decisions, for example about foreign policy, education, or health, but these decisions have to be approved by Parliament. If Parliament thinks that a particular Government policy is against the public interest, it can force the Government to change its mind. The Government would then have to change its policy. The power of the Government depends on support from the House of Commons, which, in turn, depends on the support of the voters.

  • Elections must be held at least every 5 years.
  • Two main political parties; Conservative and Labour.
  • Liberal Democrats are a third smaller party.
  • The party with the majority of votes in the election forms the Government.
  • The second largest party forms the Opposition.
  • Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all have national political parties, the Scottish National Party (SNP), Plaid Cymru and Sinn Fein. These parties would like their countries to become independent.
Difficut words
  • Management = styre
  • Decision = avgjørelse/avgjerd
  • Policy = politikk
  • Public interest = samfunnsinteresse
  • Depends on = er avhengig av
  • Election = valg/val
  • Independent = uavhengig/sjølvstendig
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Comprehension

Make questions for these answers.

  1. Makes important decisions about how to run the country.
  2. Can make the Government change its mind.
  3. At least every 5 years.
  4. The Conservative Party and the Labour Party.
  5. It is formed by the second largest party.
  6. The SNP.
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Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland

Members of the Scottish and Welsh Parliaments are made up of a representative for each constituency and representatives from each of the regions used in the European Parliament elections. First the constituency Members are elected by the first-past-the-post system and then the regional Members are elected by a proportional representation system.

Devolution of powers to the Northern Ireland Assembly also occurred in 1999 and the Assembly has legislative authority for matters which have been transferred from the UK government.

The UK government has responsibility for all matters of foreign policy.

Scotland is now planning a referendum in 2014 to vote on whether Scotland should become an independent country.

 

Difficult words
  • legislative=lovgivende/lovgivande
  • foreign policy=utenrikspolitikk/utanrikspolitikk
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Some Oddities in British Politics

The Whip The Whip is the person who has to “whip” together or count the MPs when they are going to vote on a new bill.
The Shadow Ministry This is the group of ministers which the Opposition sets up to monitor the government's ministers.
The British Constitution Norway has a written Constitution which states the laws of the country. Britain has no written Constitution, but uses tradition or, if necessary, makes a new law when a problem comes up.

Difficult Words
  • whip = piske
  • monitor = overvåke/ha oppsyn med/overvake
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Tasks and Activities

Quizzes

  1. UK Government Quiz 
  2. CBBC Newsround Quiz 
  3. This quiz is about strange procedures in the UK Parliament.BBC Parliament Quiz 

Find Out

Use the table on the right in this link called The New UK Government 2010,  to find information about the government in the UK. Find out:

  • the name of the present Prime Minister in the UK and which party he represents
  • the name of the previous Prime MInister in the UK and which party he represented
  • which party got most seats in the election
  • how many seats did they get?
  • From 2010, the government in the UK is a coalition government between the Conservative party and the Liberal Democrats. What does this mean?

Discussion

In Pairs: Take a virtual tour

At Online tours - UK Parliament , both students, individually, take a virtual tour of the House of Commons. Each make 10 questions about what you see. Give them to your partner, who should try to find the answers. Finally, discuss what you have seen and learned. Give your opinion on the layout of the Chamber, the furnishings and parliamentary traditions.

 

 

Tasks

Practical material for

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