Amazing Kids! Magazine

A Look at the British Government

By Cathy

 

For those living in North and South America, Britain may be nothing more than the country that makes Doctor Who and drinks tea. However, it’s important to remember that Britain is a wealthy and powerful nation with a government not unlike Canada’s or the United States’.

At the top of the food chain is the monarch, currently Queen Elizabeth II, and the prime minister. The country of Britain has a democracy, which means they vote in their government officials. However, the crown is passed on in the family, and is given as a birthright.

Her Majesty’s Government, ruled by the queen and known generally as the British government, has executive powers. This means they can dismiss and appoint prime ministers as well as declare war. The armed forces of Britain are under their command, but they cannot write or pass laws. The prime minister is the head of the Cabinet, and rules under the monarch. He or she may also wield executive powers, but to a lesser extent. The prime minister is in charge of selecting Cabinet members as well.

The legislature power, or the ability to make laws, lies in the U.K. Parliament, which is comprised of the House of Commons and the House of Lords. The members of the House of Commons are voted in by general elections. In modern times, the prime minister and the other Cabinet members are always chosen from the House of Commons.

The House of Lords was primarily hereditary, the position passed on through the family. However, it is currently going through extensive reforms. There are two types of members in the House of Lords: the Lords Temporal and the Lords Spiritual. The Lords Temporal is comprised of both members with no hereditary claim and members who have had family serve in the house before. The Lords Spiritual is made up of five ancient sees from the Church of England and twenty one senior bishops. The members of the House of Lords can veto bills proposed by the House of Commons in some cases.

This is a very basic overview of the British government, and is by no means detailed or comprehensive. However, it should do enough to give you the idea that the British nation is a very important and complex nation filled with not just fish and chips, but perplexing politics as well. If you’re interested in learning more about the government and laws of any country out there, don’t hesitate to check out a book from your library or visit Google. Contrary to popular belief, North America is not the centre of the universe.