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Answered 2015-07-15 18:26:17

The Queen is the constitutional Head of State and carries out ceremonial duties. She has few powers, and those she has she uses sparingly and only on the advice of the prime minster. She does what the government of the day requires her to do. The Queen is non-political and it is important that she and her immediate family remain that way.

The Government is formed by the party who win the majority of the 646 seats in the House of Commons (Parliament). If no one party wins a majority a coalition ot working agreement can be formed with another party to achieve a majority for most purposes.

The Prime Minister is chosen by the majority party and is the leader of that party in the House of Commons. The Prime Minister then appoints his Ministers and junior Ministers from his elected colleagues. Secretaries of State (and other senior Ministers) form the Cabinet, the inner group which forms the executive of the country. All elected members of Parliament sit in the House of Commons and take part in debates on legislation put to the house. Proposed bills are presented to the House (technically, any member can do this, but usually the only bills likely to get a reading are Government bills). This is called the first reading and the bill is debated. The house then votes on whether to send the bill to Committee stage (for greater scrutiny) or reject it (send it back to the author to re-think). After Committee stage the bill is presented for its second reading, further debated and the final draft submitted to the Upper House (the House of Lords) who also debate it. If they approve the bill it is passed into law. It may look like a long drawn out, and unwieldy process, but it does actually produce good law.

The Judiciary in Great Britain is entirely non-political. Judges are drawn from the upper echelons of the legal profession.

Law in Great Britain can be made two ways; either by legislation or by judicial ruling. I hope that helps you.

I understand that the Judiciary is an independent body and that the lower and upper house in Parliament is the Legislative Body. But my question was this. If the Queen is not elected to the office of executive and the Prime Minister is not elected to the office of executive, then perhaps there is no such office in British Govt, although you seem to think that the Cabinet take that office upon themselves they do not campaign and run for the Cabinet (Executive) as such, as the U.S.Presidential candidate runs for that particular office, in an election, so perhaps your assumption is not correct and the Cabinet is not the Exec. Perhaps the British Govt. only have two levels of govt, and why not? ,why would a third be needed if the legislature runs the country ? After all the U.S. president is not elected directly by the people, but by the College of Cardinals known as the Electoral College. This is because, the view seems to be, that the people cannot be trusted to make a sound judgment.

NOTEIn Britain the actual head of the Executive is the Prime Minister. The office certainly exists, otherwise there would be chaos. He or she must be able to form an administration and **must have a majority in the House of Commons sufficient to get (most) legislation passed**. In effect, the Prime Minster is elected. At the time of a general election, the leaders of the various parties are known and it is something electors take into account when voting. The entire government forms the Executive (of about 100 members plus), and the Cabinet (with about 20-25 of these) is an inner clique.

If a Prime Minister resigns, dies or is ousted while in office, his party then chooses a new leader. In such a case, the majority party elects a new leader (unless the outgoing Prime Minister has been thrown out on a vote of no confidence - which is extremely rare. It has only happened twice in the last 130 years). Obviously, a Prime Minister who is elected mid-term by the majority party hasn't been popularly elected. However, the assumption is that the party will have the sense to elect someone likely to win the next general election.

There is a feature of the American system that is not acceptable in the British 'constitution', namely this: in Britain it is regarded as intolerable to have a Prime Minister who cannot get most legislation through Parliament. So the situation that can arise in the U.S of a President at loggerheads with either or both House of Congress is unacceptable in Britain.

The implications of this are very far-reaching. It means that in Britain there are almost NO 'checks and balances' on the power of the Prime Minister, provided he or she retains a majoirty in Parliament.

It is sometimes said that Britain is an 'elective dictatorship', the 'elected dictator' being the Prime Minister of the day. Bear in mind that far-reaching changes in legislation of a kind that would count as a constitutional change in most countries can be passed by a simple majority in Britain.

Having said that, some laws are regarded as more fundamental than others, and in last few years there has been increasing use of judicial review.

Also. all the more senior judges are full-time, as in other countries.

The U.S. president is not elected by the people, (popular vote), but by the College of Cardinals known as the Electoral College. This is because, the view seems to be, that the people cannot be trusted to make a sound judgment"

The Electoral College system is set up to keep a few states from having a monopoly on the selection of President. By giving each state one elector for each Congressman, they are represented in proportion to their population by the number of Representatives but tilted a little to the less populated states since each state has two Senators. If the President were elected strictly on the popular vote, he could be selected by New York, California, and a few large cities between. Voters in Montana and Nebraska wouldn't even be noticed. What I see wrong with this system is the fact that each state decides how to select (elect or appoint), and commit (proportional to popular vote, all for the candidate selected by the majority, or not committed to either candidate).

Yes, Britain does have separate Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches of government. The fact that the monarch as head of the Executive is not elected does not alter the fact of the 3 branches existing.

Part of the legislative branch is not elected either, the House of Lords, notwithstanding the Blair reforms.

The Prime Minister does not become second in command of the Executive until invited by the Monarch to form a government. Being the leader of the largest party does not confer that role, as such a person may not command an overall majority in the Commons. It is possible, but contrary to convention, that even a person commanding an overall majority would not be invited to form a goverment.

It is possible, although most unsatisfactory, to govern Britain without making new laws, so without control of the Commons. This would be a short-lived government, as the Commons has control of the taxation revenue, and only it can grant "supply", that is, the funds to govern.

The monarch retains the "reserve power" to fire the Prime Minister. Australia has the same form of government, and there the monarch's functions are carried out by the Governor-General. In 1975, Governor-General Sir John Kerr dismissed sitting Prime Minister Gough Whitlam, so the monarch's functions are not merely ceremonial.

To become law, legislation must pass through the House of Commons and the House of Lords and then be approved by the monarch. It is highly unlikely, but not impossible, that some monarch might refuse to sign a proposed law (called at this stage a Bill) in which case it would not become an Act, and therefore law.

Therefore the monarch has roles in both the Executive and Legislative branches. So do all ministers.

As in the USA, a law must pass both upper and lower houses. In the US the Senate can block legislation. In the UK, since 1911, the Lords cannot. If a Bill passes the Commons 3 times it becomes law even if rejested by the Lords.

If we consider the judiciary we find the familiar lack of separation. The Attorney-General is the head of the legal profession and appoints the judges, although not being one. The Attorney-General is usually a MP and often a Minister. The safeguard is that once judges are appointed they cannot be dismissed, nor their salaries or conditions reduced.

Nearly all members of the government are also members of one of the two houses of Parliament.

In short, the British arrangements lack the very clear division of powers that characterizes the U.S. Constitution (and some others). There is a certain fuzziness.


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