Royal prerogative in the United Kingdom
The royal prerogative is a body of customary authority and immunity attached to the British Monarch, recognised in the United Kingdom. The monarch is regarded internally as the absolute authority, or "sole prerogative", prerogative the source of many of the executive powers of the British government. Prerogative powers were exercised by the monarch acting on his or her own initiative. Since the 19th century, by convention, the advice of the prime minister or the cabinet—who are accountable to Parliament for the decision—has been required in order for the prerogative to be exercised; the monarch remains constitutionally empowered to exercise the royal prerogative against the advice of the prime minister or the cabinet, but in practice would only do so in emergencies or where existing precedent does not adequately apply to the circumstances in question. Today the royal prerogative is available in the conduct of the government of the United Kingdom, including foreign affairs and national security.
The monarchy has a significant constitutional presence in these and other matters, but limited power, because the exercise of the prerogative is in the hands of the prime minister and other ministers or other government officials. The royal prerogative has been called "a notoriously difficult concept to define adequately", but whether a particular type of prerogative power exists is a matter of common law to be decided by the courts as the final arbiter. A prominent constitutional theorist, A. V. Dicey, proposed in the nineteenth century that: The prerogative appears to be and as a matter of fact nothing else than the residue of discretionary or arbitrary authority which at any given time is left in the hands of the crown; the prerogative is the name of the remaining portion of the Crown's original authority... Every act which the executive government can lawfully do without the authority of an Act of Parliament is done in virtue of the prerogative. While many commentators follow the Diceyan view, there are constitutional lawyers who prefer the definition given by William Blackstone in the 1760s:By the word prerogative we understand that special pre-eminence which the King hath and above all other persons, out of the ordinary course of common law, in right of his regal dignity... it can only be applied to those rights and capacities which the King enjoys alone, in contradiction to others, not to those which he enjoys in common with any of his subjects.
Dicey's opinion that any action of governance by the monarch beyond statute is under the prerogative diverges from Blackstone's that the prerogative covers those actions that no other person or body in the United Kingdom can undertake, such as declaration of war. Case law exists to support both views. Blackstone's notion of the prerogative being the powers of an exclusive nature was favoured by Lord Parmoor in the De Keyser's Royal Hotel case of 1920, but some difficulty with it was expressed by Lord Reid in the Burmah Oil case of 1965. A clear distinction has not been necessary in the relevant cases, the courts may never need to settle the question as few cases deal directly with the prerogative itself; the royal prerogative originated as the personal power of the monarch. From the 13th century in England, as in France, the monarch was all-powerful, but this absolute power was checked by "the recrudescence of feudal turbulence in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries". An early attempt to define the royal prerogative was stated by Richard II's judges in 1387.
During the 16th century, this "turbulence" began to recede, the monarch became independent. Under Henry VIII and his successors, the king was the head of the Protestant English church, therefore not answerable to the clergy; the rise of Parliament in this period, was problematic. While the monarch was "the predominant partner in the English constitution", the courts stopped short of declaring him all-powerful, recognising the role that Parliament played. In Ferrer's Case, Henry recognised this, noting that he was far more powerful with the consent of Parliament than without. Nowhere was this more apparent than in the matter of taxation: Sir Thomas Smith and other writers of the period pointed out the monarch could not impose taxation without Parliament's consent. At the same time and his descendants followed the will of the courts, despite the fact they were theoretically not bound by judges. William Holdsworth infers that by asking the legal officers of the crown and judiciary for legal advice and consent, Henry recognised the need for a stable government to follow the law.
He contends that the view that the law is supreme over all "was the view of all the leading lawyers and statesmen and publicists of the Tudor period". It was accepted that while the King had "unfettered discretion", he was limited in areas where the courts had imposed conditions on the use of the prerogative, or where he had chosen to do so; the first dent in this stability came about in 1607, with the Case of Prohibitions. James VI and I claimed that as monarch, he had a divine right to sit as a judge and interpret the common law as he saw fit. Led by Sir Edward Coke, the judiciary rejected this idea, stating that while the monarch was not subject to any individual, he was subject to the law; until he had gained sufficient knowledge of the law, he had no right to interpret it. In the Case of Proclamations in 1611, Coke held that the monarch could only exercise those prerogatives he had, not create new ones. With the Glorious Revolution, King James VII and II w
President of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom
The President of the Supreme Court is the president of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom. The office is equivalent to the now-defunct position of Senior Lord of Appeal in Ordinary known as the Senior Law Lord, the highest ranking among the Lords of Appeal in Ordinary; the current President is Lady Hale, since 2 October 2017. From 1900 to 1969, when the Lord Chancellor was not present, a former Lord Chancellor would preside at judicial sittings of the House of Lords. If no former Lord Chancellor was present, the most senior Lord of Appeal in Ordinary present would preside, seniority being determined by rank in the peerage. In the years following World War II, it became less common for Lord Chancellors to have time to gain judicial experience in office, making it anomalous for former holders of the office to take precedence; as a result, on 22 May 1969, the rules were changed such that if the Lord Chancellor was not present, the most senior Law Lord, by appointment as a Lord of Appeal in Ordinary rather than peerage, would preside.
In 1984, the system was amended to provide that judges be appointed as Senior and Second Senior Lords of Appeal in Ordinary, rather than taking the roles by seniority. The purpose of the change was to allow an ailing Lord Diplock to step aside from presiding, yet remain a Law Lord. On 1 October 2009, the judicial functions of the House of Lords were transferred to the new Supreme Court under the provisions of the Constitutional Reform Act 2005; the Senior Law Lord, Lord Phillips, the Second Senior Law Lord became the President and the Deputy President of the new court. The same day, the Queen by warrant established a place for the President of the Supreme Court in the order of precedence after the Lord Speaker. Lord Reid Lord Wilberforce Lord Diplock Lord Fraser Lord Scarman Lord Keith of Kinkel Lord Goff Lord Browne-Wilkinson Lord Bingham Lord Phillips Deputy President of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom Justice of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom Senior President of Tribunals Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales Lord President of the Court of Session
Prime Minister's Questions
Prime Minister's Questions is a constitutional convention in the United Kingdom held as a single session every Wednesday at noon when the House of Commons is sitting, during which the Prime Minister spends around half an hour answering questions from Members of Parliament. Although prime ministers have answered questions in parliament for centuries, until the 1880s questions to the prime minister were treated the same as questions to other Ministers of the Crown: asked without notice, on days when ministers were available in whatever order MPs rose to ask them. In 1881 fixed time-limits for questions were introduced and questions to the prime minister were moved to the last slot of the day as a courtesy to the 72-year-old prime minister at the time, William Gladstone, so he could come to the Commons in the day. In 1953, when Winston Churchill was prime minister, it was agreed that questions would be submitted on fixed days. A Procedure Committee report in 1959 recommended that questions to the prime minister be taken in two fixed-period, 15-minute slots on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons.
The recommendations were put into practice under Harold Macmillan during a successful experiment from 18 July 1961 to the end of the session. The first question was delivered by Labour MP Fenner Brockway, asking to which Minister the UK Ambassador to South Africa would be responsible. In response to the Prime Minister's answer, Brockway said "May I express our appreciation of this new arrangement for answering Questions and the hope that it will be convenient for the Prime Minister as well as useful to the House?" PMQs were made permanent in the following parliamentary session, with the first of these on 24 October 1961. The style and culture of PMQs has changed over time. According to Speaker Selwyn Lloyd, the now famous disorderly behaviour of MPs during PMQs first arose as a result of the personal animosity between Harold Wilson and Edward Heath. In the past, prime ministers opted to transfer questions to the relevant minister, Leaders of the Opposition did not always take their allocated number of questions in some sessions, sometimes opting not to ask any questions at all.
This changed during the premiership of Margaret Thatcher, when the prime minister chose not to transfer any questions to other members of her Cabinet, Labour leader Neil Kinnock began asking more questions than his predecessors. His successor, John Smith, established the precedent of always taking his full allocation of questions. One of Tony Blair's first acts as prime minister was to replace the two 15-minute sessions with a single 30-minute session on Wednesdays at 3 p.m. but since 2003 at noon. The allocated number of questions in each session for the Leader of the Opposition was doubled from three to six, the leader of the third-largest party in the Commons was given two questions; the first PMQs to use this new format took place on 21 May 1997. During the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government from 2010–2015, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, as a member of the government, did not ask questions during PMQs. Instead the leader of the second largest parliamentary opposition party at the time, Nigel Dodds of the Democratic Unionist Party asked a single question in the session followed by at least one MP from another smaller party such as the Scottish National Party or Plaid Cymru.
Backbench MPs wishing to ask a question must enter their names on the Order Paper. The names of entrants are shuffled in a ballot to produce a random order in which they will be called by the Speaker; the Speaker will call on MPs to put their questions in an alternating fashion: one MP from the government benches is followed by one from the opposition benches. MPs who are not selected may be chosen to ask a supplementary question if they "catch the eye" of the Speaker, done by standing and sitting before the prime minister gives an answer; the Leader of the Opposition asks six questions at PMQs, either as a whole block or in two separate groups of three. If the first question is asked by a government backbencher, the Leader of the Opposition is the second MP to ask questions. If the first question is asked by an opposition MP, this will be followed by a question from a government MP and by the questions from the Leader of the Opposition; the leader of the third largest parliamentary party would ask two questions.
The first formal question on the Order Paper, posed by saying "Number one, Mr. Speaker", is to ask the Prime Minister "if s/he will list his/her engagements for the day"; the Prime Minister replies:This morning I had meetings with ministerial colleagues and others. In addition to my duties in the House, I shall have further such meetings today; the reason for such a question is that the Prime Minister may be questioned only as to those matters for which he or she is directly responsible. Such matters are few in number, because many substantive matters are handled by the other Ministers in the Cabinet. By requiring the Prime Minister to list his or her engagements, the members may inquire whether the Prime Minister ought to be engaged in some other activity or be taking some other action. Before listing the day's engagements, the Prime Minister sometimes extends condolences or offers congratulations after significant events. During the Iraq War, Tony Blair introduced the practice o
Courts of Scotland
The courts of Scotland are responsible for administration of justice in Scotland, under statutory, common law and equitable provisions within Scots law. The courts are presided over by the judiciary of Scotland, who are the various judicial office holders responsible for issuing judgments, ensuring fair trials, deciding on sentencing; the Court of Session is the supreme civil court of Scotland, subject to appeals to the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, the High Court of Justiciary is the supreme criminal court, only subject to the authority of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom on devolution issues and human rights compatibility issues. The judiciary of Scotland, except the Lord Lyon King of Arms, are united under the leadership and authority of the Lord President and Lord Justice General, the president of the Court of Session and High Court of Justiciary; the Court of Session has the authority, under the Courts Reform Act 2014, to regulate civil procedure through passing subordinate legislation knows as Acts of Sederunt, the High Court of Justiciary has the authority to regulate criminal procedure through passing Acts of Adjournal.
Both Acts of Sederunt and Acts of Adjournal have the capacity to amend primary legislation where it deals with civil or criminal procedure respectively. The majority of criminal and civil justice in Scotland is handled by the local sheriff courts, which are arranged into six sheriffdoms led by a sheriff principal; the sheriff courts have exclusive jurisdiction over all civil cases with a monetary value up to £100,000, are able to try criminal cases both on complaint for summary offences, with a jury for indictable offences. Treason and rape are in the exclusive jurisdiction of the High Court of Justiciary, whilst the High Court and sheriff courts have concurrent jurisdiction over armed robbery, drug trafficking, sexual offences involving children all these cases are heard by the High Court. Administration for the courts is provided by the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service, a non-ministerial department of the Scottish Government; the Scottish Courts and Tribunal Service is operationally independent of the Scottish Ministers, is governed by a corporate board chaired by the Lord President, with a majority of judicial members.
There are various specialist courts and tribunals with specialist jurisdictions, which are subject to the ultimate jurisdiction of either the Court of Session or High Court of Justiciary, including. Children under the age of 16 who face allegations of criminal conduct are dealt with through the Children's Hearings, which are quasi-judicial in nature. Disputes involving agricultural tenancies and crofting are dealt with by the Scottish Land Court, disputes about private rights in titles for land ownership and land valuation are dealt with by the Lands Tribunal for Scotland. Heraldry is regulated in Scotland both by the civil and criminal law, with prosecutions taken before the Court of the Lord Lyon. Defunct and historical courts include the Admiralty Court, Court of Exchequer, district courts, the High Court of Constabulary; the United Kingdom does not have a single judicial system — England and Wales have one system, Scotland another, Northern Ireland a third. The Military Courts of the United Kingdom have jurisdiction over all members of the armed forces of the United Kingdom and civilians subject to service discipline in relation to offences against military law.
The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom operates across all three separate jurisdictions, hearing some civil - but not criminal - appeals in Scottish cases, determining certain devolution and human rights issues. The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom was created on 1 October 2009 by the Constitutional Reform Act 2005; the Supreme Court will hear civil appeals from the Court of Session, it hears appeals from all the civil and criminal courts of England and Wales and of Northern Ireland. The Supreme Court has no authority to hear appeals on criminal matters from the High Court of Justiciary; until the creation of the Supreme Court, ultimate appeal lay to the House of Lords, a chamber of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. The Supreme Court took over the judicial functions of the House of Lords, assumed the jurisdiction over devolution and human rights issues vested in the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. Cases involving "devolution issues" arising under the Scotland Act 1998, as amended by the Scotland Act 2016, which includes disputes regarding the validity of Acts of the Scottish Parliament or executive functions of the Scottish Government, are heard by the Supreme Court.
These cases may reach the Court as follows: The Court of Session may remit a case to the Supreme Court. The High Court of Justiciary can refer a point of law to the Supreme Court; the Law Officers of the Crown may refer a bill from the Scottish Parliament to the Supreme Court. Any court, if a Law Officer so desires, may refer a case to the Supreme Court. Law Officers may refer any issue not related to a case to the Supreme Court; the parties to a case may appeal a case from the Inner House of the Court of Session. The Court of Session is the supreme civil court, it is both a court of first instance and a court of appeal, sits in Parliament House in Edinburgh. The court of first instance is known as the court of appeal the Inner House; the Sheriff Appeal Court is a national court with a jurisdiction over civil appeals from the Sheriff Courts, replaces appeals made to the Sheriffs Principal. The Sheri
Charles, Prince of Wales
Charles, Prince of Wales is the heir apparent to the British throne as the eldest child of Queen Elizabeth II. He has been Duke of Cornwall and Duke of Rothesay since 1952, is the oldest and longest-serving heir apparent in British history, he is the longest-serving Prince of Wales, having held that title since 1958. Charles was born at Buckingham Palace as the first grandchild of King George Queen Elizabeth, he was educated at Cheam and Gordonstoun schools, which his father, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, had attended as a child, as well as the Timbertop campus of Geelong Grammar School in Victoria, Australia. After earning a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Cambridge, Charles served in the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy from 1971 to 1976. In 1981, he married Lady Diana Spencer and they had two sons: Prince William —later to become Duke of Cambridge—and Prince Harry —later to become Duke of Sussex. In 1996, the couple divorced following well-publicised extramarital affairs by both parties.
Diana was killed in a car crash in Paris the following year. In 2005, Charles married long-time partner Camilla Parker Bowles; as Prince of Wales, Charles undertakes official duties on behalf of the Queen and the Commonwealth realms. Charles founded The Prince's Trust in 1976, sponsors The Prince's Charities, is a patron, president and a member of over 400 other charities and organisations; as an environmentalist, he raises awareness of organic farming and climate change which has earned him awards and recognition from environmental groups. His support for alternative medicine, including homeopathy, has been criticised by some in the medical community and his views on the role of architecture in society and the conservation of historic buildings have received considerable attention from British architects and design critics. Since 1993, Charles has worked on the creation of Poundbury, an experimental new town based on his preferences, he is an author and co-author of a number of books. Charles was born at Buckingham Palace in London during the reign of his maternal grandfather George VI on 14 November 1948, at 9:14 pm, the first child of Princess Elizabeth, Duchess of Edinburgh, Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, first grandchild of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth.
He was baptised in the palace's Music Room by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Geoffrey Fisher, on 15 December 1948. The death of his grandfather and the accession of his mother as Queen Elizabeth II in 1952 made Charles her heir apparent; as the monarch's eldest son, he automatically took the titles Duke of Cornwall, Duke of Rothesay, Earl of Carrick, Baron of Renfrew, Lord of the Isles and Prince and Great Steward of Scotland. Charles attended his mother's coronation at Westminster Abbey on 2 June 1953; as was customary for upper-class children at the time, a governess, Catherine Peebles, was appointed and undertook his education between the ages of five and eight. Buckingham Palace announced in 1955 that Charles would attend school rather than have a private tutor, making him the first heir apparent to be educated in that manner. On 7 November 1956, Charles commenced classes in west London, he did not receive preferential treatment from the school's founder and headmaster, Stuart Townend, who advised the Queen to have Charles train in football because the boys were never deferential to anyone on the football field.
Charles attended two of his father's former schools, Cheam Preparatory School in Berkshire, from 1958, followed by Gordonstoun in the north-east of Scotland, beginning classes there in April 1962. Though he described Gordonstoun, noted for its rigorous curriculum, as "Colditz in kilts", Charles subsequently praised Gordonstoun, stating it had taught him "a great deal about myself and my own abilities and disabilities, it taught me to accept challenges and take the initiative." In a 1975 interview, he said he was "glad" he had attended Gordonstoun and that the "toughness of the place" was "much exaggerated". He spent two terms in 1966 at the Timbertop campus of Geelong Grammar School in Victoria, during which time he visited Papua New Guinea on a school trip with his history tutor, Michael Collins Persse. In 1973, Charles described his time at Timbertop as the most enjoyable part of his whole education. Upon his return to Gordonstoun, Charles emulated his father in becoming Head Boy, he left in 1967, with six GCE O-levels and two A-levels in history and French, at grades B and C respectively.
On his early education, Charles remarked, "I didn't enjoy school as much as I might have, but, only because I'm happier at home than anywhere else."Charles broke royal tradition a second time when he proceeded straight to university after his A-levels, rather than joining the British Armed Forces. In October 1967, he was admitted to Trinity College, where he read anthropology and history. During his second year, Charles attended the University College of Wales in Aberystwyth, studying Welsh history and language for a term, he graduated from Cambridge with a 2:2 Bachelor of Arts on 23 June 1970, the first heir apparent to earn a university degree. On 2 August 1975, he was awarded a Master of Arts degree from Cambridge, in accordance with the university's practice. Charles was created Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester on 26 July 1958, though his investiture was not held until 1 July 1969, when he was crowned by his mother in a televised ceremony held at Caernarfon Castle, he took his seat in the House of Lords in 1970, he made his maiden speech at a debate in June 1974, becoming the first royal to speak in the Lords since his great-great-grandfather Edward VII speaking as Prince of Wales, in 1884.
Privy Council of the United Kingdom
Her Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Council known as the Privy Council of the United Kingdom or just the Privy Council, is a formal body of advisers to the Sovereign of the United Kingdom. Its membership comprises senior politicians who are current or former members of either the House of Commons or the House of Lords; the Privy Council formally advises the sovereign on the exercise of the Royal Prerogative, corporately it issues executive instruments known as Orders in Council, which among other powers enact Acts of Parliament. The Council holds the delegated authority to issue Orders of Council used to regulate certain public institutions; the Council advises the sovereign on the issuing of Royal Charters, which are used to grant special status to incorporated bodies, city or borough status to local authorities. Otherwise, the Privy Council's powers have now been replaced by its executive committee, the Cabinet of the United Kingdom. Certain judicial functions are performed by the Queen-in-Council, although in practice its actual work of hearing and deciding upon cases is carried out day-to-day by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.
The Judicial Committee consists of senior judges appointed as Privy Counsellors: predominantly Justices of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom and senior judges from the Commonwealth. The Privy Council acted as the High Court of Appeal for the entire British Empire, continues to hear appeals from the Crown Dependencies, the British Overseas Territories, some independent Commonwealth states; the Privy Council of the United Kingdom was preceded by the Privy Council of Scotland and the Privy Council of England. The key events in the formation of the modern Privy Council are given below: In Anglo-Saxon England, Witenagemot was an early equivalent to the Privy Council of England. During the reigns of the Norman monarchs, the English Crown was advised by a royal court or curia regis, which consisted of magnates and high officials; the body concerned itself with advising the sovereign on legislation and justice. Different bodies assuming distinct functions evolved from the court; the courts of law took over the business of dispensing justice, while Parliament became the supreme legislature of the kingdom.
The Council retained the power to hear legal disputes, either in the first instance or on appeal. Furthermore, laws made by the sovereign on the advice of the Council, rather than on the advice of Parliament, were accepted as valid. Powerful sovereigns used the body to circumvent the Courts and Parliament. For example, a committee of the Council—which became the Court of the Star Chamber—was during the 15th century permitted to inflict any punishment except death, without being bound by normal court procedure. During Henry VIII's reign, the sovereign, on the advice of the Council, was allowed to enact laws by mere proclamation; the legislative pre-eminence of Parliament was not restored until after Henry VIII's death. Though the royal Council retained legislative and judicial responsibilities, it became a administrative body; the Council consisted of forty members in 1553, but the sovereign relied on a smaller committee, which evolved into the modern Cabinet. By the end of the English Civil War, the monarchy, House of Lords, Privy Council had been abolished.
The remaining parliamentary chamber, the House of Commons, instituted a Council of State to execute laws and to direct administrative policy. The forty-one members of the Council were elected by the House of Commons. In 1653, Cromwell became Lord Protector, the Council was reduced to between thirteen and twenty-one members, all elected by the Commons. In 1657, the Commons granted Cromwell greater powers, some of which were reminiscent of those enjoyed by monarchs; the Council became known as the Protector's Privy Council. In 1659, shortly before the restoration of the monarchy, the Protector's Council was abolished. Charles II restored the Royal Privy Council, but he, like previous Stuart monarchs, chose to rely on a small group of advisers. Under George I more power transferred to this committee, it now began to meet in the absence of the sovereign, communicating its decisions to him after the fact. Thus, the British Privy Council, as a whole, ceased to be a body of important confidential advisers to the sovereign.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the definition of the word privy in Privy Council is an obsolete meaning "of or pertaining to a particular person or persons, one's own". It is related to the word private, derives from the French word privé; the sovereign, when acting on the Council's advice, is known as the King-in-Council or Queen-in-Council. The members of the Council are collectively known as The Lords of Her Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Council; the chief officer of the body is the Lord President of the Council, the fourth highest Great Officer of State, a Cabinet member and either the Leader of the House of Lords or of the House of Commons. Another important official is the Clerk, whose signature is appended to all orders made in the Council. Both Privy Counsellor and Privy Councillor may be used to refer to a member of the Council; the former, however, is preferred by the Privy Council Office, emphasising English usage of the term Counsellor a
Politics of the United Kingdom
The United Kingdom is a unitary state with devolution, governed within the framework of a parliamentary democracy under a constitutional monarchy in which the monarch Queen Elizabeth II, is the head of state while the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Theresa May, is the head of government. Executive power is exercised by the British government, on behalf of and by the consent of the monarch, as well as by the devolved governments of Scotland and Wales and the Northern Ireland Executive. Legislative power is vested in the two chambers of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, the House of Commons and the House of Lords, as well as in the Scottish Parliament and Welsh and Northern Ireland assemblies; the judiciary is independent of the legislature. The highest court is the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom; the UK political system is a multi-party system. Since the 1920s, the two dominant parties have been the Labour Party. Before the Labour Party rose in British politics, the Liberal Party was the other major political party, along with the Conservatives.
While coalition and minority governments have been an occasional feature of parliamentary politics, the first-past-the-post electoral system used for general elections tends to maintain the dominance of these two parties, though each has in the past century relied upon a third party, such as the Liberal Democrats, to deliver a working majority in Parliament. A Conservative–Liberal Democrat coalition government held office from 2010 until 2015, the first coalition since 1945; the coalition ended following parliamentary elections on 7 May 2015, in which the Conservative Party won an outright majority of 330 seats in the House of Commons, while their coalition partners lost all but eight seats. With the partition of Ireland, Northern Ireland received home rule in 1920, though civil unrest meant direct rule was restored in 1972. Support for nationalist parties in Scotland and Wales led to proposals for devolution in the 1970s, though only in the 1990s did devolution happen. Today, Scotland and Northern Ireland each possess a legislature and executive, with devolution in Northern Ireland being conditional on participation in certain all-Ireland institutions.
The UK government remains responsible for non-devolved matters and, in the case of Northern Ireland, co-operates with the government of the Republic of Ireland. It is a matter of dispute as to whether increased autonomy and devolution of executive and legislative powers has contributed to the increase in support for independence; the principal Scottish pro-independence party, the Scottish National Party, became a minority government in 2007 and went on to win an overall majority of MSPs at the 2011 Scottish parliament elections and forms the Scottish Government administration. A 2014 referendum on independence led with 44.7 % voting for it. In Northern Ireland, a smaller percentage vote for Irish nationalist parties; the largest, Sinn Féin, not only advocates Irish reunification, but its members abstain from taking their elected seats in the Westminster parliament, as this would entail taking a pledge of allegiance to the British monarch. The constitution of the United Kingdom is uncodified, being made up of constitutional conventions and other elements such as EU law.
This system of government, known as the Westminster system, has been adopted by other countries those that were parts of the British Empire. The United Kingdom is responsible for several dependencies, which fall into two categories: the Crown dependencies, in the immediate vicinity of the UK, British Overseas Territories, which originated as colonies of the British Empire; the Economist Intelligence Unit rated the United Kingdom as a "full democracy" in 2017. The British monarch Queen Elizabeth II, is the chief of state of the United Kingdom. Though she takes little direct part in government, the Crown remains the fount in which ultimate executive power over government lies; these powers are known as royal prerogative and can be used for a vast amount of things, such as the issue or withdrawal of passports, to the dismissal of the Prime Minister or the declaration of war. The powers are delegated from the monarch in the name of the Crown, can be handed to various ministers, or other officers of the Crown, can purposely bypass the consent of Parliament.
The head of Her Majesty's Government, the prime minister has weekly meetings with the sovereign, where she may express her feelings, warn, or advise the prime minister in the government's work. According to the uncodified constitution of the United Kingdom, the monarch has the following powers:Domestic powers The power to dismiss and appoint a prime minister The power to dismiss and appoint other ministers The power to summon and prorogue Parliament The power to grant or refuse Royal Assent to bills The power to commission officers in the Armed Forces The power to command the Armed Forces of the United Kingdom The power to appoint members to the Queen's Counsel The power to issue and withdraw passports The power to grant prerogative of mercy The power to grant honours The power to create corporations via Royal CharterForeign powers The power to ratify and make treaties The power to declare war and peace The power to deploy the Armed Forces overseas The power to recognize states The power to credit and receive diplomats Executive power in the United Kingdom is exercised by the Sovereign, Queen Elizabeth II, via Her Majesty's Government and the devolved national authorities - the Scottish Government, the Welsh Assembly Government and the Northern Ireland Exec