Monarchy of the United Kingdom
The monarchy of the United Kingdom, commonly referred to as the British monarchy, is the constitutional monarchy of the United Kingdom, its dependencies and its overseas territories. The monarchs title is King or Queen, the current monarch and head of state, Queen Elizabeth II, ascended the throne on the death of her father, King George VI, on 6 February 1952. The monarch and his or her immediate family undertake various official, diplomatic, as the monarchy is constitutional, the monarch is limited to non-partisan functions such as bestowing honours and appointing the Prime Minister. The monarch is, by tradition, commander-in-chief of the British Armed Forces, from 1603, when the Scottish monarch King James VI inherited the English throne as James I, both the English and Scottish kingdoms were ruled by a single sovereign. From 1649 to 1660, the tradition of monarchy was broken by the republican Commonwealth of England, the Act of Settlement 1701 excluded Roman Catholics, or those who married Catholics, from succession to the English throne.
In 1707, the kingdoms of England and Scotland were merged to create the Kingdom of Great Britain, and in 1801, the British monarch became nominal head of the vast British Empire, which covered a quarter of the worlds surface at its greatest extent in 1921. After the Second World War, the vast majority of British colonies and territories became independent, George VI and his successor, Elizabeth II, adopted the title Head of the Commonwealth as a symbol of the free association of its independent member states. The United Kingdom and fifteen other Commonwealth monarchies that share the person as their monarch are called Commonwealth realms. In the uncodified Constitution of the United Kingdom, the Monarch is the Head of State, oaths of allegiance are made to the Queen and her lawful successors. God Save the Queen is the British national anthem, and the monarch appears on postage stamps, the Monarch takes little direct part in Government. Executive power is exercised by Her Majestys Government, which comprises Ministers, primarily the Prime Minister and the Cabinet and they have the direction of the Armed Forces of the Crown, the Civil Service and other Crown Servants such as the Diplomatic and Secret Services.
Judicial power is vested in the Judiciary, who by constitution, the Church of England, of which the Monarch is the head, has its own legislative and executive structures. Powers independent of government are legally granted to public bodies by statute or Statutory Instrument such as an Order in Council. The Sovereigns role as a monarch is largely limited to non-partisan functions. This role has been recognised since the 19th century, the constitutional writer Walter Bagehot identified the monarchy in 1867 as the dignified part rather than the efficient part of government. Whenever necessary, the Monarch is responsible for appointing a new Prime Minister, the Prime Minister takes office by attending the Monarch in private audience, and after kissing hands that appointment is immediately effective without any other formality or instrument. Since 1945, there have only been two hung parliaments, the first followed the February 1974 general election when Harold Wilson was appointed Prime Minister after Edward Heath resigned following his failure to form a coalition.
Although Wilsons Labour Party did not have a majority, they were the largest party, the second followed the May 2010 general election, in which the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats agreed to form the first coalition government since World War II
Leader of the Opposition (United Kingdom)
The Leader of Her Majestys Most Loyal Opposition is the politician who leads the official opposition in the United Kingdom. The current Leader of the Opposition is Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour Party, the Leader of the Opposition is normally viewed as an alternative prime minister, and is appointed to the Privy Council. They lead an Official Opposition Shadow Cabinet which scrutinises the actions of the Cabinet led by the prime minister, There is a Leader of the Opposition in the House of Lords. In the nineteenth century party affiliations were generally fixed and leaders in the two Houses were often of equal status. A single, clear Leader of the Opposition was only definitively settled if the leader in Commons or Lords was the outgoing prime minister. However, since the Parliament Act 1911 there has been no dispute that the leader in the House of Commons is pre-eminent, the Leader of the Opposition is entitled to a salary in addition to their salary as a Member of Parliament. In 2010, this additional entitlement was available up to £73,617, the first modern Leader of the Opposition was Charles James Fox, who led the Whigs as such for a generation, except during the Fox–North Coalition in 1783.
He finally rejoined the government in 1806, and died that year, for there to be a recognised Leader of the Opposition, it is necessary for there to be a sufficiently cohesive opposition to need a formal leader. The emergence of the office coincided with the period when wholly united parties became the norm. This situation was normalised in the Parliament of 1807–1812, when the members of the Grenvillite and Foxite Whig factions resolved to maintain a joint, dual-house leadership for the whole party. The Ministry of all the Talents, in which both Whig factions participated fell at the 1807 general election, during which the Whigs had re-adopted traditional factions, the prime minister of the Talents ministry, Lord Grenville had led his eponymous faction from the House of Lords. Meanwhile, the government leader of the House of Commons, Viscount Howick, led his faction, howicks father, the 1st Earl Grey died on 14 November 1807. As such the new Earl Grey vacated his seat in the House of Commons and this left no obvious Whig leader in the House of Commons.
Grenvilles article in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography confirms that he was considered the Whig leader in the House of Lords between 1807 and 1817, despite Grey leading the larger faction. Grenville and Grey, political historian Archibald Foord describes as being duumvirs of the party from 1807 to 1817, Grenville was at first reluctant to name a Leader of the Opposition in the House of Commons, commenting. All the elections in the world would not have made Windham or Sheridan leaders of the old Opposition while Fox was alive, eventually they jointly recommended George Ponsonby to the Whig MPs, whom they accepted as the first Leader of the Opposition in the House of Commons. Ponsonby proved a leader but as he could not be persuaded to resign. Lord Grenville retired from politics in 1817, leaving Grey as the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Lords
Privy Council of the United Kingdom
Her Majestys Most Honourable Privy Council, usually known simply as the Privy Council, is a formal body of advisers to the Sovereign of the United Kingdom. Its membership mainly comprises senior politicians, who are present or former members of either the House of Commons or the House of Lords, the Council holds the delegated authority to issue Orders of Council, mostly 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, the Privy Councils powers have now been largely replaced by the Cabinet of the United Kingdom. The Judicial Committee consists of judges appointed as Privy Counsellors, predominantly Justices of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom. The Privy Council of the United Kingdom was preceded by the Privy Council of Scotland, the key events in the formation of the modern Privy Council are given below, 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 court or curia regis. The body originally concerned itself with advising the sovereign on legislation, later, different bodies assuming distinct functions evolved from the court. The courts of law took over the business of dispensing justice, 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, powerful sovereigns often used the body to circumvent the Courts and Parliament. During Henry VIIIs 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 VIIIs death. Though the royal Council retained legislative and judicial responsibilities, it became an administrative body. The Council consisted of forty members in 1553, but the sovereign relied on a smaller committee, by the end of the English Civil War, the monarchy, House of Lords, and Privy Council had been abolished.
The remaining parliamentary chamber, the House of Commons, instituted a Council of State to execute laws, the forty-one members of the Council were elected by the House of Commons, the body was headed by Oliver Cromwell, de facto military dictator of the nation. In 1653, Cromwell became Lord Protector, and the Council was reduced to thirteen and twenty-one members, all elected by the Commons. In 1657, the Commons granted Cromwell even greater powers, some of which were reminiscent of those enjoyed by monarchs, the Council became known as the Protectors Privy Council, its members were appointed by the Lord Protector, subject to Parliaments approval. In 1659, shortly before the restoration of the monarchy, the Protectors 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 even more power transferred to this committee and 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 and it is closely related to the word private, and derives from the French word privé
House of Commons of the United Kingdom
The House of Commons of the United Kingdom is the lower house of the countrys parliament. Like the upper house, the House of Lords, it meets in the Palace of Westminster, the full name of the house is, The Honourable the Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in Parliament assembled. The House is a body consisting of 650 members known as Members of Parliament. Members are elected to represent constituencies by first-past-the-post and hold their seats until Parliament is dissolved, under the Parliament Act 1911, the Lords power to reject legislation was reduced to a delaying power. The Government is primarily responsible to the House of Commons and the prime minister stays in office only as long as he or she retains the support of a majority of its members. Although it does not formally 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.
Since 1963, by convention, the minister is always a member of the House of Commons. The Commons may indicate its lack of support for the Government by rejecting a motion of confidence or by passing a motion of no confidence, confidence and no confidence motions are sometimes phrased explicitly, for instance, That this House has no confidence in Her Majestys Government. Many other motions were considered confidence issues, even though not explicitly phrased as such, in particular, important bills that form a part of the Governments agenda were formerly considered matters of confidence, as is the annual Budget. Parliament normally sits for a term of five years. Subject to that limit, the minister could formerly choose the timing of the dissolution of parliament. By this second mechanism, the government of the United Kingdom can change without a general election. In such circumstances there may not even have been a party leadership election, as the new leader may be chosen by acclaim. A prime minister may resign if he or she is not defeated at the polls.
In such a case, the premiership goes to whoever can command a majority in the House of Commons, in practice this is usually the new leader of the outgoing prime ministers party. Until 1965, the Conservative Party had no mechanism for electing a new leader, when Anthony Eden resigned as PM in 1957 without recommending a successor and it fell to the Queen to appoint Harold Macmillan as the new prime minister, after taking the advice of ministers. By convention, all ministers must be members of the House of Commons or of the House of Lords, a handful have been appointed who were outside Parliament, but in most cases they entered Parliament either in a by-election or by receiving a peerage. Since 1902, all ministers have been members of the Commons
Royal prerogative in the United Kingdom
Prerogative powers were formerly exercised by the monarch acting on his or her own initiative. Today the royal prerogative is available in the conduct of the government of the United Kingdom, including foreign affairs, defence, a prominent constitutional theorist, A. V. Case law exists to support both views. A clear distinction has not been necessary in the relevant cases, 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, an early attempt to define the royal prerogative was stated by Richard IIs judges in 1387. During the 16th century, this began to recede. Under Henry VIII and his successors, the king was the head of the Protestant English church, the rise of Parliament in this period, was problematic. While the monarch was the predominant partner in the English constitution, in Ferrers 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, at the same time and his descendants normally 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. He contends that the view that the law is supreme over all was the view of all the lawyers and statesmen. 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, 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 right to sit as a judge. 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, which requires long study and experience, before that a man can attain to the cognizance of it.
Similarly, in the Case of Proclamations in 1611, Coke held that the monarch could only exercise those prerogatives he already had, with the Glorious Revolution, King James VII and II was replaced by Queen Mary II and her husband King William III. At the same time the Bill of Rights 1689 was drafted and this prerogative was normally exercised at the request of Parliament and the prime minister, either at his or her discretion or following a motion of no confidence. A dissolution is allowable, or necessary, whenever the wishes of the legislature are, or may fairly be presumed to be, the monarch could force the dissolution of Parliament through a refusal of royal assent, this would inevitably lead to a government resigning. By convention, the monarch always assents to bills, the last time the royal assent was not given was in 1704 during the reign of Queen Anne, the royal prerogative to dissolve Parliament was abrogated by the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011
John Simon Bercow is a British politician who has been the Speaker of the House of Commons since June 2009. Prior to his election to Speaker, he was a member of the Conservative Party and he served as a councillor from 1986 to 1990 and unsuccessfully contested parliamentary seats in the 1987 and 1992 general elections. In the 1997 general election, Bercow was elected the MP for Buckingham and he held posts in the shadow cabinets of Iain Duncan Smith and Michael Howard. In November 2002, he resigned from the cabinet over disputes concerning the Adoption and Children Act. In September 2004, Bercow was sacked after disagreements with Howard, following the resignation of Speaker Michael Martin, Bercow announced his intention to stand for the Speakership election on 22 June 2009 and was successful. He remained Speaker and was re-elected in his constituency at the election on 7 May 2015. He was re-elected as Speaker, when the House sat at the start of the new parliament on 18 May 2015, in 2014 Bercow was appointed Chancellor of the University of Bedfordshire.
Bercow was born to an English Jewish family in Edgware and his paternal grandparents were Jews from Romania who arrived in England a century ago. The son of a driver, Bercow attended Frith Manor Primary School in Woodside Park, and Finchley Manorhill. In his youth, Bercow had been ranked Britains No.1 junior tennis player, Bercow graduated with a first-class honours degree in government from the University of Essex in 1985. Professor Anthony King said When he was a student here, he was very right-wing, pretty stroppy, as a young activist, Bercow was a member of the right-wing Conservative Monday Club, becoming secretary of its immigration and repatriation committee. However, at the age of 20 he left the club, in 1981, Bercow had stood as a candidate for the national executive of the Monday Club and called for a programme of assisted repatriation of immigrants. He has since called his participation in the club utter madness, after graduating from the University of Essex, Bercow was elected as the last national chairman of the Federation of Conservative Students, 1986–87.
After a spell in merchant banking, Bercow joined the lobbying firm Rowland Sallingbury Casey in 1988, with fellow Conservative Julian Lewis, Bercow ran an advanced speaking and campaigning course for over 10 years, which trained over 600 Conservatives in campaigning and communication techniques. He has lectured in the United States to students of the Leadership Institute, in 1986, Bercow was elected as a Conservative councillor in the London Borough of Lambeth, and served for four years. In 1987, he was appointed the youngest deputy leader in the United Kingdom. In 1995, Bercow was appointed as an adviser to the Chief Secretary to the Treasury. After Aitkens resignation to fight an action, Bercow served as a special adviser to the Secretary of State for National Heritage
Government of the United Kingdom
Her Majestys Government, commonly referred to as the UK government or British government, is the central government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The government is led by the Prime Minister, who all the remaining ministers. The prime minister and the other most senior ministers belong to the supreme decision-making committee, the government ministers all sit in Parliament, and are accountable to it. After an election, the monarch selects as prime minister the leader of the party most likely to command a majority of MPs in the House of Commons. Under the uncodified British constitution, executive authority lies with the monarch, although this authority is exercised only by, or on the advice of, the prime minister, the Cabinet members advise the monarch as members of the Privy Council. They exercise power directly as leaders of the Government Departments, the current prime minister is Theresa May, who took office on 13 July 2016. She is the leader of the Conservative Party, which won a majority of seats in the House of Commons in the election on 7 May 2015.
Prior to this and the Conservatives led a government from 2010 to 2015 with the Liberal Democrats. A key principle of the British Constitution is that the government is responsible to Parliament, Britain is a constitutional monarchy in which the reigning monarch does not make any open political decisions. All political decisions are taken by the government and Parliament and this constitutional state of affairs is the result of a long history of constraining and reducing the political power of the monarch, beginning with the Magna Carta in 1215. Parliament is split into two houses, the House of Lords and the House of Commons, the House of Commons is the lower house and is the more powerful. The House of Lords is the house and although it can vote to amend proposed laws. Parliamentary time is essential for bills to be passed into law, Ministers of the Crown are responsible to the House in which they sit, they make statements in that House and take questions from members of that House. For most senior ministers this is usually the elected House of Commons rather than the House of Lords, since the start of Edward VIIs reign, in 1901, the prime minister has always been an elected member of Parliament and therefore directly accountable to the House of Commons.
Under the British system the government is required by convention and for reasons to maintain the confidence of the House of Commons. It requires the support of the House of Commons for the maintenance of supply, by convention if a government loses the confidence of the House of Commons it must either resign or a General Election is held. The support of the Lords, while useful to the government in getting its legislation passed without delay, is not vital, a government is not required to resign even if it loses the confidence of the Lords and is defeated in key votes in that House. The House of Commons is thus the Responsible house, the prime minister is held to account during Prime Ministers Question Time which provides an opportunity for MPs from all parties to question the PM on any subject
Erskine May: Parliamentary Practice
Erskine May, Parliamentary Practice is a parliamentary authority originally written by British constitutional theorist and Clerk of the House of Commons, Thomas Erskine May. Since its first publication in 1844, the book has frequently been updated with Erskine May editing nine editions of the book in his lifetime, updates have continued into the present day, the 24th edition was published on 30 June 2011. The work has been influential outside the United Kingdom, particularly in countries which use the Westminster system, book I, Constitution and Privileges of Parliament. Chapter II, Power and Jurisdiction of Parliament collectively and Power of each of its constituent parts. Chapter III, General view of the Privileges of Parliament, Power of commitment by both Houses for Breaches of Privilege, causes of commitment cannot be inquired into by Courts of Law, nor the prisoners admitted to bail. Acts construed as Breaches of Privilege, different punishments inflicted by the two Houses. Chapter IV, Privilege of Freedom of Speech confirmed by the ancient law of Parliament and by statute, its nature, chapter V, Freedom from Arrest or Molestation, its antiquity and mode of enforcement.
Privilege of not being impleaded in civil actions, of not being liable to be summoned by subpoena or to serve on juries, commitment of Members by Courts of Justice. Privilege of witnesses and others in attendance on Parliament, chapter VI, Jurisdiction of Courts of Law in matters of Privilege. Book II, Practice and Proceedings in Parliament and Royal Approbation of the Speaker of the Commons. Queens Speech, and Addresses in answer, places of Peers and Members of the House of Commons. Attendance on the service of Parliament, office of Speaker in both Houses. Questions superseded by Adjournment, or by reading the Orders of the Day, chapter IX, Amendments to Questions, and Amendments to proposed Amendments. Chapter X, The same Question or Bill may not be offered in a Session. Chapter XI, Rules of Debate and time of speaking and orders to be observed by Members in speaking, mode of dividing in both Houses. Chapter XIII, Committees of the whole House, General rules of proceeding, Chairman and Debate, chapter XIV, Constitution and Proceedings of Select Committees in both Houses.
Chapter XV, Modes of Summons and Examination, Administration of Oaths, chapter XVI, Communications between the Lords and Commons and Conferences, Joint Committees, and Committees communicating with each other. Chapter XVII, Communications from the Crown to Parliament, Their forms and character, How acknowledged, Addresses to the Crown, Messages to Members of the Royal Family, chapter XVIII, Proceedings of Parliament in passing Public Bills, Their several stages in both Houses
Parliament of the United Kingdom
It alone possesses legislative supremacy and thereby ultimate power over all other political bodies in the UK and its territories. Its head is the Sovereign of the United Kingdom and its seat is the Palace of Westminster in the City of Westminster, one of the boroughs of the British capital, the parliament is bicameral, consisting of an upper house and a lower house. The Sovereign forms the third component of the legislature, prior to the opening of the Supreme Court in October 2009, the House of Lords performed a judicial role through the Law Lords. The House of Commons is an elected chamber with elections held at least every five years. The two Houses meet in separate chambers in the Palace of Westminster in London, most cabinet ministers are from the Commons, whilst junior ministers can be from either House. The Parliament of Great Britain was formed in 1707 following the ratification of the Treaty of Union by Acts of Union passed by the Parliament of England and the Parliament of Scotland.
The UK parliament and its institutions have set the pattern for many throughout the world. However, John Bright – who coined the epithet – used it with reference to a rather than a parliament. In theory, the UKs supreme legislative power is vested in the Crown-in-Parliament. However, the Crown normally acts on the advice of the Prime Minister, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was created in 1801, by the merger of the Kingdoms of Great Britain and Ireland under the Acts of Union. The principle of responsibility to the lower House did not develop until the 19th century—the House of Lords was superior to the House of Commons both in theory and in practice. Members of the House of Commons were elected in an electoral system. Thus, the borough of Old Sarum, with seven voters, many small constituencies, known as pocket or rotten boroughs, were controlled by members of the House of Lords, who could ensure the election of their relatives or supporters. During the reforms of the 19th century, beginning with the Reform Act 1832, No longer dependent on the Lords for their seats, MPs grew more assertive.
The supremacy of the British House of Commons was established in the early 20th century, in 1909, the Commons passed the so-called Peoples Budget, which made numerous changes to the taxation system which were detrimental to wealthy landowners. The House of Lords, which consisted mostly of powerful landowners, on the basis of the Budgets popularity and the Lords consequent unpopularity, the Liberal Party narrowly won two general elections in 1910. Using the result as a mandate, the Liberal Prime Minister, Herbert Henry Asquith, introduced the Parliament Bill, in the face of such a threat, the House of Lords narrowly passed the bill. However, regardless of the Parliament Acts of 1911 and 1949, the Government of Ireland Act 1920 created the parliaments of Northern Ireland and Southern Ireland and reduced the representation of both parts at Westminster
Charles Brandon, 1st Duke of Suffolk
Charles Brandon, 1st Duke of Suffolk, 1st Viscount Lisle, KG was the son of Sir William Brandon and Elizabeth Bruyn. Through his third wife Mary Tudor he was brother-in-law to Henry VIII and his father was the standard-bearer of Henry Tudor, Earl of Richmond. Suffolk died of unknown causes at Guildford, Charles Brandon was the second but only surviving son of Sir William Brandon, Henry Tudors standard-bearer at the Battle of Bosworth Field, where he was slain by Richard III. His mother, Elizabeth Bruyn, was daughter and co-heiress of Sir Henry Bruyn, Charles Brandon was brought up at the court of Henry VII. He is described by Dugdale as a person comely of stature, high of courage and conformity of disposition to King Henry VIII, Brandon held a succession of offices in the royal household, becoming Master of the Horse in 1513, and received many valuable grants of land. On 15 May 1513, he was created Viscount Lisle, having entered into a contract with his ward, Elizabeth Grey. The contract was ended and the title was forfeited as a result of Brandons marriage to Mary Tudor in 1515 and he distinguished himself at the sieges of Thérouanne and Tournai in the French campaign of 1513.
One of the agents of Margaret of Savoy, governor of the Netherlands, writing from before Thérouanne, reminded her that Lord Lisle was a second king and advised her to write him a kind letter. After his marriage to Mary, Suffolk lived for years in retirement. In 1523 he was sent to Calais to command the English troops there. He invaded France in company with Floris dEgmont, Count of Buren, who was at the head of the Flemish troops, and laid waste the north of France, after Wolseys disgrace, Suffolks influence increased daily. He was one of the appointed by Henry to dismiss Catherines household. His family had a residence on the west side of Borough High Street, Suffolk supported Henrys ecclesiastical policy, receiving a large share of the lands after the dissolution of the monasteries. In 1544, he was for the time in command of an English army for the invasion of France. He died at Guildford, Surrey, on 24 August in the following year, at Henry VIIIs expense he was buried at Windsor in St Georges Chapel.
Suffolk took part in the jousts which celebrated the marriage of Mary Tudor, Henrys sister and he was accredited to negotiate various matters with Louis, and on Louis death was sent to congratulate the new King, Francis I, and to negotiate Marys return to England. Love between Suffolk and the young Dowager Queen Mary had existed before her marriage, and Francis roundly charged him with an intention to marry her, the pair cut short the difficulties by a private marriage on 5 March 1515. Suffolk announced this to Thomas Wolsey, who had been their fast friend and they were openly married at Greenwich Hall on 13 May
Politics of the United Kingdom
The judiciary is independent of the executive and 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 largest political participation have been the Conservative Party and the Labour Party, before the Labour Party rose in British politics, the Liberal Party was the other major political party along with the Conservatives. A Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government held office from 2010 until 2015, 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 actually happen. Today, Scotland and Northern Ireland each possess a legislature and executive, the United Kingdom 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 increased autonomy. A2014 referendum on independence led to a rejection of the proposal, in Northern Ireland, a smaller percentage vote for Irish nationalist parties. The constitution of the United Kingdom is uncodified, being made up of constitutional conventions and this system of government, known as the Westminster system, has been adopted by other countries, especially those that were formerly parts of the British Empire. The British monarch, currently 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. The head of Her Majestys Government, the minister, has weekly meetings with the sovereign. In practice, this means that the leader of the party with an absolute majority of seats in the House of Commons is chosen to be the Prime Minister. If no party has a majority, the leader of the largest party is given the first opportunity to form a coalition.
The Prime Minister selects the other Ministers which make up the Government, about twenty of the most senior government ministers make up the Cabinet and approximately 100 ministers in total comprise the government. In accordance with convention, all ministers within the government are either Members of Parliament or peers in the House of Lords. In practice, members of parliament of all parties are strictly controlled by whips who try to ensure they vote according to party policy. If the government has a majority, they are very unlikely to lose enough votes to be unable to pass legislation. The Prime Minister is the most senior minister in the Cabinet and they are responsible for chairing Cabinet meetings, selecting Cabinet ministers, and formulating government policy