Legislatures of the United Kingdom
The Legislatures of the United Kingdom are derived from a number of different sources from both within the UK and through membership of the European Union. The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the supreme legislative body for the United Kingdom and the British overseas territories with Scotland and Northern Ireland each having their own devolved legislatures; each of the three major jurisdictions of the United Kingdom has legal system. The Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the supreme legislative body for the United Kingdom and for English Law, 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 Westminster, London; the United Kingdom Legislation may take the form of Acts or Statutory Instruments, made under the authority of an Act of Parliament by either a government minister or by the Queen-in-Council.
The latter are subject either to parliamentary approval or parliamentary disallowance. The majority of Acts considered in the UK are defined as public general acts, or'Acts of Parliament' as they will have progressed and gained approval as a Bill through both House of Commons and House of Lords, have gained Royal Assent from the Monarch. Local and Personal Acts of Parliament are presented to Parliament as a result of sponsored petitions. These, are processed through committees to enable relevant or affected parties to challenge or change the proposed Act. Prerogative instruments, made by the Sovereign under the royal prerogative are another source of UK-wide legislation.. The UK Parliament is responsible for all matters relating to defence and all foreign affairs and relations with international organisations the United Nations, the Commonwealth and the European Union. With there being no devolved legislature in England the UK Parliament is the supreme body for its governance, public bodies and local government.
The House of Commons is the lower house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom and is an elected chamber consisting of 650 members known as Members of Parliament which are elected using First past the post in single-member constituencies with 533 elected from England, 59 from Scotland, 40 from Wales and 18 from Northern Ireland. The House of Commons is now considered to be the supreme chamber of Parliament; the House of Lords is the upper house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom however it is an unelected chamber with all members to the House of Lords being appointed. As of August 2018, there are 793 members known as "Peers"; the House of Lords no longer has the same powers as the House of Commons under the Parliament Acts of 1911 and 1949 when it comes to blocking general legislation and the passing of financial legislation. The Scottish Parliament is the national, unicameral legislature of Scotland, located in the Holyrood area of the capital, Edinburgh; the Parliament, informally referred to as "Holyrood", is a democratically elected body comprising 129 members known as Members of the Scottish Parliament.
Of these 73 MSPs are elected using First past the post in single member constituencies and a further 56 MSPs are elected using the D'Hondt method, a form of party-list proportional representation in eight additional member regions with each region electing 7 MSPs. The Scottish Parliament was convened by the Scotland Act 1998, which sets out its powers as a devolved legislature; the Act delineates the legislative competence of the Parliament – the areas in which it can make laws – by explicitly specifying powers that are "reserved" to the Parliament of the United Kingdom: all matters that are not explicitly reserved are automatically the responsibility of the Scottish Parliament. The British Parliament retains the ability to amend the terms of reference of the Scottish Parliament, can extend or reduce the areas in which it can make laws; the first meeting of the new Parliament took place on 12 May 1999. The Scottish Statutory Instruments made by the Scottish Government are another source of legislation.
As with Statutory Instruments made by the British government, these are subject to either approval or disallowance by the Scottish Parliament The National Assembly for Wales has the power to make legislation in Wales. The Assembly was created by the Government of Wales Act 1998, which followed a referendum in 1997, it is a democratically elected body with 60 members known as Assembly Members. Of these 40 AMs are elected using First past the post in single member constituencies and a further 20 MSPs are elected using the D'Hondt method, a form of party-list proportional representation in five additional member regions with each region electing 4 AMs; the Assembly had no powers to initiate primary legislation until limited law-making powers were gained through the Government of Wales Act 2006. Its primary law-making powers were enhanced following a Yes vote in the referendum on 3 March 2011, making it possible for it to legislate in the 20 areas that are devolved without having to consult the UK Parliament, nor the Secretary of State for Wales.
The Assembly may delegate authority to enact legislation through Welsh Statutory Instruments. Under the Wales Act 2017 the Assembly came into line with Scotland and Northern Ireland and moved to a resevered powers model, it is expected that the National Assembly for Wales will be renamed the "We
Speaker of the House of Commons (United Kingdom)
The Speaker of the House of Commons is the presiding officer of the House of Commons, the United Kingdom's nominally lower, but more influential, chamber of Parliament. John Bercow was elected Speaker on 22 June 2009, following the resignation of Michael Martin, he was since re-elected, three times, following the general elections in 2010, 2015 and 2017. The Speaker presides over the House's debates; the Speaker is responsible for maintaining order during debate, may punish members who break the rules of the House. Unlike presiding officers of legislatures in many other countries, Speakers remain non-partisan and renounce all affiliation with their former political parties when taking office and afterwards; the Speaker does not take part in vote. Aside from duties relating to presiding over the House, the Speaker performs administrative and procedural functions, remains a constituency Member of Parliament; the Speaker has the obligation to reside in Speaker's House at the Palace of Westminster.
The office of Speaker is as old as Parliament itself. The earliest year for which a presiding officer has been identified is 1258, when Peter de Montfort presided over the Parliament held in Oxford. Early presiding officers were known by prolocutor; the continuous history of the office of Speaker is held to date from 1376 when Sir Peter de la Mare spoke for the commons in the "Good Parliament" as they joined leading magnates in purging the chief ministers of the Crown and the most unpopular members of the king's household. Edward III was frail and in seclusion, it was left to a furious John of Gaunt, to fight back. He arrested disgraced other leading critics. In the next, "Bad Parliament", in 1377, a cowed Commons put forward Gaunt's steward, Thomas Hungerford, as their spokesman in retracting their predecessors' misdeeds of the previous year. Gaunt evidently wanted a "mirror-image" as his form of counter-coup and this notion, born in crisis, of one'speaker', who also became'chairman' and organiser of the Commons' business, was recognised as valuable and took immediate root after 1376–7.
On 6 October 1399, Sir John Cheyne of Beckford was elected speaker. The powerful Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Arundel, is said to have voiced his fears of Cheyne's reputation as a critic of the Church. Eight days Cheyne resigned on grounds of ill-health, although he remained in favour with the king and active in public life for a further 14 years. Although the officer was elected by the Commons at the start of each Parliament, with at least one contested election known, in 1420, in practice the Crown was able to get whom it wanted, indicating that the famous'defence of the Commons' privilege' should not be seen in isolation as the principal thread in the office's evolution. Whilst the principle of giving this spokesman personal immunity from recrimination as only being the voice of the whole body was adopted and did enhance the Commons' role, the Crown found it useful to have one person with the authority to select and lead the lower house's business and responses to the Crown's agenda, much more than not in the way the Crown wanted.
Thus, Whig ideas of the Commons growing in authority as against royal power are somewhat simplistic. Throughout the medieval and early modern period, every speaker was an MP for a county, reflecting the implicit position that such shire representatives were of greater standing in the house than the more numerous burgess MPs. Although evidence is non-existent, it has been surmised that any vote was by count of head, but by the same token the lack of evidence of actual votes suggests that most decisions, at least of a general kind, were reached more through persuasion and the weight by status of the county MPs. In such a situation, the influence of the speaker should not be underestimated. Sir Thomas More was the first speaker to go on to become Lord Chancellor; until the 17th century, members of the House of Commons continued to view their speaker as an agent of the Crown. As Parliament evolved, the Speaker's position grew to involve more duties to the House than to the Crown; this change is sometimes said to be reflected by an incident in 1642, when King Charles I entered the House in order to search for and arrest five members for high treason.
When the King asked him if he knew of the location of these members, the Speaker, William Lenthall, famously replied: "May it please your Majesty, I have neither eyes to see nor tongue to speak in this place but as the House is pleased to direct me, whose servant I am here."The development of Cabinet government under King William III in the late 17th century caused further change in the role of the Speaker. Speakers were associated with the ministry, held other government offices. For example, Robert Harley served as Speaker and as a Secretary of State between 1704 and 1705; the speaker between 1728 and 1761, Arthur Onslow, reduced ties with the government, though the office remained to a large degree political. The speakership evolved into its modern form—in which the holder is an impartial and apolitical officer who does not
Theresa Mary May is a British politician serving as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Leader of the Conservative Party since 2016. She served as Home Secretary from 2010 to 2016. May was first elected Member of Parliament for Maidenhead in 1997. Ideologically, she identifies herself as a one-nation conservative. May attended St Hugh's College, Oxford. After graduating in 1977, she worked for the Bank of England, she served as a councillor for Durnsford in Merton. After unsuccessful attempts to be elected to the House of Commons she was elected as the MP for Maidenhead in the 1997 general election. From 1999 to 2010, May held a number of roles in Shadow Cabinets, she was Chairwoman of the Conservative Party from 2002 to 2003. When the coalition government was formed after the 2010 general election, May was appointed Home Secretary and Minister for Women and Equalities, but gave up the latter role in 2012, she continued to serve as home secretary after the Conservative victory in the 2015 general election, became the longest-serving home secretary in over 60 years.
During her tenure she pursued reform of the Police Federation, implemented a harder line on drugs policy including the banning of khat, oversaw the introduction of elected Police and Crime Commissioners, the deportation of Abu Qatada, the creation of the National Crime Agency, brought in additional restrictions on immigration. She is to the only woman to hold two of the great offices of state. In July 2016, after David Cameron resigned, May was elected as Conservative Party Leader, becoming Britain's second female Prime Minister after Margaret Thatcher; as Prime Minister, May began the process of withdrawing the UK from the European Union, triggering Article 50 in March 2017. The following month, she announced a snap general election, with the aim of strengthening her hand in Brexit negotiations; this resulted in a hung parliament, in which the number of Conservative seats fell from 330 to 317, despite the party winning its highest vote share since 1983. The loss of an overall majority prompted her to enter a confidence and supply arrangement with the Democratic Unionist Party to support a minority government.
May survived a vote of no confidence from her own MPs in December 2018 and a Parliamentary vote of no confidence in January 2019. May has said that she will not lead her party in the next general election scheduled for 2022 under the Fixed-term Parliaments Act, but has not ruled out leading it into a snap election. May carried out the Brexit negotiations with the European Union, adhering to the Chequers Agreement, which resulted in the draft Withdrawal Agreement between the UK and the EU; this agreement was defeated by Parliament in January 2019, negotiations continue to try and reach a deal. May’s revised deal was defeated in Parliament by 391 votes to 242. In March 2019, May committed to stepping down as Prime Minister if Parliament passed her Brexit deal, to make way for a new leader in the second phase of Brexit. Born on 1 October 1956 in Eastbourne, May is the only child of Zaidee Mary and Hubert Brasier, her father was a Church of England clergyman, chaplain of an Eastbourne hospital. He became vicar of Enstone with Heythrop and of St Mary's at Wheatley, to the east of Oxford.
May's mother was a supporter of the Conservative Party. She attended Heythrop Primary School, a state school in Heythrop, followed by St. Juliana's Convent School for Girls, a Roman Catholic independent school in Begbroke, which closed in 1984; when she was 13, May won a place at the former Holton Park Girls' Grammar School, a state school in Wheatley. During her time as a pupil, the Oxfordshire education system was reorganised and the school became the new Wheatley Park Comprehensive School. May attended the University of Oxford where she read geography at St Hugh's College, graduating with a second class BA degree in 1977. Between 1977 and 1983 May worked at the Bank of England, from 1985 to 1997 as a financial consultant and senior advisor in International Affairs at the Association for Payment Clearing Services, she married Philip May in September 1980. Her father died in her mother of multiple sclerosis the following year. May stated she was "sorry they never saw me elected as a Member of Parliament".
May served as a councillor for Durnsford ward on the London Borough of Merton from 1986 to 1994, where she was Chairman of Education and Deputy Group Leader and Housing Spokesman. In the 1992 general election May stood unsuccessfully for the safe Labour seat of North West Durham, coming second to incumbent MP Hilary Armstrong by 12,747 votes to 26,734, with future Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron coming third. May stood at the 1994 Barking by-election, prompted by the death of Labour MP Jo Richardson; the seat had been continuously held by Labour since it was created in 1945 and Labour candidate Margaret Hodge was expected to win which she did, with 13,704 votes. May came a distant third with 1,976 votes. Ahead of the 1997 general election, May was selected as the Conservative candidate for Maidenhead, a new seat, created from parts of the seats of Windsor and Maidenhead and Wokingham, she was elected with 25,344 votes double the total of second-placed Andrew Terence Ketteringham of the Liberal Democrats, who took 13,363 votes.
Having entered Parliament, May became a member of William Hague's front-bench Opposition team, as Shadow Spokesman for Schools, Disabled People and Women. She became the first of the 1997 MPs to enter the Shadow Cabinet when in 1999 she
Supreme Court of the United Kingdom
The Supreme Court is the final court of appeal in the UK for civil cases, for criminal cases from England and Northern Ireland. It hears cases of the greatest public or constitutional importance affecting the whole population; as authorised by the Constitutional Reform Act 2005, Part 3, Section 23 and s. 23, the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom was formally established on 1 October 2009. It assumed the judicial functions of the House of Lords, exercised by the Lords of Appeal in Ordinary, the 12 judges appointed as members of the House of Lords to carry out its judicial business as the Appellate Committee of the House of Lords, its jurisdiction over devolution matters had been exercised by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. The current President of the Supreme Court is Baroness Hale of Richmond, its Deputy President is Lord Reed; the United Kingdom has a doctrine of parliamentary sovereignty, so the Supreme Court is much more limited in its powers of judicial review than the constitutional or supreme courts of some other countries.
It cannot overturn any primary legislation made by Parliament. However, it can overturn secondary legislation if, for example, that legislation is found to be ultra vires to the powers in primary legislation allowing it to be made. Further, under section 4 of the Human Rights Act 1998, the Supreme Court, like some other courts in the United Kingdom, may make a declaration of incompatibility, indicating that it believes that the legislation subject to the declaration is incompatible with one of the rights in the European Convention on Human Rights; such a declaration can apply to secondary legislation. The legislation is not overturned by the declaration, neither Parliament nor the government is required to agree with any such declaration. However, if they do accept a declaration, ministers can exercise powers under section 10 of the act to amend the legislation by statutory instrument to remove the incompatibility or ask Parliament to amend the legislation; the creation of a Supreme Court for the United Kingdom was first mooted in a consultation paper published by the Department of Constitutional Affairs in July 2003.
Although the paper noted that there had been no criticism of the then-current Law Lords or any indication of an actual bias, it argued that the separation of the judicial functions of the Judicial Committee of the House of Lords from the legislative functions of the House of Lords should be made explicit. The paper noted the following concerns: Whether there was any longer sufficient transparency of independence from the executive and the legislature to give assurance of the independence of the judiciary; the requirement for the appearance of impartiality and independence limited the ability of the Law Lords to contribute to the work of the House itself, thus reducing the value to both them and the House of their membership. It was not always understood by the public that judicial decisions of "the House of Lords" were in fact taken by the Judicial Committee and that non-judicial members were never involved in the judgments. Conversely, it was felt that the extent to which the Law Lords themselves had decided to refrain from getting involved in political issues in relation to legislation on which they might have had to adjudicate was not always appreciated.
The new President of the Court, Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers, has claimed that the old system had confused people and that with the Supreme Court there would for the first time be a clear separation of powers among the judiciary, the legislature and the executive. Space within the House of Lords was at a constant premium and a separate supreme court would ease the pressure on the Palace of Westminster; the main argument against a new Supreme Court was that the previous system had worked well and kept costs down. Reformers expressed concern that this second main example of a mixture of the legislative and executive might conflict with professed values under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Officials who make or execute laws have an interest in court cases; when the state invests judicial authority in those officials or their day-to-day colleagues, it puts the independence and impartiality of the courts at risk. It was hypothesised connected decisions of the Law Lords to debates had by friends or on which the Lord Chancellor had expressed a view might be challenged on Human Rights grounds on the basis that they had not constituted a fair trial.
Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury President of the Supreme Court, expressed fear that the new court could make itself more powerful than the House of Lords committee it succeeded, saying that there is a real risk of "judges arrogating to themselves greater power than they have at the moment". Lord Phillips said such an outcome was "a possibility", but was "unlikely"; the reforms were controversial and were brought forward with little consultation but were subsequently extensively debated in Parliament. During 2004, a select committee of the House of Lords scrutinised the arguments for and against setting up a new court; the Government estimated the set-up cost of the Supreme Court at £56.9 million. As authorised by the Constitutional Reform Act 2005, Part 3, Section 23 and s. 23, the Supreme Court was formally established on 1 October 2009. It assumed the judicial functions of the House of Lords, exercised by the Lords of Appeal in Ordinary, the 12 professional judges appointed as members of the House of Lords to carry out its judicial business.
Its jurisdiction over devolution matters had been exercised
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
House of Commons of the United Kingdom
The House of Commons is the lower house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. 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. Owing to shortage of space, its office accommodation extends into Portcullis House; the Commons is an elected body consisting of 650 members known as Members of Parliament. Members are elected to represent constituencies by the first-past-the-post system and hold their seats until Parliament is dissolved; the House of Commons of England started to evolve in 14th centuries. It became the House of Commons of Great Britain after the political union with Scotland in 1707, assumed the title of "House of Commons of Great Britain and Ireland" after the political union with Ireland at the start of the 19th century; the "United Kingdom" referred to was the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 1800, became the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland after the independence of the Irish Free State in 1922.
Accordingly, the House of Commons assumed its current title. Under the Parliament Act 1911, the Lords' power to reject legislation was reduced to a delaying power; the Government is responsible to the House of Commons and the Prime Minister stays in office only as long as she or he retains the confidence of a majority of the Commons. 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, must maintain the support of, the House of Commons. Thus, whenever the office of prime minister falls vacant, the Sovereign appoints the person who has the support of the House, or, most to command the support of the House—normally the leader of the largest party in the Commons, while the leader of the second-largest party becomes the Leader of the Opposition. Since 1963, by convention, the prime minister is always a member of the House of Commons, rather than the House of Lords.
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 phrased explicitly, for instance: "That this House has no confidence in Her Majesty's Government." Many other motions were until recent decades considered confidence issues though not explicitly phrased as such: in particular, important bills that were part of the Government's agenda. The annual Budget is still considered a matter of confidence; when a Government has lost the confidence of the House of Commons, the prime minister is obliged either to resign, making way for another MP who can command confidence, or to request the monarch to dissolve Parliament, thereby precipitating a general election. Parliament sits for a maximum term of five years. Subject to that limit, the prime minister could choose the timing of the dissolution of parliament, with the permission of the Monarch. However, since the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act 2011, terms are now a fixed five years, an early general election is brought about by a two-thirds majority in favour of a motion for a dissolution, or by a vote of no confidence, not followed within fourteen days by a vote of confidence.
By this second mechanism, the UK's government can change its political composition without an intervening general election. Only four of the eight last Prime Ministers have attained office as the immediate result of a general election; the latter four were Jim Callaghan, John Major, Gordon Brown and the current Prime Minister Theresa May. In such circumstances there may not have been an internal party leadership election, as the new leader may be chosen by acclaim, having no electoral rival. A prime minister will resign after party defeat at an election if unable to lead a coalition, or obtain a confidence and supply arrangement, she or he may resign after a motion of no confidence or for health reasons. In such cases, the premiership goes to, it has become the practice to write the constitution of major UK political parties to provide a set way in which to appoint a new leader. Until 1965, the Conservative Party had no fixed mechanism for this, it fell to the Queen to appoint Harold Macmillan as the new prime minister, after taking the consensus of cabinet ministers.
By convention, ministers are members of the House of House of Lords. A handful have been appointed who were outside Parliament, but in most cases they entered Parliament in a by-election or by receiving a peerage. Exceptions include Peter Mandelson, appointed Secretary of State for Business and Regulatory Reform in October 2008 before his peerage. Since 1902, all prime ministers have been members of the Commons; the new session of Parliament was delayed to await the outcome of his by-election, which happened
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