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The British Government

The UK is a constitutional monarchy. This means that it has a monarch (a king or a queen) as its Head of State. Everything today is done in the Queen's name. It is her government, her armed forces and so on. She appoints all the Ministers, including the Prime Minister. But in fact, the Queen has no real power and takes no part in the decision-making process. The Queen of Great Britain is also the Head of the Commonwealth (an association of former members or colonies of the British Empire), and so the Queen of Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland.

Real power in Great Britain belongs to the Parliament. The British Parliament consists of the House of Lords and the House of Commons, and the Queen as its Head.

The House of Commons plays the major role in law-making. It consists of 650 Members of Parliament (MPs). Every MP represents an area in England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. Parliamentary elections are held every five years. The minimum voting age is 18. The political parties choose candidates in elections. The party which wins the majority of seats forms the Government. Its leader becomes Prime Minister. The Prime Minister chooses 20 MPs from his/her party. They form the Cabinet of Ministers. The second largest party becomes the official opposition with its own leader and "Shadow cabinet".

The other House of Parliament is the House of Lords. The House of Lords has more than 1000 members. The House consists of those lords who sit by the right of inheritance. Members of the House of Lords are not elected. They sit there because of their rank. The chairman of the House of Lords is the Lord Chancellor.

The main political parties in Great Britain are the Conservative, Party of Liberal Democrats and the Labour Party. Only two major parties get seats in the House of Commons. People from smaller political parties join one of the larger parties and work from within.

The Conservative Party (the Tories) is a party of middle and upper classes, of monopolists and landowners. The party is for private business.

The Labour Party (formed in 1900) was founded by the Trades Unions. It supports the interests of the working class.

9~. Pronunciation

How are the underlined letters in these pairs of words pronounced? Practise saying the words.

1) mean — real — head; 2) monarchy — chancellor; 3) within — everything; 4) upper — union; 5) opposition — consist.

Word Study

A. Find international words in the text and write them out. Learn
their correct pronunciation.

B. Write out the proper names used in the text (mind the articles)
and transcribe them.

С Give Russian equivalents to the following word combinations:

a constitutional monarchy; to be done in the Queen's name; to appoint all the Ministers; in fact; a decision-making process; law­making; the minimum voting age; to win the majority of seats; to sit by the right of inheritance; to work from within; to be for private business; to support the interests of; to be founded by the Trades Unions.

D. Supply the sentences with required verbs, if necessary, change their grammatical forms.


appoint inherit belong join vote found hold support ride form

1. Queen Victoria ... England for 64 years. 2. The bill was ... by a large majority in the Senate. 3. The members of the House of Commons ... to different political parties. 4. He ... the business from his father. 5. It is only possible to ... at the polling station appropriate to one's address. 6. She wants to ... the party. 7. Mr. Hartley has been ... managing director of the new division. 8. The presidential election was ... on April 26. 9. The Conservative Party of Great Britain was ... in 1867. Political groups of the English landed aristocracy ... its basis.

Grammar Focus

A. Mind the difference between the word forms.


  find — found — found(найти)
found - - founded — founded(основывать; учреждать)

В. Complete the gaps with suitable forms of either "find" or "found". Translate the sentences.

1. The Liberal Party of Great Britain was ... in 1832, though it was finally organized in 1877. 2. He ... it almost impossible to express what he wanted to say. 3. Lough Neagh, the largest body of water in the British Isles, can be ... in Northern Ireland. 4. The study in 2006 ... that at least 5.5 million British-born people live abroad. 5. No-one has ... a solution to this problem. 6. I ... I was really looking forward to going back to work. 7. The society was ... on the belief that all men were equal. 8. One should always ... one's opinion on facts.

Diving Deeper

Give detailed answers to the following questions.

1. What power does the Queen have in the country? 2. What is the Commonwealth? Who heads it? 3. Whom does real power in the country belong to? 4. What two chambers does the Parliament consist of? 5. How important is the House of Commons? 6. What is its structure? 7. How does one become a member of the House of Lords? 8. What is the structure of the House of Lords? 9. What are the tree main political parties in Great Britain? 10. What two major parties have now seats in the House of Commons? 11. Whom do the Conservative and the Labour Parties support?


In pairs, tell each other what you think is important to know about:

• the Queen;

• the House of Commons;

• the House of Lords;

• British parties.

General Comprehension

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