UNIT 4. The British Parliament and Constitutional Monarchy (2014)Apunte Inglés
Apuntes elaborados a partir de las clases de Marta Bosch.
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THE BRITISH PARLIAMENT AND CONSTITUTIONAL MONARCHY
ORIGINS OF PARLIAMENT
The most similar thing to a Parliament that had existed in the British Isles was the Saxon
Witan (Council of the Wise).
Then, the Norman arrived in 1066 and the Witan was changed to the Norman Great Council which was made of barons. The King got more power and this council, less.
The little power in comparison with the King and personal advisers, the Great Council was not too powerful.
There were Baronial claims: a) King John and Magna Carta (1215). The King signed it. There were demand and complains from the Great Council to the King. It had 63 points.
b) King John was succeeded by his son, Henry III. The barons decided to write another document called the Provisions of Oxford (1258), a list of complaints and demands. In this document was the 1st time that the term “Parliament” was used. The Council of 15.
Henry III decided not to follow what the Provisions of Oxford said. Then, there was a war between Henry III and the Barons, who won the war. He continued as King but a Parliament was created.
c) Henry III was succeeded by Edward I and The Model Parliament (1295): It represented the three states of the Government: clergy, nobility and the Commons. The Commons had a speaker to explain what they had decided to the King, and this figure exists nowadays yet. It starts in the mid-14th century.
From 1547, the Commons have a permanent Hall.
Confrontation of Crown and Parliament In 1642 there was the Civil War between Royalists and Parliamentarians. The royalists wanted Charles I, the King (son of James VI).
There was the execution of Charles I and there was the abolition of Monarchy and the creation (?) of House of Lords (1649).
Oliver Cromwell was like the head of the country. When he won, there was a part of the Parliament that wanted a king. When Oliver Cromwell convinced these members, he convinced the rest that the best was to have a Monarchy. So, in 1660, there was the Restoration of the monarchy by invitation of Parliament, with Charles II. He know he was there thanks to the Parliament and he didn’t do as his father did, Charles I (a despotic king). Now, he had good relationship with Parliament and people could decide the religion that they want.
But, he died without direct succession. He had one illegitimal son (The Duke of Monmouth) and a brother (James, the Duke of York). Some people wanted the son to be king (called Whigs) and others supported his brother (called Tories). These terms are still used nowadays.
The brother was chosen (Tories). He became king: James II of England and VII of Scotland. He was deposed in the Glorious Revolution (1688). Mary & William of Orange were crowned and the supporters of James II-VII and his descendants were called Jacobites. The Jacobite cause was defeated.
Consolidation of the Constitutional Monarchy *The system of the Government was divided into monarchy, parliament and constitution.
The Bill of Rights (1689) was the basis of the Constitutional Monarchy in the United Kingdom. It was an agreement between Mary and William of Orange and the Parliament.
a) There would be Royal succession but Catholics would be excluded.
b) The Sovereign (kings) cannot suspend or dispense with laws.
c) Parliament’s control of taxation was reaffirmed.
d) The Members of the Parliament (MP) were freedom of speech.
There were also other issues.
There was not a Constitution, just different laws that had a constitutional authority. There was no book as a Constitution. It’s said that UK has an unwritten Constitution.
In the 20th century there was a movement if favour of Women. They could vote.
1918: to women 30 or above / 1928: 21 or above / 1958: allowed to sit in the House of Lords / 1969: voting age reduced to 18 / 1979: Margaret Thatcher was elected first female Prime Minister.
3 Constituent Parts of the UK Parliament - Two chambers: House of Commons and House of Lords The Crown Without anyone of these, the Parliament can’t work.
House of Commons There is most of the power. The Members of the Parliament (MPs) hold most of their debates in the House of Commons Chamber. They are elected.
UK has over 659 constituencies (parts of a region). They are agreed by simple majority. If it’s 10-9-9, wins the 10 and the other can’t be joined.
Then, the House of Commons has a speaker, who controls proceedings, and sits on a raised chair at one end of the Chamber with the government party to the right and the opposition to the left.
Government ministers and those speaking for the official opposition sit on the benches either side of the table in front of the Speaker and are called frontbenchers.
MPs who are not ministers or opposition spokespersons are called backbenchers.
Although there are 659 MPs, there are only seat for 427 and the rest has to be stand.
They are in charged of creating laws which are called Bills. They vote aye or no for bills. Then, the Bill goes to the House of Lord which changes something a bit and, then, to the Crown.
The House of Lords It’s not elected. It has 1390 members which are called peers, and there’s only seat for 250.
Historically, the charges were hesitated.
There are no members of the Church.
The Queen can never enter to the House of Commons but she can enter to the House of Lords.
At one end the Chamber is the Throne from which the Queen speaks (she says what they will do that year) to both Houses at the State opening of Parliament*.
*State Opening of Parliament - The MPs head to the House of Lords – no monarch is allowed to enter the Commons.
- Traditionally, they dawdle and are boisterous in protest that the Lords is still the senior chamber.
- After the Lords are seated and the MPs are stood in position at the bar of the Lords, the Lord Chancellor hands the Queen her speech**.
**The Speech - Officially called the Royal Address, the speech is written by the government and sets out its aims for the forthcoming Parliamentary session.
- The Queen refers throughout to “My Government”.
- The words “Other measure will be laid before you” give the government flexibility to introduce other legislation if necessary.
In the afternoon, each House meets separately to begin debating the contents of the speech; and a new session is under way.
Historic and important buildings - Palace of Westminster or Houses of Parliament (Commons and Lords) Westminster Abbey. The Abbey has been the venue for almost every Coronation since 1066.
10 Downing Street. It is the very heart of the British Government. It is the residence and office of the “First Lord of the Treasury”, a title traditionally held by the Prime Minster.
Buckingham Palace. It has served as the official London residence of Britain’s sovereigns since 1837.
Whitehall Current Prime Minister: David Cameron ...