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Licence en droit - L1

Anglais juridique
semestre 1
Document établi par Marie-Christine Mouton,
PRAG à l’Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne
AVERTISSEMENT

Le présent fascicule, établi par les enseignants du Centre Audiovisuel d’Études


Juridiques des Universités de Paris (CAVEJ), est un document de travail qui se
substitue au plan de cours et aux fiches de travaux dirigés distribués aux étudiants
qui suivent le régime présentiel. Ici, ces fiches ont été réunies en un seul document
pour en faciliter la consultation.

Outre les conseils de méthode et indications bibliographiques, ce fascicule contient


le matériel pédagogique utile à l’étudiant (extraits d’articles de doctrine, textes légaux
et réglementaires, jurisprudence), qui devra en prendre une connaissance directe.

Ce document vient à l’appui des cours audio MP3.

L’enseignement dispensé repose principalement sur l’écoute de ces cours audio.


Ceux-ci sont comparables à l’enseignement magistral dispensé à la Faculté, avec
toutefois pour l’étudiant un avantage appréciable : il peut les écouter plusieurs fois, à
son rythme, en fonction de son emploi du temps et où qu’il soit. Il se familiarisera
ainsi avec les données fondamentales de la matière, ainsi qu’avec le vocabulaire et
le raisonnement juridiques.

Ces cours audio doivent être utilisés comme le serait un cours magistral : l’étudiant
doit prendre des notes. Cet exercice est indispensable à l’acquisition des
connaissances et à une compréhension approfondie de la matière. Comme tout
étudiant en droit, l’étudiant inscrit au CAVEJ devra se procurer les codes et manuels
conseillés.

Certaines disciplines font également l’objet de cours en ligne, accessibles sur la


plate-forme d’enseignement numérique (https://cours-cavej.univ-paris1.fr) et
téléchargeables.

Comme vous le savez, le CAVEJ s’efforce de placer les étudiants dans une situation
aussi proche que possible que celle des étudiants du régime présentiel, afin de leur
donner, à travail égal, des chances égales lors de l’examen.

Le directeur et l’équipe pédagogique du CAVEJ














Anglais


Document de travail




Licence 1 en droit
L1 S1





















Document établi par Marie-Christine MOUTON
PRAG à l’Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne
Centre Audiovisuel d’Études Juridiques des Université de Paris

Utilisation du fascicule d’anglais

Ce fascicule est conçu comme un document complémentaire des enregistrements sur CD.
Il ne peut en aucun cas remplacer ces enregistrements qui constituent la base de travail
en vue de l’examen final.

Correspondant à chacun des 10 thèmes choisis pour les enregistrements, chaque chapitre de
ce fascicule présente
. un bref rappel des points principaux abordés dans l’enregistrement
correspondant
. une série de questions du type de celles susceptibles d’être posées à
l’examen oral final
A noter que les quelques questions données en exemple ne constituent
précisément que des exemples. Cette liste des questions n’est donc pas
exhaustive.
. des lectures complémentaires, principalement des articles de la presse
anglo-saxonne, illustrant un ou plusieurs point(s)abordé(s) dans les CD. Ils
peuvent être suivis de questions visant à mettre l'accent sur les aspects les plus
importants du texte : vocabulaire, concepts. Certains de ces articles seront à
préparer pour les 3 regroupements prévus en novembre et décembre 2017.
Reportez-vous aux bulletins de liaison.
. un glossaire de termes essentiels, pages 64-69
J'attire votre attention sur la Conférence n°10 : cette conférence a pour but de mettre à jour
un certain nombre de connaissances évoquées dans les 9 premiers enregistrements, de manière
à relier les connaissances théoriques apportées dans les enregistremenrts à l'actualité politique
britannique et de vérifier le fonctionnement des institutions politiques en temps réel. Les
thémes choisis pour la Conférence 10 sont donc mis à jour chaque année.
J'insiste aussi sur l'efficacité d'assister, pour ceux d'entre vous qui le peuvent, aux 3
regroupements d'anglais qui auront lieu en novembre et décembre 2017. A défaut d'y
assister, consultez les bulletins de liaison qui permettent de prendre connaissance de ce qui a
été présenté lors de ces regroupements, ainsi que du bulletin de liaison 'Spécial Révisions'
qui contient quelques conseils utiles afin de préparer l'examen.

Modalités du contrôle des connaissances


Un seul examen oral sanctionne l’acquisition des connaissances en anglais. Le but de cet
examen est double : il doit permettre de vérifier le degré de maîtrise de la langue anglaise, tant
du point de vue grammatical que lexical, ainsi que l’acquisition de connaissances précises sur
le fonctionnement des institutions britanniques décrites dans les enregistrements.

Cet examen est oral, à la première session, comme, le cas échéant, à la session de
rattrapage.
Epreuves anticipées de février 2018 - à noter que l'anglais, en tant que matière du premier
semestre, fait partie des matières susceptibles d'être passées lors de la série d'épreuves
anticipées qui auront lieu en février 2018. Le passage des épreuves anticipées est obligatoire
pour les étudiants boursiers, optionnelle pour les non-boursiers.

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Cet examen oral consistera en des questions sur les différents thèmes abordés dans les
enregistrements. Une première question assez générale, tirée au sort, sera posée, puis, au
cours de l'oral, d’autres questions plus ponctuelles suivront, visant à vérifier des
connaissances précises, tant du point de vue du contenu que du vocabulaire. Un bonus sera
accordé aux étudiants qui feront référence à des éléments de l’actualité politique au Royaume
Uni.
Toutes les questions visent à vérifier la compréhension d’ensemble du fonctionnement des
institutions britanniques par le candidat, ainsi que sa connaissance ponctuelle de la
terminologie et des concepts propres aux institutions britanniques.
Cet oral se passe sans temps de préparation.
La durée de l’examen oral est de 10 minutes par candidat.

Recommandation
Je ne saurais trop insister sur la nécessité absolue de travailler les enregistrements audio-
oraux, la ré-écoute régulière permettant à tous de progresser en anglais, et en anglais oral en
particulier, en fonction de son niveau. Ces enregistrements ont été conçus dans le but de
présenter les aspects essentiels des institutions politiques britanniques en vous initiant au
vocabulaire spécifique à cette étude.

Bibliographie
Vous pouvez trouver dans les manuels suivants des informations complémentaires pour vous
aider à mieux comprendre ou à approfondir un thème abordé dans les enregistrements.
Toutefois, aucun de ces manuels ne correspond exactement au contenu des CD – donc la
consultation de ces manuels doit être considérée comme une aide mais ne doit pas se
substituer à l’écoute des enregistrements.

G. Blamut & A. Paquette, Les clés de la civilisation britannique, Ellipses 2000.


Date un peu, mais contient l'essentiel, en anglais.

Vernon Bogdanor, The New British Constitution, Hart Pubishing, Oxford-Oregon, 2009
Ouvrage de réflexion par un spécialiste des questions constitutionnelles au Royaume
Uni.

Henri Pictor, A handbook of British Civilization, Ellipses 2000.


Ouvrage en anglais. Date un peu, mais contient l'essentiel.

Peter John et de Pierre Lurbe, Civilisation britannique, Hachette Supérieur, 6ème édition
actualisée 2006.
Ouvrage en anglais. Descriptif et analytique, très complet et très intéressant.

David Judge, Political Institutions in the United Kingdom, Oxford University Press, 2005.
Ouvrage en anglais, point de vue très britannique, à consulter en bibliothèque.

Dennis Kavanagh, D. Richards, M. Smith, A. Geddes, British Politics, Oxford Uuniversity


Press, 2006
Ouvrage en anglais, très complet, à consulter en bibliothèque

Robert Leach, Bill Coxall, & Lynton Robins, British Politics, Palgrave Foundations, 2006.
Ouvrage très complet, à consulter en bibliothèque.

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Centre Audiovisuel d’Études Juridiques des Université de Paris

Peter Leyland, The Constitution of the United Kingdom, Hart Pubishing, Oxford-Oregon,
2007
Ouvrage en anglais, point de vue très britannique, à consulter en bibliothèque.

Bruce F. Norton, Politics in Britain, CQPress, 2007.


Ouvrage américain, perspective anglo-américaine.

Sarah Pickard, Civilisation britannique, Pocket, Langues pour Tous, 5ème édition mise à jour
2010.
Ouvrage bilingue, essentiellement descriptif. Ne pas céder à la tentation de ne lire que
la partie en français.

C. Turpin & A. Tomkins, British government and the Constitution, 7th ed., Cambridge
UniversityPress, 2011

Le contenu des enregistrements fait référence, autant que faire se peut, au fonctionnement
récent et actuel de la vie politique britannique, et l'enregistrement n°10 porte sur les thèmes
d'actualité de l'année 2016/2017. Donc il est également indispensable de vous tenir au courant
de l'actualité britannique à travers les médias de langue anglaise. Un bonus sera accordé aux
étudiants qui feront référence à des événements de l’actualité britannique de l’année en cours
(septembre 2017 - mai 2018)

D’autre part, un certain nombre de sites Internet officiels - tels que Number10.gov.uk,
www.parliament.uk, www.royal.gov.uk, et bien d'autres dont les adresses sont
communiquées dans les chapitres correspondants - vous donnent accès à des compléments
d’information et vous permettent de compléter le contenu des enregistrements, voire de les
actualiser.

Remise à niveau en anglais


De nombreux ouvrages existent dont le but est de vous permettre de reprendre quelques règles
d'expression de base. Il en existe, entre autres. dans les éditions suivantes :
. Livre de poche, Améliorez votre anglais, C. Caillate, J. Vince, M. O'Neil.
. Pocket, plusieurs titres
. Studyrama, Réviser son anglais, J. Hathaway, C. Pinet-Fernandes, & F. Savary.
Si vous disposez d'un peu de temps pour reprendre des cours, ne vous laissez pas tenter par les
écoles de langues qui font beaucoup de publicité, mais dont les cours sont très onéreux pour
une efficacité douteuse. Renseignez-vous auprès de la mairie de votre lieu de résidence, qui
organise peut-être des cours de remise à niveau en anglais, de prix modique et souvent
d'excellente qualité.

Adresse email à laquelle vous pouvez me joindre :

marie-christine.mouton@univ-paris1.fr
mis à jour : avril 2017

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Centre Audiovisuel d’Études Juridiques des Université de Paris

LECTURE 1 A brief historical and terminological introduction

Key points
. Composition of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland → brief
historical survey of the 4 nations : England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland and of the
Acts of Union
. The Union Jack, symbol of the union of the four nations
. An established religion : the Church of England
. Kings and Queens whose reigns were marked by key historic events: William the
Conqueror, John Lackland, Henry VIII, Elisabeth I, Oliver Cromwell, William of Orange,
Queen Victoria
. Places associated with British political institutions : Buckingham Palace, 10 Downing
Street, Westminster,Whitehall

General questions*
. Is the United Kingdom a unitary or a federal state ?
. What’s the difference between the following territories : England, Great Britain, the United
Kingdom ?
. The various Acts of Union
. The composition of the Union Jack
. Religion in the United Kingdom
. The monarchs who played a major role in the history of the United Kingdom
. Henry VIII - main reforms and achievements
. Reforms under Queen Victoria
. Places of political power in London

Questions requiring brief answers*


. Where does the name 'England' come from ?
. How do you call the inhabitants of Wales ? the inhabitants of Scotland ?
. In which year was Great Britain formed ?
. When and why was Ireland divided into two parts ?
. What is an ' Act of Union' ?
. What is the familiar name given to the National Flag in the United Kingdom ?
. What is the English equivalent of the French 'religion d'état' ?
. What is the name of the established religion in the UK ?
. Why was William I nicknamed 'the Conqueror' ?
. Why was King Kohn nicknamed 'Lackland' ?
. What name was given to the period of time in the 17th century when monarchy in Great
Britain was abolished ?
. In which part of London is the British Parliament located ?

* NB - As explained in the introductory pages these 'general questions' are the types of
questions that may be asked as the main question at the oral examination. 'Question requiring
brief answers' may be asked additionally, to check specific knowledge about facts or
vocabulary. The two lists are NOT exhaustive.
last updated : April 2017

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Centre Audiovisuel d’Études Juridiques des Université de Paris

Key Dates in British History


extracted from Britain 2001, The Official Yearbook of the United Kingdom , The Stationery Office, 2000
55 and 54 BC : Julius Caesar’s expeditions to Britain
AD 43 : Roman conquest begins under Claudius
122-38 : Hadrian’s Wall built
c.409 : Roman army withdraws from Britain
450s onwards : foundation of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms
597 : arrival of St Augustine to preach Christianity to the Anglo-Saxons
664 : Synod of Whitby opts for Roman Catholic rather than Celtic church
789-95 : first Viking raids
832-60 : Scots and Picts merge under Kenneth Macalpin to form what is to become the kingdom of Scotland
860s : Danes overrun East Anglia, Northumbria and eastern Mercia
871-99 : reign of Alfred the Great in Wessex
1066 : William the Conqueror defeats Harold Godwinson at Hastings and takes the throne
1086 : Domesday Book completed : a survey of English landholdings undertaken on the order of William I
c.1136-39 : Geoffrey Monmouth completes The History of the Kings of Britain
1215 : King John signs Magna Carta to protect feudal rights against royal abuse
13th century : first Oxford and Cambridge colleges founded
1301 : Edward of Caernarvon (later Edward II) created Prince of Wales
1314 : Battle of Bannockburn ensures survival of separate Scottish kingdom
1337 : Hundred Years War between England and France begins
1348-49 : Black Death (bubonic plague) wipes out a third of England’s population
1381 : Peasants’Revolt in England, the most significant popular rebellion in English history
c.1387-c1394 : Geoffrey Chaucer writes The Canterbury Tales
1400-c.1406 : Owain Glyndwr (Owen Glendower) leads the last major Welsh revolt against English rule
1411 : St Andrews University founded, the first university in Scotland
1455-87 : Wars of the Roses between Yorkists and Lancastrians
1477 : first book to be printed in England, by William Caxton
1534-40 : English Reformation ; Henry VIII breaks with the Papacy
1536-42 : Acts of Union integrate England and Wales administratively and legally and give Wales representation
in Parliament
1547-53 : Protestantism becomes official religion in England under Edward VI
1553-58 : Catholic reaction under Mary I
1558 : loss of Calais, last English possession in France
1588 : defeat of Spanish Armada
1558-1603 : reign of Elizabeth I ; moderate Protestantism established
c.1590-c.1613 : plays of Shakespeare written
1603 : union of the crowns of Scotland and England under James VI of Scotland
1642-51 : Civil Wars between King and Parliament
1649 : execution of Charles I
1653-58 : Oliver Cromwell rules as Lord Protector
1660 : monarchy restored under Charles II
1660 : founding of the Royal Society for the Promotion of Natural Knowledge
1663 : John Milton finishes Paradise Lost
1665 : the Great Plague, the last major epidemic of plague in England
1666 : the Great Fire of London
1686 : Isaac Newton sets out his laws of motion and the idea of universal gravitation
1688 : Glorious Revolution ; accession of William and Mary
1707 : Acts of Union unite the English and Scottish Parliaments
1721-42 : Robert Walpole, first British Prime Minister
1745-46 : Bonnie Prince Charlie’s failed attempt to retake the British throne for the Stuarts
c.1760s-c.1830s : Industrial Revolution
1761 : opening of the Bridgewater Canal ushers in Canal Age
1775-83 : American War of Independence leads to loss of the Thirteen Colonies
1801 : Act of Union unites Great Britain and Ireland
1805 : Battle of Trafalgar, the decisive naval battle of the Napoleonic Wars
1815 : Battle of Waterloo, the final defeat of Napoleon
1825 : opening of the Stockton and Darlington Railway, the world’s first passenger railway
1829 : Catholic emancipation

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Centre Audiovisuel d’Études Juridiques des Université de Paris

1832 : first Reform Act extends the franchise, increasing the number of those entitled to vote by about 50 per
cent
1833 : abolition of slavery in the British Empire, the slave trade having been abolished in 1807
1836-70 : Charles Dickens writes his novels
1837-1901 : reign of Queen Victoria
1859 : Charles Darwin publishes On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection
1868 : founding of the Trades Union Congress (TUC)
1907 : Henry Royce and C.S. Rolls build and sell their first Rolls-Royce (the Silver Ghost)
1910-36 : during the reign of George V, the British Empire reaches its territorial zenith
1914-18 : First World War
1918 : the vote given to women over 30
1921 : Anglo-Irish Treaty establishes the Irish Free State ; Northern Ireland remains part of the United Kingdom
1926 : John Logie Baird gives the first practical demonstration of television
1928 : voting age for women reduced to 21, on equal terms with men
1928 : Alexander Fleming discovers penicillin
1936 : Jarrow Crusade, the most famous of the hunger marches in the 1930s
1939-45 : Second World War
1943 : Max Newman, Donald Michie, Tommy Flowers and Alan Turing build the first electronic computer,
Colossus I, which was used in the Second World War
1947 : independence for India and Pakistan : Britain begins to dismantle its imperial structure
1948 : the National Health Service comes into operation, offering free medical care to the whole population
1952 : accession of Elizabeth II
1953 : Francis Crick and his colleague James Watson of the United States discover the stucture of DNA
1965 : first commercial natural gas discovery in the North Sea
1969 : first notable discovery of offshore oil in the North Sea
1973 : the UK enters the European Community (now the European Union)
1979-90 : Margaret Thatcher, the UK’s first woman Prime Minister
1994 : Channel Tunnel opened to rail traffic
1997 : General Election : the Labour Party returns to power with its largest ever parliamentary majority
1999 : Scottish Parliament, National Assembly for Wales, and Northern Ireland Assembly assume their devolved
powers
2001 : General election : Labour wins again general election and Tony Blair starts second term as prime minister
2005 : General election – Labour wins for the third time in a row
2007 : Tony Blair resigns from his position as Prime Minister and from Labour leadership. Gordon Brown
becomes the new Labour leader and the UK’s Prime Minister
2010 : General election – Coalition government formed between the Conservatives and the Liberal-Democrats as
no party obtains the overall majority in Parliament. David Cameron appointed Prime Minister, Nick Clegg
deputy prime minister
2014 : Scottish Independence Referendum – the no-votes won by a majority of 55.3 %
2015 : First general election to be held according to the rules of the Fixed Term Parliaments Act 2011. The
Conservatives won an overall majority : David Cameron was renewed as prime minister and formed an all-Tory
government.
2016 : EU referendum held on June 23. The question was whether the United Kingdom should remain in, or
leave, the European Union. The ‘Noes’ to the UK remaining in the EU won with 51.9% of the votes.

last updated : April 2017

Attention ! les informations contenues dans ce tableau sont données dans une langue elliptique : certains
formes verbales sont tronquées, des articles n’apparaissent pas. En outre, les informations sont données au
temps du présent, alors que dans le langage courant, le past simple/prétérit est systématiquement utilisé pour
évoquer des faits s’étant déroulés dans le passé.

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Centre Audiovisuel d’Études Juridiques des Université de Paris

The structure of the United Kingdom


adapted from Colin Turpin, British Government and the Constitution, 5th edition, 2002

The United Kingdom has a unitary constitution like that of France, and unlike that of the United States of
America. Yet the United Kingdom is a multi-national state in which the inhabitants of Scotland, Wales and
Northern Ireland identify themselves not only as «British» but also – indeed often exclusively – as Scots, Welsh,
Ulstermen, or Irish. In law there is , however, a single British citizenship for all those sufficiently connected by
birth or descent with the United Kingdom.

England is the largest of the four countries of the United Kingdom, and its population of 49,997,000 (estimate
for mid-2000 : (2002) 107 Population Trends) is 84 per cent of the total United Kingdom population of
59,756,000. While there are no significant nationalist or separatist political movements in England, there are
differences associated with particular regions, and differences both cultural and linguistic among the ethnic
minority populations of English cities.
England has 529 out of the 659 seats in the House of Commons, and is under-represented in comparison with the
rest of the United Kingdom : if average constituency electorates were equal throughout the United Kingdom,
England would have 549 seats.
In the central government of the United Kingdom there is no separate department for England like the
«territorial» departments for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, but the work of several departments – in
particular, Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Health, Transport, Education and skills- is predominantly
concerned with the affairs of England because the corresponding functions in the other countries of the United
Kingdom are largely devolved or discharged by the territorial departments.

Scotland covers about a third of the area of the United Kingdom and has a population of 5,115,000 (estimate for
mid-2000 : (2002) 107 Population Trends) or about 9 per cent of the total United Kingdom population.
Scotland and England, under the same Crown from 1603 but with separate institutions of government, were
joined in the United Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707 by the Treaty and Acts of Union. In terms of these
instruments the two Parliaments were superseded by a Parliament of Great Britain- «a new Parliament for a new
State». This was to be a unitary, not a federal state.
In entering the Union the Scots were concerned to ensure , as far as they could, that certain of their rights and
institutions should not be at risk from a Parliament in which English members would be in a majority. The Union
legislation accordingly declared, as a «fundamental and essential condition» of the union, that the Presbyterian
religion and Church of Scotland should «remain and continue unalterable» in Scotland, and affirmed that the
Scottish superior courts should remain with their authority and privileges.
After the Union of 1707 the Scottish administration was absorbed into an administration of Great Britain centred
in London. A new system of administration was instituted in 1885 when a Secretary for Scotland was appointed
as ministerial head of a Scottish Office in Whitehall. Except in the war years, the Secretary of State for Scotland
always had a seat in the Cabinet
The devolution settlement for Scotland rests upon the provisions of the Scotland Act 1998. The Act put the union
of Scotland with the rest of the United Kingdom on a new basis, devolving primary legislative power and
administrative responsibilities to newly created institutions in Scotland. The Scotland Act established a
unicameral, law-making Scottish Parliament and a Scottish administration consisting of a Firts Minister,
ministers and their civil service staff.

Wales is about one twelfth the size of the United Kingdom and has a population of 2,946,000 (estimate for mid-
2000 : (2002) 107 Population Trends) or about 5 per cent of the total United Kingdom population. Wales came
under the rule of the English Crown in the thirteenth century. There was no treaty of union, then or later,
between the two countries, and the Act of Union of 1536 was a unilateral Act of the English Parliament,
extending the English administrative system to Wales and providing for Welsh representation in Parliament. A
Secretaryship of Wales was created by the Wilson Government in 1964, and since then there has been a
Secretary of State for Wales, with a seat in the Cabinet, in charge of the Welsh Office, now named the Wales
Office.
Wales is guaranteed a minimum of 35 seats in the House of Commons and has at present 40. Like Scotland,
Wales is over-represented in the House of Commons on the basis of its electorate, which would strictly entitle it
to no more than 33 seats.
The devolution settlement for Wales, unlike that for Scotland, is a scheme of executive devolution : no powers of
primary law-making or of taxation are devolved. The essential purpose of the Government of Wales Act was to
place the existing Welsh administration and its non-departmental public bodies under the control of an elected
Welsh Assembly. The Act established an Assembly for Wales «to be known as the National Assembly for Wales
or "Cynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru". Like the Scottish Parliament the Assembly is a unicameral body.

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Centre Audiovisuel d’Études Juridiques des Université de Paris

Northern Ireland, a land of 5,000 square miles, has a population of 1,698,000 (estimate for mid-2000 : (2002)
107 Population Trends) or less than 3 per cent of the total United Kingdom population.
Ruled+
, if not entirely controlled, by the English Crown since the twelfth century, all Ireland was united with Great
Britain by Acts of Union of the British and Irish Parliaments in 1800. The Acts of Union ended the life of the
Irish Parliament and transferred its authority to a Parliament of the United Kingdom, which was to include Irish
members.
After the Irish Church was disestablished as a result of the Irish Church Act 1869, the Acts of Union were
abrogated in 1921-2 when the Irish Free State was separated from the United Kingdom as a free dominion within
the Commonwealth. The six counties of the north-east remained within the United Kingdom, with their own
Parliament and government in Belfast : the constitution of Northern Ireland established by the Government of
Ireland Act 1920 endured until 1971. Yet the deepening crisis elicited increasing involvement by the United
Kingdom Government in the affairs of Northern Ireland, and finally in March 1972 direct rule from Whitehall
was imposed on the province. By the Northern Ireland (Temporary Provisions) Act 1972 the Parliament of
Northern Ireland was prorogued and the powers of the Northern Ireland Government were transferred to a
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. Eventually the Belfast Agreement, or Good Friday Agreement was
reached on 10 April 1998 : it set out the arrangements for the devolution of legislative and executive powers to
an elected Northern Ireland Assembly.

Federal and Devolved Government


adapted from John Alder, Constitutional and Administrative Law, 4 th ed., Palgrave Law Masters, 2002

In a federal state such as the USA, the constitution divides power between a central federal government and
separate state units in such a way that each is independent within its own sphere and neither can override the
other. […] Federalism allows diverse units to retain their distinctive identity while at the same time encouraging
unity where there is a common interest. Federalism is practicable where the component units have sufficient in
common economically and culturally, for example a shared history or language to enable them to co-operate,
while at the same time each unit is sufficiently distinctive to constitute a community in its own right. Thus a
delicate balance must be struck. The United States and Australia are relatively successful federations whereas
Canada, with its split between English-speaking and French-speaking regions, is less stable. The relationship
between a federal government and the governments within it, is not, therefore in law, one of superior and
inferior, but of partnership. Each has its own sphere of activity and its own constitutionand courts.
Federalism involves certain basic ingredients. There is a single federal citizenship and free movement within the
federation. The central government usually represents the country on the international level and exercises
defined functions – typically, defence and foreign affairs, currency, postal services and important commercial
activities- while leaving residual power with the states. […] Representatives of the states may sit in the federal
legislature. In the USA for example the lower house (the House of Representatives) is elected according to the
population of the states, while in the upper house (the Senate) each state has equal representation.
[…] It is probably best to regard terms such as « federal » or «unitary » not as precise definitions, but as
convenient points upon a political spectrum ranging from loose associations of countries for particular purposes
to simple one-government states.
On this spectrum the UK’s constitution is closer to the latter extreme and is therefore called a « unitary »
constitution. A unitary state has an overriding supreme lawmaker which can devolve power to subordinate units
but is free to take power back. However the UK is not an extreme example of a unitary constitution being a
union of what were the separate units of England, parts of Ireland and Scotland. Wales is also part of the UK but
has never been a separate political unit in its own right. Moreover certain powers have recently been devolved to
elected assemblies in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales but without limiting the powers of Parliament.

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Centre Audiovisuel d’Études Juridiques des Université de Paris

LECTURE 2 The English Constitution / The British Monarchy


Keypoints
Part I The English Constitution
. An unwritten, unentrenched, flexible constitution
. Magna Carta, 1215
. The Bill of Rights, 1689
. Some constitutional rules established by Acts of Parliament
. Constitutional conventions
. The special case of human rights in Great Britain

Part 2 The Monarchy


. A constitutional monarchy
. The monarch’s formal duties, performed on the prime minister’s advice
. The monarch’s right to be consulted, to encourage and to warn
. What future for the monarchy ?

General Questions
. How many constitutions has the United Kingdom had ?
.What main constitutional issues/areas are regulated by rules laid down in legislative texts ?
. What are the main characteristics of the English constitution ?
. What are the different sources of constitutional rules in the UK ?
. What is the constitutional importance of Magna Carta ?
. Is Magna Carta still constitutionally relevant today ?
. What was the constitutional importance of the Bill of Rights ?
. What constitutional changes did the various Reform Acts voted by the British Parliament in
the 19th century introduce ?
. What constitutional changes did the Parliament Act of 1911 lay down?
. What is the British monarch’s actual role in British politics nowadays ?
. The Queen’s Speech
. What does the Queen’s role as head of the Church of England consist in ?
. Explain the British monarch’s « right to be consulted, the right to encourage, and the right to
warn ».
. What is the future for the British monarchy ?
Questions requiring brief answers
.What is an Act of Parliament ?
. Is there any British equivalent of the French Conseil Constitutionnel ? Why/Why not ?
. What do yo call the list of items to be discussed at a meeting ?
. What does the expression 'Royal Prerogative' refer to ?
. What is a 'hung' Parliament ? What constitutional difficulty does a 'hung' parliament raise ?
. Briefly describe what a constitutional convention is and how it comes into existence.
. What does 'proroguing' Parliament mean ?
. What is the 'Royal Assent' ? Is it possible for the British monarch to refuse to agree to a bill
voted by the two Chambers ?
. What is the difference between herediatry peers and life peers ?
. Which English expression is used to express that the British monarch is politically neutral ?
. What doe the British monarch’s right to warn consist in ?
. How many years has Queen Elizabeth reigned ?
. When will Prince Charles be crowned as king of the United Kingdom ?
last updated : May 2015
Further reading Constitutional conventions

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Constitutional conventions are a particularly important source of the UK constitution and they are
crucial to understanding how the constitution functions. Conventions are the source of the non-legal
rules of the constitution : they assist in making government work - in this sense they have an important
practical dimension. Conventions are mainly the customary rules which determine how the
discretionary powers of government are exercised.

Constitutional monarchy
Although the theoretical Head of State remains the monarch, the principle of constitutional monarchy
means that the Queen takes no active part in the running of the country : in practice, although the
business of government is conducted in the name of the Crown, the key decisions are taken at
ministerial level.
Though the Parliamentary year starts with the Queen’s Speech and though bills are given royal assent,
the Queen does not intervene in the politics of the law-making programme. Thus the sovereign's
speech delivered from the throne in the House of Lords at the opening of each session of
Parliament setting out government policy is always written by the Prime Minister. Moreover, it
has long been established - in fact since the early 1700s - that Royal Assent to Bills that have
completed their passage through the House of Commons and the House of Lords is never
refused by the reigning monarch.
The Queen is still kept informed about what is happening in Parliament, and through audiences with
the prime minister of the day, is briefed about significant developments. But the monarch is no
longer the source of political decision-taking or law-making.
It is a well-established convention that the sovereign appoints the leader of the majority party in
the House of Commons to form a government and become Prime Minister. Assuming one party
enjoys such a majority, the leader of that party will always be chosen to form the government.
However , if no party emerges from a general election as a clear winner, as occurred in 2010, the
monarch will have to decide whom to call upon to form a government. Advice may be taken from
experts, but the final decision rests with the monarch. The lack of clarity on such an important
question has led to calls for statutory procedures to be set in place which should determine the
outcome, should this situation recur.
See text, 'Civil service rewrites rules on when PM should resign in hung parliament', guardian.co.uk,
Tuesday 14 December 2010.

Cabinet government and collective responsibility


The very existence and role of the Cabinet – the central committee of ministers chaired by the prime
minister and responsible for determining the government’s programme – have developed and continue
to develop by convention. Even if Prime Ministers continue to be appointed by the monarch, their
appointments depends on the results of the election process. It has also been established by convention
that the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer must be members of the House of
Commons, and, as a result directly accountable to the electorate.Furthermore, there has never been
any law setting out the formal limits of prime ministerial powers, which have grown enourmously,
or defining with precision the relationship between the Prime Ministerand the cabinet.
The related doctrine of collective responsibility, whereby ministers who do not agree with the
policy of the government as determined in Cabinet are supposed to resign from the government, is also
based on constitutional convention.

Individual ministerial responsibility


Another constitutional doctrine is that ministers should take ultimate responsibility for what goes
on in their departments. This essentially means that they must answer questions in Parliament or
select committees about the work of their departments. On occasions, this may also lead ministers to
resign, when one of their policies has notoriousoy failed.
adapted from Peter Leyland, The Constitution of the United Kingdom, Hart Publishing, 2007

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The English Constitution : an unwritten constitution


A Cabinet Manual that set out the rules about the functioning of government was ordered by Gordon
Brown and his Labour government in 2009. One draft chapter, first published in February 2010 and
then rewritten and re-published in December 2010, was of particular significance since it set out the
rules on what to do in the case of a hung parliament. This was seen as a first tentative step towards a
written constitution ('Civil service rewrites rules on when PM should resign in hung parliament'), until
the Lords Consitution Committee denied any such attempt ('Cabinet manual not "first step" to written
constitution').
This debate shows Britain's reluctance to move towards a written constitution

Civil service rewrites rules on when PM should resign in hung parliament


Sir Gus O'Donnell publishes first attempt to codify rules of government in 'cabinet manual' seen as first
step towards written constitution
Polly Curtis, Whitehall correspondent, guardian.co.uk, 14 December 2010
The conventions around coalition talks have been rewritten to prevent the losing prime minister
offering his or her resignation to the Queen and forcing the formation of a new government before that
new government has formed, Britain's chief civil servant announced today. Sir Gus O'Donnell, the
head of the civil service, today published the first ever attempt to codify the rules of government in a
"cabinet manual" that is being seen as the first step towards a written constitution. It sets out
everything from the way cabinet should work to how governments are formed in the case of a hung
parliament.

The document makes it even more explicit that the Queen should be kept out of the formation of the
new government in a hung parliament, to avoid accusations of political interference. But it also
suggests that the situation whereby the losing prime minister can force the formation of a new
government by offering his or her resignation before a coalition is fully formed should not occur
again. This follows accusations that Gordon Brown offered his resignation to the palace before Nick
Clegg and David Cameron were absolutely ready. David Laws, one of the Liberal Democrat MPs who
was involved in the coalition talks in May, claimed that they were forced to lead Brown to believe that
there was a chance of a Lib-Lab coalition in order to prevent him going to the palace to offer his
resignation too soon and risking a constitutional crisis whereby Britain was left without a prime
minister.

The document says: "The incumbent prime minister is not expected to resign until it is clear that there
is someone else who should be asked to form a government because they are better placed to
command the confidence of the House of Commons and that information has been communicated to
the sovereign." A draft chapter on government formation was published before the election, setting out
the rules on what to do in the case of a hung parliament. It was seen as the constitutional guide that
governed the coalition talks. But that has now been revised to place greater emphasis on the
responsibility of the losing prime minister to remain in office.

Laws wrote in his book about the coalition talks, 22 Days in May, that there was a concerted effort to
keep Brown in office until the talks had concluded. "The civil service, the palace, the Lib Dems and
the Conservatives all wanted Brown to remain in place so that the handover of power happened
seamlessly (= with no pause between the previous government and the next one). It just about
worked," he wrote.

The draft document, which will be open to consultation now and published fully in the spring, sets out
in 11 chapters the rules of government formation, the relationship between the monarchy, the judiciary
and the Westminster government and how cabinet decision-making should operate. O'Donnell said:
"Today's draft cabinet manual aims to set out clearly, comprehensively and impartially the rules
governing the workings of government, from the particular perspective and understanding of the
executive. It was originally commissioned by the previous government, and is supported by the
coalition government. It is intended to be a living document, and will be updated to take account of

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any changes in the processes of government and constitutional reforms. It will, I hope, stimulate
debate and provide an important contribution to public understanding of, and engagement with, the
processes by which we are all governed."

O'Donnell has previously stressed that he is not aiming to produce a blueprint for Britain's first written
constitution or advocating introducing one, but that if there was a political decision to introduce one
the cabinet manual might be the start of it. He told the political and constitutional reform committee
last month that if the government were to introduce a written constitution it would start by "bringing
together existing laws and conventions" in such a way as was being done in this manual. "They may
well not end with it, but they would certainly start with it," he said.
**********
Cabinet manual not 'first step' to written constitution BBC News, 7 March 2011
An attempt to spell out the conventions underpinning how government works is not a "first
step" to a written constitution, peers have said. The Lords Constitution Committee said the new
Cabinet Manual should serve as a point of reference for civil servants but not "set in stone" the
processes by which ministers reach decisions. The document should not be formally endorsed by
ministers and MPs, it said.

The manual was commissioned by former prime minister Gordon Brown in 2009. At the time, Mr
Brown asked the Cabinet Secretary Sir Gus O'Donnell to head up efforts to "consolidate the existing
unwritten, piecemeal conventions that govern much of the way central government operates under our
existing constitution into a single written document". The document covers a number of areas
including the role and powers of the Sovereign, the executive, ministers, Parliament, processes of
collective Cabinet decision making and government relations with the devolved administrations and
the EU.

It should not be endorsed by the Cabinet nor formally approved by Parliament. One draft chapter of
the manual, on the processes for forming a government in the event of a Hung Parliament, was
published in February 2010 - ahead of last year's inconclusive election result - and was praised for
explaining what should happen in such a situation.

But the cross-party Lords committee - whose members include former Lord Chancellor Lord Irvine,
former Attorney General Lord Goldsmith and Lord Powell, a former senior adviser to Lady Thatcher -
said it did not believe the rest of the manual was as useful. Responding to the government's
consultation on the draft manual, it said the document should only seek to describe existing rules and
practices and neither prescribe how ministers should act in any given situation in the future nor "set
existing practice in stone". It expressed concern that the manual could be cited as evidence in judicial
review of government decisions or other legal proceedings.The document must be "entirely accurate
and properly sourced" and all material not forming part of the laws, conventions and rules on
government should potentially be removed, it added.

"In our view the Cabinet manual has limited value and relevance," Baroness Jay, the committee's chair
and former Labour minister, said."We acknowledge that it provides greater transparency on certain
aspects of the operation of government and it is to be welcomed in that context. "However, this value
has been given undue prominence by the helpful publication of chapter two in draft prior to the May
2010 general election; the benefits of the publication of that chapter do not, on the whole, extend to the
rest of the manual. We conclude that the manual is not the first step to a written constitution. It should
be renamed the Cabinet Office manual and its greater relevance to officials than to politicians
emphasised."

In a statement, the Cabinet Office said it welcomed the committee's submission and would "consider
all comments received as we update the draft".

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The British Crown : Should Britain abolish the monarchy?


Economist writers present three different arguments for the role of the royal family
The Economist, September 8th 2015
The case against the monarchy
CEASE campaigning, Hillary Clinton; get back to business, Donald Trump: America’s 2016
election has been cancelled. The White House has announced that in the interests of political
stability the next president and all future ones will be chosen using the British model. Barack
Obama will remain in office until he dies, at which point Americans will welcome their next
head of state: his daughter, Queen Malia. Americans would not stand for this. Why do
Britons?
The case against hereditary appointments in public life is straightforward: they are
incompatible with democracy and meritocracy, which are the least-bad ways to run countries.
Royalists say this does not matter because the monarch no longer “runs” Britain. Yet in
theory, at least, she has considerable powers: to wage war, sign treaties, dissolve Parliament
and more.

There is little danger of Queen Elizabeth II throwing her weight around (though her son
Charles has a habit of bending ministers’ ears over trivial matters). But the trouble with
hereditary succession is that you never know quite who you're going to get. The Windsors are
no less likely than any other family to produce an heir who is mad or bad. What then?
The second pitfall is subtler: in the belief that the monarchy forms some kind of constitutional
backstop against an overmighty Parliament, Britain is strangely relaxed about the lack of
serious checks on its government. It has no written constitution; the current government has
plans to repeal a law implementing the European Convention on Human Rights, which many
Britons recklessly consider a nuisance rather than a safeguard. It is true that monarchs can, as
a last resort, stand up for the nation: royalists cite the example of King Juan Carlos of Spain,
whose televised address to the nation in 1981 helped prevent a coup. But the more one
believes that the head of state’s role really matters, the more serious a problem it is that the
monarch is chosen using a mechanism as dodgy as inheritance.
Opinion polls and healthy sales of commemorative junk suggest that Britons and foreigners
alike love the Windsors. But the royals may not be entirely good for the country’s image
abroad, or its view of itself. Britain still has a reputation as a snooty, class-obsessed place.
Mrs Clinton’s advisers warned her of the “inbred arrogance” of Britain’s previous
government; Britons themselves are gloomier than Americans about the prospects of talented
poor people. The image is out of date: by some measures Britain is now more socially mobile
than America. But it is hard to shake off the debilitating tag when the head of state and her
hangers-on attain their positions not through popularity, talent or industry, but by the mere
fact of their birth. Britain would be stronger if its head of state were elected. And if the winner
were Elizabeth, then good for her.
The case for the monarchy
IPSOS-MORI has been tracking opinion on the monarchy for the past 20 years, and the
responses have been remarkably consistent over that time. By a margin of well over three to
one, respondents have favoured keeping the institution over turning Britain into a republic. It
is hard, in fact, to find any political question on which the British people are more united,

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except perhaps their dislike of politicians. That sets the bar for a change to an institution that
commands a great deal of affection (think of the millions who celebrated the royal wedding or
the Queen’s golden jubilee) pretty high.

Those who would like to scrap a popular monarchy need to be able to show that there is a
significant demand for a change (which there is not) or that the institution does significant
harm, which is just as hard to do. It is accused of being expensive, but offset against the few
tens of millions of cost the fact that Britain’s royal heritage is a big part of its tourist appeal,
not to mention the unquantifiable but surely substantial brand-management efforts that the
Queen in effect performs on overseas trips. An alternative, elected head of state would not be
cost-free either.

The monarchy is accused of entrenching elitism and the class system, but it is a fantasy to
imagine that those things would vanish in a republic; they certainly have not in America,
while the monarchies of Denmark, Sweden and Norway are among the most meritocratic and
egalitarian in the world. It is accused of damaging democracy because (on paper) the Queen
retains vast constitutional powers. But this ignores the fact that there is not the remotest
chance that she or her successors would actually use them; if ever she or they did, then Britain
could and indeed should consider becoming a republic.
On the other hand, it is just as plausible to assert that there are benefits to a monarchy, on top
of the (hard to quantify) economic ones. At a time when most government institutions
everywhere are unpopular and even hated, any part of the state which people still actually like
is a rare plus, something not to be discarded lightly. And what would replace the monarch?
An elected and therefore political head of state is sure to upset at least one large section of the
electorate a lot more than an uncontroversial one who is above politics.
Admittedly, the value of continuity and tradition, and of a focus for Britain’s quiet brand of
patriotism are difficult to assess. The reality is that the monarchy does not do much harm and
does not do much good; but it is accepted and liked by most Britons. Getting rid of it simply
isn’t worth the fuss.
And the case for modest reform
CRITICS of Britain’s monarchy will often say that if you were starting a 21st-century
democracy from scratch you wouldn’t dream of having an hereditary head of state. Though
this is undoubtedly true, it is also true that the history of the past 50 years ago shows that
starting democracies from scratch is very hard. Successful democracies grow out of an
historical experience that is specific to the nations involved, and British democracy has grown
up entangled with the monarchy. It may be appealing, in various ways, to see the House of
Windsor as something like Wittgenstein’s Tractatus—a ladder which, having been climbed to
solid ground, can be kicked away—but it is not trivially or obviously true.
The fact that a monarchy is not intellectually justifiable does not mean that it does not have a
stabilising role. This may be particularly true in Britain, a composite nation. The division of
the currently United Kingdom is a goal that some value dearly, but for Britons who do not
particularly identify with one of the kingdom’s constituent parts, the crown may seem a more
binding element. And in the absence of a written constitution, it is probably a better focus for
the loyalties of the armed forces than the prime minister would be.

Thus, despite its manifest absurdity and unpalatable associations with inherited wealth and
status more broadly, the case for a British republic needs to be pretty strong to justify the

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uncertain but real risks of transition, and to offer not just a general liberation from oppressive
symbolism but a clearly preferable alternative arrangement. And it is not obvious what that
would be. An executive presidency on the American model is clearly ludicrous; all countries
that have tried it other than America have experienced constitutional breakdowns on a
timescale of about a century. A non-executive presidency in a parliamentary system works
quite well in many places but few of them have chosen it peacefully over an established
indigenous (as opposed to colonial) monarchy, so there is not a very good comparison base.

But to keep Britain’s monarchy does not entail keeping it in its current form. Its entangled
history of democracy and monarchy has left Britain with a highly centralized constitution that
locates the nation’s sovereignty in "the king in parliament"—a situation that gives the leader
of the majority party in the legislature a disturbingly large part of the power that was once
vested entirely in the monarchy. This situation could be remedied quite easily by keeping the
crown but changing its constitutional basis to one along the lines of that most excellent of
countries, Belgium. Belgium is a popular monarchy. Its constitution makes clear that
sovereignty rests in the people; the King (or Queen, though it has yet to have one)—who is
King of the Belgians, a people, not Belgium, a territory— becomes monarch not by right, but
by taking an oath to uphold the people’s constitution.
A change to the British constitution which made the kingdom’s various peoples sovereign and
the head of state the guardian of that sovereignty, not the source of it, would be a welcome
plank in the more general programme of reform that the British state clearly needs. The
British helped to give the Belgians their constitution in 1830. If the Belgians were to give
some of it back 200 years on that would be a worthy return.

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The Queen’s Speech

Her Majesty’s most gracious speech to both Houses of Parliament at the State
Opening of Parliament, delivered on 18 May 2016
.

(The words in bold print are my own responsibility - mcm)


My Lords and Members of the House of Commons.
My government will use the opportunity of a strengthening economy to deliver security for
working people, to increase life chances for the most disadvantaged and to strengthen national
defences.

My ministers will continue to bring the public finances under control so that Britain lives
within its means, and to move to a higher wage and lower welfare economy where work is
rewarded.

To support the economic recovery, and to create jobs and more apprenticeships, legislation
will be introduced to ensure Britain has the infrastructure that businesses need to grow.
Measures will be brought forward to create the right for every household to access high
speed broadband.
Legislation will be introduced to improve Britain’s competitiveness and make the United
Kingdom a world leader in the digital economy.

My ministers will ensure the United Kingdom is at the forefront of technology for new forms
of transport, including autonomous and electric vehicles.

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To spread economic prosperity, my government will continue to support the development of a


Northern Powerhouse.
In England, further powers will be devolved to directly elected mayors, including powers
governing local bus services.

Legislation will also allow local authorities to retain business rates, giving them more
freedom to invest in local communities.
My government will support aspiration and promote home ownership through its commitment
to build a million new homes.
Following last week’s Anti-Corruption Summit in London, legislation will be introduced to
tackle corruption, money laundering and tax evasion.

My government will continue work to deliver NHS services over 7 days of the week in
England. Legislation will be introduced to ensure that overseas visitors pay for the health
treatment they receive at public expense.

New legislation will be introduced to tackle some of the deepest social problems in society,
and improve life chances.
A Bill will be introduced to ensure that children can be adopted by new families without
delay, improve the standard of social work and opportunities for young people in care in
England.

To tackle poverty and the causes of deprivation, including family instability, addiction and
debt, my government will introduce new indicators for measuring life chances. Legislation
will be introduced to establish a soft drinks industry levy to help tackle childhood obesity.

Measures will be introduced to help the lowest-income families save, through a new Help to
Save scheme, and to create a Lifetime ISA to help young people save for the long-term.
My government will continue to reform public services so they help the hardest-to-reach.

A Bill will be brought forward to lay foundations for educational excellence in all schools,
giving every child the best start in life. There will also be a fairer balance between schools,
through the National Funding Formula.

To ensure that more people have the opportunity to further their education, legislation will be
introduced to support the establishment of new universities and to promote choice and
competition across the higher education sector.
My government will legislate to reform prisons and courts to give individuals a second
chance.

Prison Governors will be given unprecedented freedom and they will be able to ensure
prisoners receive better education. Old and inefficient prisons will be closed and new
institutions built where prisoners can be put more effectively to work.

Action will also be taken to ensure better mental health provision for individuals in the
criminal justice system.
My government will continue to work to bring communities together and strengthen society.

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Legislation will be introduced to prevent radicalisation, tackle extremism in all its forms, and
promote community integration.
National Citizen Service will be placed on a permanent statutory footing.
My government will continue to safeguard national security.
My ministers will invest in Britain’s armed forces, honouring the military covenant and
meeting the NATO commitment to spend 2% of national income on defence.
They will also act to secure the long-term future of Britain’s nuclear deterrent.
My government will continue to play a leading role in world affairs, using its global presence
to tackle climate change and address major international security, economic and humanitarian
challenges.
My government will continue to work to resolve the conflict in Ukraine. It will play a leading
role in the campaign against Daesh and to support international efforts to bring peace to Syria
through a lasting political settlement.
Britain’s commitment on international development spending will also be honoured, helping
to deliver global stability, support the Sustainable Development Goals and prevent new
threats to national security.

Prince Philip and I look forward to welcoming His Excellency the President of Colombia on
a State Visit in November.
My government will continue with legislation to modernise the law governing the use and
oversight of investigatory powers by law enforcement, security and intelligence agencies.
Legislation will strengthen the capability and accountability of the police service in England
and Wales.

My government will hold a referendum on membership of the European Union. Proposals


will be brought forward for a British Bill of Rights.
My ministers will uphold the sovereignty of Parliament and the primacy of the House of
Commons.
My government will continue to work in cooperation with the devolved administrations to
implement the extensive new powers in the Scotland Act and establish a strong and lasting
devolution settlement in Wales. My government will work in Northern Ireland to secure
further progress in implementing the Stormont House and Fresh Start Agreements.

Members of the House of Commons: Estimates for the public services will be laid before
you.
My Lords and Members of the House of Commons: Other measures will be laid before you.
I pray that the blessing of Almighty God may rest upon your counsels.

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General Comments
. Since the Bill of Rights (1689) the British Parliamentary system has been defined as the
Queen in Parliament > the queen as head of state and of the executive governs under the
control of Parliament.

> government must consult Parliament before decisions are final – cf David Cameron’s
proposal – government motion - to participate in Syrian air strikes with a number of other
countries, including France : the proposal/motion was debated in the House of Commons and
it was finally voted on Thursday 3 December . The government motion specifically authorizes
air strikes "exclusively" against IS in Syria - but not deploying British troops on the ground.
> government proposes bills that Parliament must discuss and eventually vote . Once the two
Houses have agreed and voted the same text, the bill must receive the sovereign’s approval
before it is actually a full-fledged law, an Act of Parliament. This approval is called the Royal
Assent

. The Queen's Speech opens Parliament's yearly session and is therefore addressed to all the
Members of the British Parliament, Lords and MPs. The speech is delivered by the Monarch -
at the moment Queen Elizabeth II - from his/her throne in the House of Lords. That is why the
translation of the 'Queen's Speech' into French is 'Discours du Trône'.

> A careful reading of the speech helps understand some specificities of the functioning of
British political institutions :

- 'My Lords' and to 'Members of the House of Commons' : whereas there is a close link
between the monarch and the members of the House of Lords, who are descendants of old
aristocratic families who were granted peerages by previous monarchs, or who were
appointed life peers by the present Queen, no such link exists between the monarch and the
Members of the House of Commons who are elected by British voters - therefore she can say
'My Lords', but 'Members of the House of Commons' whom she does not know personally as
they are elected and were not appointed by her.

- 'My Government', 'My Ministers' : constitutionally the monarch/Queen remains the head of
state and officially appoints all the members of the government, although nowadays she does
it entirely upon the prime minister's advice and has no say in the selection of ministers of the
government.

- ‘my government will legislate / will bring forward legislation to ... ‘, 'legislation/measures
will be introduced / will be brought forward to ...' : these are the repeated formulas used by
the monarch to mention the different legislative proposals - the bills - that the government
plans to present to Parliament over the parliamentary session. The Queen’s Speech gives the
government’s legislative agenda for the parliamentary session.

- 'Members of the House of Commons' - in the middle of the speech, the queen interrupts the
list to address herself exclusively to the members of the House of Commons : this is where

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she mentions that the budget - 'estimates for the public services' - will be examined.
According to Parliament Act 1911, only the members of the House of Commons, who are
elected by citizens/tax-payers have the power to discuss and to vote the financial/money bills
that make up the budget. Lords who are not elected, and therefore not representatives of
British citizens, do not discuss nor vote the budget.

- At the very end of the list of bills, the formula ' Other measures will be laid before you' is
always used to indicate that the list of bills presented is not final and that the government may
submit other bills to Parliament if necessary.

- The Speech always ends with the following statement 'I pray that the blessing of Almighty
God may rest upon your counsels' : it indicates that the British monarch is the Head of the
Church of England, which is the established religion in the United Kingdom - therefore God's
blessing is invoked in all public events.

Specific comments about the contents of the 2016 Queen’s Speech


presented in Regroupement 1, November 2016
The Queen’s Speech marks the State Opening of the parliamentary session in the UK. Since
the Fixed Term Parliaments Act 2011, parliamentary sessions in the UK have all started in
May. As defined in the Bill of Rights, 1689, the British system of government is
parliamentary government, which means the monarch must govern in accordance with the
laws voted by Parliament – except that over the years, as a result of a series of constitutional
conventions – constitutional customs/constitutional practice - the monarch’s powers have
shifted to the prime minister. That is why the speech is still delivered by the monarch, but is
in fact written by the prime minister. That explains the constant references in the speech to
‘my government’ or ‘my ministers’ since the Queen still officially appoints the ministers in
the government, although she simply officializes the names proposed by the prime minister.
The Speech is delivered from the House of Lords – since the monarch is ‘the fountain of
honours’, that is to say the one who traditionally appoints the members of the House of
Lords. Yet members of the House of Commons are allowed exceptionally into the House of
Lords to listen to the speech. That is why she addresses herself to My Lords (she appoints
them) and Members of the House of Commons – no possessive, since Members of the House
of Commons are elected and do not owe their positions to the monarch.
The purpose of the Queen’s Speech is to present the government’s legislative agenda. That is
why references to planned legislative are made in different ways : ‘legislation will be
introduced’, ‘measures will be brought forward’, ‘legislation will also allow’, ‘a Bill will be
introduced’, ‘my government will continue with legislation’.
One item at the end of the speech is addressed exclusively to the Members of the House of
Commons : ‘Members of the House of Commons : Estimates for the public services will be
laid before you’. This item refers to the money bills that make up the budget and that only the
MPs in the House of Commons have the power to discuss and to vote, since they alone are
British taxpayers’ elected representatives. Lords, who are not elected, lost all power over the
budget as a result of Parliament Act 1911.
The list presented in the speech is not necessarily exhaustive, as mentioned with the reference:
‘Other measures will be laid before you’.

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The final words, ‘I pray that the blessing of Almighty God may rest upon your counsels’, is
a direct reference to the British Monarch’s role as temporal head of the Church of England.
Among the legislative proposals for the 2016-2017 parliamentary session, note the following
issues :
. further powers to be devolved in England
. Parliament will discuss the long-term future of Britain’s nuclear deterrent
. the EU referendum was announced, as it was about to be held when the Queen delivered the
speech
. Parliament will discuss a British version of fundamental rights, which may result in the
repeal of the Human Rights Act 1998
. further devolution of powers to Scotland’s, Wales’ and Northern Ireland’s own regional
legislatures and executives
. Colombian president’s state visit

The Queen's Speech 2017 will be delivered on June 19, 2017 after the results of the early
general election that Prime Minister Theresa May has decided to call on June 8, 2017.
The content of the Queen's Speech 2017 will be commented upon in Regroupement 1,
November 2017.

Queen to perform 'dressed down' State Opening of Parliament, wearing hat


instead of crown for first time in 43 years
The Telegraph, 27 April 2017

The Queen will undertake a dressed-down State Opening of Parliament for the first time in
more than 40 years, as ceremonial plans suffer major disruption because of the general
election. The Queen will not wear her Imperial State Crown or robes for this year’s State
Opening, with the annual service of the Order of the Garter also cancelled for the first time
since 1984.
The changes to the Royal schedule, announced by Buckingham Palace today, will see the
State Opening of Parliament take place on June 19, 2017.

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LECTURE 3 Democracy in Britain


Keypoints
.The different categories of elections : general elections, regional elections, European
elections, local elections, by-elections
. General elections ® the double purpose of general elections
® frequency : the Fixed Term Parliaments Act 2011
® election day
® constituencies : safe and marginal constituencies

. First Past The Post (FPTP) : the voting system used for general elections in the United
Kingdom
® how it works, advantages and disadvantages
® the 'hung Parliament' and the formation of a coalition government
in 2010
® the failed attempt at electoral reform in 2011: what difference
would PR make if a mixed system of FPTP and PR were adopted for
general elections ?
® the 2015 general election : results

. Proportional Representation (PR), for regional and European elections


® Regional elections to the Welsh Assembly, the Scottish Parliament
and the Northern Ireland Assembly
. Results of the last elections held in May 2011
® European elections - last elections in May 2014

. Referendums ® national, UK-wide referendums


. the National Referendum of 1975 about the United Kingdom's
membership of the European Union
. the Alternative Vote referendum of May 2011
. the EU referendum, 23 June 2016

® regional referendums
. the Scottish and Welsh referendums of 1979 and 1997
. the Northern Ireland Good Friday Agreement referendum 1998
. the Scottish Independence referendum, 18 September 2014

. Local elections : election of mayors and local councillors

. Citizens' turnout at elections


® Who is entitled to vote ?
® Who actually votes ?

General questions

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. What different categories of elections exist in the United Kingdom ? What voting sytems are
used ?
. What is the purpose of general elections in the United Kingdom ?
. What reform did the Fixed Term Parliaments Act introduced in 2011 ?
. What is the point of distinguishing between ‘safe’ and ‘marginal’ constitutencies ?
. What is the voting system used for general elections in the UK ?
. What are the disadvantages of FPTP ? Is there any plan of changing FPTP for a fairer voting
system ?
. What was unexpected about the result of the 2010 general election ?
. Are referendums frequently held in the United Kingdom ?
. In what circumstances was the referendum of June 2016 decided ? What was the result ?
. What was the purpose of the referendums held in Wales and Scotland in 1979 and in 1997 ?
. What was the purpose of the referendum organized in Scotland in September 2014 ?

Questions requiring brief answers


. What is a by-election ?
. What is a fixed-term parliament ?
. What is a safe constituency ?
. What is a marginal constituency ?
. What does the acronym FPTP mean ?
. What si a ‘hung’ Parliament ?
. What does the word ‘turnout’ mean in the UK electortal context ?

last updated : April 2017

How a UK general election works : the 2015 general election is under way. From
prorogation to the state opening of parliament, here is the order of events.
The Guardian, by Flora MacQueen, 31 March 2015

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Those of us entitled to vote in the general election may soon complete a ballot paper and place
it in a box that will be carried away to be counted – unless of course you post it, nominate
someone else to do it for you or don’t bother. But what exactly happens during a general
election? Here’s how it works:

Prorogation → This is the formal end to a session of parliament. This year’s happened
on 26 March. Since the 19th century, the monarch has not attended prorogation. Instead, a
speech is made on the Queen’s behalf announcing all the major bills passed in the last year.

Dissolution and throwing out the MPs →


A parliament is dissolved while the
election campaign takes place. But government departments carry on as normal with the same
ministers in post until after the vote.
This year parliament was automatically dissolved at 00.01 on Monday 30 March following a
new law, which gives more rigid guidance on when to dissolve parliament – 25 working days
before a general election. 2015 will be the longest period without a parliament since 1924.
Nevertheless, the prime minister paid a courtesy call to the Queen.

Every seat in the Commons is now vacant. All MPs’ security passes have been cancelled,
locking them out of parliamentary buildings and internal systems.
Lords may still access some limited facilities and conventionally may step in to make key
decisions while parliament is dissolved.

Party campaigning and TV debates → After dissolution, political parties and


candidates have 38 days to appeal to voters. The public is overwhelmingly in favour of
televised debates. But party leaders are under no obligation to take part. David Cameron has
said he will only appear in one TV debate with six other party leaders on Thursday 2 April on
ITV. The BBC is hosting another TV debate between opposition party leaders on Thursday
16 April.

Voter registration deadlines → If you don’t register by 20 April, you will not be able
to vote on polling day. After registering you will be sent a card detailing which polling station
you should vote at. If you have a query, you need to contact your local electoral registration
office.

If voting by post, you must apply by 5pm on Tuesday 21 April. Someone else can vote on
your behalf by proxy if you fit the criteria. You will need to register by 5pm on 28 April to do
so, or later by emergency proxy.

Polling day: 7 May → Polling stations will be open 7am to 10pm for those registered to
vote in person. Postal voters receive their ballot paper the week before and it needs to be
returned by 10pm on election day.

Voters mark an X on the ballot paper for their chosen candidate. If anything else is written it
is considered a spoilt vote and is void.
At 10pm the doors of the polling stations close and the ballot boxes are sealed. Following
chaos in 2010, people still queuing by 10pm will be able to cast their vote.

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Ballot boxes are transported to counting centres by the police. Counting begins as soon as the
first boxes arrive and continues through to Friday morning.
Although nearly all UK, Commonwealth and Irish citizens resident in the UK and over the
age of 18 have the right to vote, there are some exceptions. Controversially, prisoners cannot
vote, although if they are on remand or not convicted, they can vote if they are registered.
Those found guilty of electoral misconduct in the last five years also cannot vote.

The Queen never votes. As the head of the state she must remain politically neutral and so it
would be considered unconstitutional for her to vote in a general election. This also extends to
the royal family.
Members of the House of Lords can not vote in general elections.

Results and forming a government → To win a majority of the vote under the
current system – known as first past the post (FPTP) – a party needs to secure more than half
the seats available. With a parliamentary majority, it is almost certain the new government
will have the support it needs to pass legislation.
There are 650 seats in the House of Commons representing the 650 constituencies in the UK:
533 are in England, 59 in Scotland, 40 in Wales, and 18 in Northern Ireland.
Voters choose a candidate in their constituency, rather than voting for a party. The candidate
with the largest number of votes wins the seat. In marginal constituencies, the contests are
very close.
A party winning a majority of seats usually does not have to win a majority of the overall
votes cast.
FPTP is heavily criticised by the Electoral Reform Society for not being proportionally
representative enough, especially now in an era of multi-party politics.

Could there be two elections? → A hung parliament is a possible outcome, when no


single party has won an overall majority and no party holds more than 50% of seats in the
Commons.
When this happens the party with the most seats looks to other parties for support to gain an
overall majority, potentially to form a coalition or partnership. It is also possible for a
minority coalition to try to form a government.

This means the leader of the largest party does not necessarily become prime minister.
The civil service provides a private location, such as the Cabinet Office, for parties to
negotiate away from parliament and the media.
While these negotiations are taking place, the UK retains a caretaker government and an
incumbent prime minister. Ministers who lose their seats during the election will remain in
government during this period. There are concerns about the lack of clarity during these
caretaker periods.
If a coalition or partnership fails, the party that was in government before the election gets the
first opportunity to try to form a minority government. If not, the prime minister will resign.

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A parliament’s job is to amend and pass new laws. To do this, more than half the MPs need to
agree by voting. This is much harder to achieve with a minority government. So a minority
government may seek to call a second election to try to strengthen numbers.

However, legislation prevents a government from dissolving parliament (including for an


election) at will – two-thirds of the Commons needs to vote for it.

Return of parliament and the state opening → Parliament is due to reconvene on


18 May. All MPs and lords are required by law to swear an oath of allegiance to the crown.
They are not allowed to take their seat in the Commons, speak in debates or vote until the oath
is made. Similar conditions prevail in the House of Lords.

The first hurdle for the new government will be to pass a Queen’s speech motion for the state
opening. As the speech sets out the government’s new agenda, it is crucial this succeeds. If it
fails, the prime minister must resign. This could be used tactically to oust a government.

Another vote required by MPs is to appoint a Speaker. A recent attempt to make it a closed
ballot failed. The Speaker’s role is to chair debates in the Commons chamber, keep order and
call MPs to speak.
The state opening takes place shortly after the general election and is the formal start of the
new parliament, attended by the Queen in person.
During the state opening ceremony, before the Queen’s speech, a short roleplay is performed,
starring a man in tights who endures having the Commons’ chamber door slammed shut in his
face – acknowledging the House of Commons’ independence from the monarchy.

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LECTURE 4 Political parties in Great Britain


Keypoints
. The British traditional two-party system
. Labour ® the origins of the Labour Party
→ Labour in office
→ New Labour under Tony Blair
→ Labour under Gordon Brown (2007-2010) and Ed Miliband (2010-2015)
→ Jeremy Corbyn’s approach to Labour, 2015 - ?

. The Conservative Party


→ Years in office in the 20th century
→ From Tories to Conservatives
→ Conservative ideology
→The Conservatives in opposition, 1997-2010
→The Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government, 2010-2015
→ Theresa May’s governement, 2016 – ?

. The Liberal-Democrats
→ The Liberal Party
→ Merging with the Social Democratic Party, 1988
→ The Liberal-Democrats in British politics today

. Ukip

. Nationalist parties
→ Plaid Cymru in Wales
→ The Scottish National Party (SNP) in Scotland
→ Protestant pro-UK parties in Northern Ireland
→ Catholic pro-independent-Ireland parties in Northern Ireland

General Questions
. New Labour as opposed to Labour
. The importance of the Conservative Party in British politics
. The two party system in British politics
. The Liberal Democrats : historical background, present situation and porspects for the future
. The role of nationalist parties in the Westminster Parliament

Questions requiring brief answers


. What does the expression « law and order », associated to the Conservative Party’s ideology,
mean ?
. According to British political terminology, what is a manifesto ?
. What does the name «labour» mean and why did a party decide to call itself « Labour » ?
. What does Plaid Cymru mean in Welsh ? What does it indicate about that Welsh party ?
. What are unionist parties in Norhern Ireland ?

last updated : April 2017

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Can UK political parties be saved from extinction? BBC News 19 August 2011
Political party membership appears to be in terminal decline in the UK - so can anything be
done to reverse the trend? And does it matter? It was once a source of cultural identity and
pride for millions of British people. But at just over 1% of the population - low by European
standards - party membership is fast becoming a minority pursuit.
There are many theories as to why this has happened. The public have grown cynical and
disillusioned with politicians. We live in a more individualistic age (Why rely on political
leaders to speak for you when you can do it yourself on Twitter or Facebook?). Politics itself
has become too boring and managerial - the ideological red meat loved by the "party faithful"
is in short supply.
There have also been profound changes in the way Britons spend their spare time, since the
days when the local Labour, Conservative or Liberal club was at the heart of the community.
"Most people don't use politics for socialising in the way they might have done in the fifties
and sixties, when you had a realistic chance of meeting your future husband or wife at a party
dinner or dance. Even those drawn to political activism can find party politics a bit strange
and off-putting, preferring instead to join one of the many single issue campaigns that now
exist.

PARTY MEMBERSHIP
• 1951 Conservative 2.9m - Labour 876,000

• 1971 Conservative 1.3m - Labour 700,000

• 1981 Conservative 1.2m - Labour 277,000

• 1991 Conservative 1m to 0.5m - Labour 261,000 - Lib Dem 91,000

• 2001 Conservative 311,000 - Labour 272,000 - Lib Dem 73,000

• 2011 Conservative 177,000 - Labour 190,000 - Lib Dem - 66,000 (Source: Estimates based on party
reports and House of Commons Library)

It is not all gloom - there are still many thriving local party associations around the country.
And new parties, such as the Greens, UKIP, the SNP and Plaid Cymru, have sprung up over
the years to cater to the increasingly diverse political tastes of the British public. But - with
the exception of the SNP in Scotland - the big three Westminster parties still dominate in
terms of membership and influence.

And unless they can find a way of breathing new life into their moribund structures, British
democracy could soon find itself on the critical list. Labour leader Ed Miliband has made
rebuilding his party a top priority. The membership will vote next month on a series of
proposals - from discount membership fees to making local parties more "welcoming" - aimed
at Refounding Labour. Mr Miliband wants to transform the party into a modern, outward-
looking organisation, less in thrall to a rulebook that has not changed much since the party
was founded in 1918. He believes local parties should become more like community action
groups - forging links with other voluntary organisations. Labour's annual conference could
be opened up to campaign groups and charities - who will be allowed to speak from the floor
in debates (but not to vote on policies).

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MEMBERSHIP FEES
• Labour - £41 standard, £20.50 unwaged and pensioners, £1 youth, £20.50 (union or affiliate group
member)

• Conservatives - £25 standard, £5 (under 23)

• Lib Dem - £12 standard, £6 students and unwaged

The Conservatives have also thrown the party open to non-members and supporters - as well
as launching a more conventional recruitment drive. David Cameron's party is also trying to
get members involved in policy formation - a process that had effectively died out - and it has
pioneered the use of "open primaries" to select Tory election candidates.
The Lib Dems have also been opening up their party structures and meetings to non-members.
Some commentators, such as Mark Pack, of the grassroots Lib Dem Voice website, believe
parties need to broaden their support base in this way to avoid becoming unrepresentative of
the public at large. This matters because party members can still have a big influence on
government policy as well as getting to choose the party leaders and even, in certain
circumstances, the prime minister.
For all their overblown rhetoric, the big parties have effectively given up on becoming mass
membership organisations. There will be no return to the 1950s. What we might be witnessing
instead is the birth of a new kind of political party.Not so much a religion to be followed by
faithful, as a pastime to be pursued once or twice a year, when other commitments allow.

*****

Election 2015: Conservative manifesto at-a-glance BBC News, 15 April 2015

The Conservative Party has launched its manifesto ahead of the general election.

Key messages - The front page of the Conservative manifesto gives their three key
messages for the election: "strong leadership", a "clear economic plan" and a "brighter, more
secure future". David Cameron adopted an upbeat tone at the launch, saying he wanted to
offer people in the UK a "good life". He said he wanted to "finish the job" of economic
reform, having "rescued" the economy when he took power in 2010. And he described the
Conservatives as "the party of working people".

Key policies - The main pledges in the manifesto combine previous announcements and
some new policies, announced at the launch. Here are some of the most important:

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. Extension of the right-to-buy scheme to housing association tenants in England


. Plans to build 200,000 starter homes
. Ensuring all people who work 30 hours per week on the minimum wage pay no income tax
. Doubling free childcare allowance for three and four-year-olds to 30 hours
. Increasing the inheritance tax threshold on family homes to £1m by 2017
. No above-inflation rises in rail fares until 2020
. An extra £8bn a year for the NHS by 2020
. Opening 500 more free schools
. An EU referendum by 2017
Economy - The party says mortgages, schools, hospitals and pensions are some of things
that depend on a "strong economy". The manifesto says the Conservative Party will continue
with its "long-term economic plan". Pledges on the economy include:
. Running a surplus by 2018 so that the UK "starts to pay down its debts"
. No rise in VAT, national insurance contributions or income tax
. A crackdown on tax evasion and the "aggressive" avoidance of tax
. Creating a "Northern Powerhouse" through investment
. Spending £100bn on infrastructure in the next Parliament
Jobs and investment - The document says the Conservative Party is committed to
helping people enjoy the "satisfaction and rewards of a decent job". Pledges include:
. Achieving full employment by helping businesses create two million extra jobs over the
course of the next Parliament
. Creating 3 million new apprenticeships
. Cutting £10bn of red tape over the next Parliament
. Giving businesses "the most competitive taxes of any major economy"
. Replacing Jobseeker's Allowance for 18-21 year-olds with a Youth Allowance time-limited
to six months. After that, they will have to take an apprenticeship or traineeship or do
community work to claim benefits
. Requiring 40% of those entitled to take part in strike ballots to vote for a strike before
industrial action can be held
. Requiring companies with more than 250 employees to publish their gender pay gap - the
difference between average pay for male and female employees
. Increasing the minimum wage to £6.70 by the autumn and to £8 by the end of the decade
. Investing £6.9bn in the UK's research infrastructure up to 2021
. "Near universal superfast broadband" for rural areas

Taxation and welfare - The manifesto launch paid significant attention to plans to
reduce tax for low-paid workers and increase benefits for working parents. Some of the main
pledges in this area include :

. Taking everyone who earns less than £12,500 out of income tax
. Passing a new law that would mean all those working 30 hours a week and earning the
minimum wage will not pay income tax on earnings
. Raising the threshold for the 40p rate of tax so that nobody under £50,000 pays the rate
. A freeze on working age benefits for two years from April 2016 (exemptions for disability
and pensioner benefits)
. Lowering the benefit cap from £26,000 to £23,000 (with exemptions for those receiving

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Disability Living Allowance or the Personal Independence Payment)


. Giving working parents of three and four-year-olds 30 hours of free childcare a week
Immigration - The party says it still wants to see annual net migration in the tens of
thousands. It pledges to reduce the incentive for EU migrants to settle in the UK by:
. Negotiating new EU rules so people will have to be earning in the UK for four years before
they can claim tax credits and child benefits
. Introducing a four-year residency requirement for social housing for EU migrants
. Ending the ability of EU jobseekers to claim any job-seeking benefits
. Requiring EU jobseekers who have not found a job within six months to leave
The party says it will also:
. Insist new EU member states' citizens do not have free movement rights "until their
economies have converged much more closely with existing member states"
. Cap the level of skilled migration from outside the EU at 20,700
. Extend the "deport first, appeal later" principle to cover all immigration appeals and judicial
reviews, apart from asylum cases
Education and the NHS - The Tories pledged at the weekend to spend an extra £8bn
per year on the NHS. Other manifesto commitments include:
. Investing £7bn over the course of the next Parliament to provide "good school places"
. Opening at least 500 new free schools and turning failing schools into academies
. Protecting the schools budget; increasing the amount spent on schools as the number of
pupils increases
. Scrapping the cap on higher education student numbers
. Providing same-day GP appointments for over 75s
. The right to a named GP
. Integration of health and social care systems

Heritage, sports and government - The party pledges to:


. Keep major museums and galleries free to enter
. Freeze the BBC licence fee
. Guarantee those who work for a big company and the public sector entitlement to
Volunteering Leave for three days per year
. End taxpayer-funded six-figure pay-offs for the best-paid public sector workers
. Reduce number of MPs to 600
. Introduce English votes for English laws
. Give English MPs a veto over matters only affecting England
. Implement the recommendations of the Smith Commission, set up to consider new powers
for Scotland after the independence referendum
. Increase some powers for the Welsh Assembly
. Devolve corporation tax powers to the Northern Ireland Assembly

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Justice - The Conservatives pledge to:


Toughen sentencing and reform the prison system
Create a Victims' Law that will enshrine key rights for victims, including the right to make a
personal statement and have it read in court before sentencing and before parole hearings
Scrap the Human Rights Act, and introduce a British Bill of Rights
Strengthen counter-terrorism powers
Create new Extremism Disruption Orders, which the party says would help target those trying
to radicalise young people on social media
Pensions and inheritance - Pledges include:
Increasing the inheritance tax threshold for married couples and civil partners to £1m
Continuing to increase the state pension through the triple lock system, meaning it rises by at
least 2.5%
Capping charges on residential care
Introducing a single-tier pension
Protecting pensioner benefits like free bus passes and the winter fuel payment
Foreign affairs and defence - As well as an in/out referendum on EU membership by
the end of 2017, the party pledges to:
Protect the UK economy from further integration with the eurozone while reclaiming other
powers from Europe
Uphold commitment to spend 0.7% of gross national income on international development
Maintain the size of the regular armed services and not reduce the Army to below 82,000
Expand armed forces reserves to 35,000
Retain Trident and build a new a new fleet of nuclear submarines

*****

What is the Labour Party? www.labour.org.uk


Labour has only been in government for four short periods of the 20th century. However its
achievements have revolutionised the lives of the British people. The values Labour stands for
today are those which have guided it throughout its existence : social justice, strong
community and strong values, reward for hard work , decency , rights matched by
responsibilities
History of the Labour Party
This history of the Labour Party celebrates our achievements from its emergence in 1900 as a
parliamentary pressure group. We are right to regard as historic the establishment of the
National Health Service, the enshrining in law of equality of opportunity for all and the
creation and maintenance of an empowering welfare state – all Labour achievements.
Equally important has been the development of Labour as a mass membership party in the
1920s and 1930s, the modernisation of our campaigning techniques in the 1980s and the
election of 101 Labour women MPs in 1997.
However, the lessons we should draw from our history are not all positive. Labour was in
government for just 23 of its first 100 years. On occasions we have also been the victim of

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division and disunity which, as we all know, has cost us dear in electoral terms. It has allowed
the Tories to win and undermine our achievements.
Our history is one to be proud of. Since our formation, Labour has grown from nothing into a
formidable political organisation and one which has achieved major social and political
reforms during the 20th century. The agenda for the future is to ensure that our values become
rooted in British culture so that we can achieve lasting social, economic and political change
in Britain.
How the Labour Party began
The Labour Party was created in 1900: a new party for a
new century. Its formation was the result of many years of
hard effort by working people, trade unionists and socialists,
united by the goal of changing the British Parliament to
represent the interests of everybody. Ignored by the Tories
and disillusioned with the Liberals, a coalition of different
interests came together to push for change at a Conference
on Labour Representation in London's Memorial Hall in
February 1900.
For many years the new organisation struggled to take root
in the British political system. The conference of February
1900 had not even created a proper 'party.' Instead the new
body was called the Labour Representation Committee and it had no members, only
organisations affiliated to it. In the elections of that year, the new group made little ground.
Indeed Labour's leaders worked closely with the 1906-14 Liberal Governments, and relied on
their majority to agree measures to help Labour, such as the Trade Disputes Act of 1906, and
the payment of MPs in 1911.
But while Labour in Parliament was "hanging from the coat-tails" of the Liberals, Labour in
the country was growing apace. The number of constituency parties affiliated rose from 73 in
1906 to 179 by 1914 and before the outbreak of war prevented the expected election, Labour
was prepared to field a record number of candidates. When the Liberal Party split in 1916, the
Labour Party was well placed to make a challenge for power.
First government, 1924
The first real taste of political office came only a year later. Stanley
Baldwin's Conservatives had fought the election on a single issue:
protectionism. The Tories lost almost 90 seats, down from 345 to 258.
Baldwin had failed to obtain the mandate he sought and declined to
form a government, so despite winning 67 fewer seats than the Tories,
Ramsay MacDonald was asked by the King to form a government.
The first Labour government had modest objectives and held office for
only a few months, but its achievements should not be underestimated.
Even without a proper majority in the House of Commons, legislation
was still passed on housing, education, unemployment and social
insurance. Yet, dependent on Liberal support to remain in power, the government fell as a
result of a political row about the actions of Attorney-General Sir Patrick Hastings. In the
subsequent election, the Daily Mail published the infamous Zinoviev letter, a forgery which

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alleged there were links between Russian communists and the British Labour Party. With an
atmosphere of fervent anti-communism, Labour lost 40 seats and the Tories were returned to
power.

Second government, 1929


Five years later, following the election in May 1929, Labour
was back in office, albeit still as a minority administration.
MacDonald was again Prime Minister, with iron-founder
and trade unionist Arthur Henderson as Foreign Secretary
and Margaret Bondfield as Minister of Labour, the first-ever
woman cabinet minister of any party. The government was
dominated by the world economic crisis, precipitated by the
October 1929 Wall Street crash. MacDonald's government
put in place a number of measures to try and resolve the
problem of rising unemployment.
However, these had little effect and in 1931 unemployment
caused a crisis within the cabinet. Politically unable to either
cut benefits or increase taxes to deal with the financial
problem caused by high unemployment, the government was
split and fell. Yet MacDonald did not tender his resignation to the King, but instead offered to
form a National Government with Liberals and Conservatives. From being one of its founding
fathers, Ramsay MacDonald had turned his back on the party and was seen to have betrayed
Labour. He was expelled in September 1931; but in the following election, MacDonald's
coalition won a large majority. The Labour Party was reduced to 52 seats. It was the party's
nadir.

*****
The Liberal Democats / LibDems www.libdems.org.uk

Leader : Tim Farron, MP


8 MPs currently in the House of Commons
93 Peers and Peeresses in the House of Lords
12 MEPs in the European Parliament

Description of the Party's ideology on the Party's website :


"The Liberal Democrats exist to build and safeguard a fair, free and open society, in which we
seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community, and in which no-
one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity. We champion the freedom, dignity
and well-being of individuals, we acknowledge and respect their right to freedom of
conscience and their right to develop their talents to the full. We aim to disperse power, to
foster diversity and to nurture creativity. We believe that the role of the state is to enable all
citizens to attain these ideals, to contribute fully to their communities and to take part in the
decisions which affect their lives."

The Party significantly improved the number of women standing in strong seats in 2010.
Approximately a third of the most notionally winnable seats had women candidates, and half
the retiring MPs were replaced with women candidates.

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Local government
The Liberal Democrats have around 2,700 Councillors on local authorities across the UK,
thousands of Liberal Democrats serve on Town, Parish and Community Councils.
As of January 2013, Lib Dems lead or run 19 councils and share power in many more.
For the Liberal Democrats, local government is key – localism, community politics, devolved
power are all hallmarks of the Liberal Democrats' approach.

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LECTURE 5 The British government

Keypoints

Introduction . The British concept of «government »


. Parliamentary government
. Cabinet/senior ministers and junior ministers
- The prime minister
. Emergence of the position of prime minister
. A position defined by constitutional conventions
. Patronage : appointing and dismissing ministers and a vast
number of public officials
. Chairing the Cabinet and coordinating government
. Leader of the majority party
. Responsible for choosing the date of general elections
. Acting as an intermediary between the monarch and Parliament
. The spokesman of the nation
. Theresa May, prime minister since July 2016
- The Cabinet
. Composition
. Some Cabinet ministers and their area of competence
. The functions of Cabinet : policy formation
. Cabinet committees
. Cabinet meetings ; the summing up by the prime minister
- The organisation of central government
. Government departments
. The Civil Service ; civil servants
. Green papers and white papers

General Questions
. What does the function of the British prime minister consist in ?
. How does the British executive function in the United Kingdom ?

Questions requiring brief answers


. Who shall replace the Prime Minister in case he falls ill or he dies ?
. In the British government, what is the minister responsible for financial affairs called ?
. In the British government, what is the lord Chancellor responsible for ?
. What’s the difference between a junior and a senior minister ?
. In the British political organisation, are the expressions « Government » and « Cabinet »
synonymous ?

The British Cabinet - 27 Cabinet ministers, June 2016:


Prime Minister, First Lord of the Treasury and Minister for Rt Hon Theresa May MP (Con)
the Civil Service
Chancellor of the Exchequer Rt Hon Philip Hammond MP

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(Con)
Home Secretary Rt Hon Amber Rudd MP (Con)
Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP (Con)
Rt Hon Sir Michael Fallon MP
Secretary of State for Defence
(Con)
Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss MP
Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice
(Con)
Rt Hon Justine Greening MP
Secretary of State for Education
(Con)
Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union Rt Hon David Davis MP (Con)
Secretary of State for International Trade and President of
Rt Hon Dr Liam Fox MP (Con)
the Board of Trade
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial
Rt Hon Greg Clark MP (Con)
Strategy
Secretary of State for Health Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP (Con)
Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Rt Hon Damian Green MP (Con)
Secretary of State for Transport Rt Hon Chris Grayling MP (Con)
Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP (Con)
Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Rt Hon David Lidington MP
Commons (Con)
The Baroness Evans of Bowes
Leader of the House of Lords and Lord Privy Seal
Park (Con)
Secretary of State for Scotland Rt Hon David Mundell MP (Con)
Secretary of State for Wales Rt Hon Alun Cairns MP (Con)
Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
(Con)
Rt Hon Andrea Leadsom MP
Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
(Con)
Secretary of State for International Development Rt Hon Priti Patel MP (Con)
Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport Rt Hon Karen Bradley MP (Con)
Rt Hon Sir Patrick McLoughlin
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
MP (Con)
Also attend Cabinet meetings
Chief Secretary to the Treasury Rt Hon David Gauke MP (Con)
Also attend Cabinet meetings
Paymaster General and Minister for the Cabinet Office Rt Hon Ben Gummer MP (Con)
Rt Hon Jeremy Wright QC MP
Attorney General
(Con)
Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury and Chief Whip Rt Hon Gavin Williamson MP

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LECTURE 6 The British Parliament

Keypoints
Introduction . Great Britain, the « mother of Parliaments »
. A two-chamber parliament : the House of Commons and the House of Lords
. Members of Parliament, MPs and Lords
. The notions of representative government and ministerial accountability

The relationship between Parliament and government


a) Parliament, a law-making body
. Bills : public bills and private members’bills
. Party discipline in Parliament : the role of the Whips
. Voting procedures in the Commons : the closure, kangaroo and guillotine
motions
Parliament, and particularly the House of Commons : a mere rubber stamp ? MPs, mere lobby
fodder ?
b) Parliament’s scrutiny of government : Her Majesty’s Opposition in the House of
Commons
. the role of the Shadow Cabinet
. Opposition spokesmen
. Alternation in office ® constructive criticism
. Question Time
c) Checking government departments : the role of the select committees of the House of
Commons
. Departmental select committees
. Adhoc select committees
d) The House of Lords : specific aspects of its role
. The revising power of the House of Lords
. A limited power of veto

The relationship between Parliament and the people : how representative is the British
Parliament ?
a) Women in Parliament
b) Ethnic minorities
c) Non elected members of the House of Lords
d) MPs’role as representatives of their constituencies

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Recapitulation - The Fixed-Term Parliaments Act 2011 - see full text of the Act next pages.

As the so-called short title of the Act indicates, this Act, that is to say a law voted by the
British Parliament, aims at establishing fixed terms, that is to say a fixed duration between 2
general elections, for British Parliaments, thus ending British prime ministers' power to call a
general election at a time of their own choosing. Until that reform, the British Parliament had
no fixed term, which meant that the next general election could take place at any time after
the previous one, which in fact contributed additional power for British prime ministers who
could choose a date for a general election that might be favorable to their party. The only
statutory limit was imposed by the Parliament Act 1911, that required that the term of
Parliament did not exceed 5 years. Though since the mid 20th century general elections in
practice have been held every 4 years, it is clear that in times of national or international
crisis, when the party in office found circumstances difficult to win the next general election,
both Conservative and Labour prime ministers postponed the call for a general election till the
maximum statutory limit. That was the case in 1997, when Conservative Prime Minister John
Major waited the maximum time to call the election, as the Conservative Party was aware that
a victory was highly unlikely, and Labour Prime Minister Gordon brown faced the same
situation in 2010. In both cases, it seemed undemocratic that a party remained in office
whereas it had lost popular support. This constitutional reform, consisting in establishing
fixed terms for British Parliaments, was part of the deal made by the Conservatives and the
Liberal-Democrats when forming the Coalition government in May 2010. Though some
criticism had occasionally been passed on the flexibility of Westminster Parliaments' terms,
whose duration was left to the British prime minister's discretionary power, the passing of the
bill rather came as a surprise - in fact the Lords complained that that constitutional reform
should have been preceded by extensive scrutiny. Though this reform eventually aligns
British Parliaments' now fixed terms with most European legislatures, other criticism included
that the main motivation for the reform was to sustain the Coalition Government for a full
parliamentary term and that the proper length of term should be four years, not five.
So eventually, the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act 2011 received Royal Assent on 15 September
2011 and came into force on that same day. The Act has a major impact on the timing of
parliamentary elections in the UK, since future Parliaments will operate on a five-year cycle,
as well as for devolved institutions. Section 1 of the Act sets the date of the next general
election as 7 May 2015 and on the first Thursday in May in every fifth year thereafter. Section
2 fixes the rule concerning early elections, which can be held only:
• if a motion for an early general election is agreed either by at least two-thirds of the whole
House or without division or;
• if a motion of no confidence is passed and no alternative government is confirmed by the
Commons within 14 days.
Under section 3(1) of the Act, Parliament automatically dissolves 17 working days before
polling day.
The Act also provides for the next elections to the Scottish Parliament and the National
Assembly for Wales to be held on 5 May 2016, extending the normal four year term to five
years - elections to the 2 assemblies should have been held on the very same May 7, 2015, but
the Westminster Parliament found it inconvenient that the two categories of elections take
place on the same day . Still the Act also sets out that the 2 assemblies will revert to a 4-year
term after 2016. The Act did not specify an election date for the Northern Ireland Assembly,
whose election is also due on May 7, 2015, leaving it to Northern Ireland ministers to conduct
negotiations with the political parties.

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The following document is the text of legislation voted by Parliament in September


2011 concerning the duration of the British Parliament's term.

It features :
. the arms and mottoes of the British monarchy
. the short title of the Act: Fixed-Term Parliaments Act 2011
. its long title: 'An Act to make provision about ….'
. the enacting formula: 'Be it enacted by the Queen's most Excellent Majesty. ..'
. the provisions of the Act, divided into 'Sections' and 'Subsections'

Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011


2011 CHAPTER 14

An Act to make provision about the dissolution of Parliament and the


determination of polling days for parliamentary general elections; and for
connected purposes.

[15th September 2011]

Be it enacted by the Queen’s most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice
and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present
Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:—

Dissolution of Parliament
This section has no associated Explanatory Notes

(1)The Parliament then in existence dissolves at the beginning of the 17th


working day before the polling day for the next parliamentary general election
as determined under section 1 or appointed under section 2(7).

(2)Parliament cannot otherwise be dissolved.

(3)Once Parliament dissolves, the Lord Chancellor and, in relation to Northern


Ireland, the Secretary of State have the authority to have the writs for the
election sealed and issued (see rule 3 in Schedule 1 to the Representation of the
People Act 1983).

(4)Once Parliament dissolves, Her Majesty may issue the proclamation


summoning the new Parliament which may—

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(a)appoint the day for the first meeting of the new Parliament;
(b)deal with any other matter which was normally dealt with before the
passing of this Act by proclamations summoning new Parliaments (except a
matter dealt with by subsection (1) or (3)).

(5)In this section “working day” means any day other than—
(a) a Saturday or Sunday;
(b) a Christmas Eve, Christmas Day or Good Friday;
(c) a day which is a bank holiday under the Banking and Financial Dealings
Act 1971 in any part of the United Kingdom;
(d) a day appointed for public thanksgiving or mourning.

(6)But, if—
(a) on a day (“the relevant day”) one or more working days are fixed or
appointed as bank holidays or days for public thanksgiving or mourning, and
(b) as a result, the day for the dissolution of a Parliament would (apart from
this subsection) be brought forward from what it was immediately before the
relevant day to a day that is earlier than 30 days after the relevant day, the day
or days in question are to continue to be treated as working days (even if the
polling day is subsequently changed).

Early parliamentary general elections


This section has no associated Explanatory Notes
(1)An early parliamentary general election is to take place if—
(a)the House of Commons passes a motion in the form set out in subsection
(2), and
(b)if the motion is passed on a division, the number of members who vote in
favour of the motion is a number equal to or greater than two thirds of the
number of seats in the House (including vacant seats).

(2)The form of motion for the purposes of subsection (1)(a) is—


“That there shall be an early parliamentary general election.”

(3)An early parliamentary general election is also to take place if—


(a)the House of Commons passes a motion in the form set out in subsection
(4), and
(b)the period of 14 days after the day on which that motion is passed ends
without the House passing a motion in the form set out in subsection (5).

(4)The form of motion for the purposes of subsection (3)(a) is—


“That this House has no confidence in Her Majesty’s Government.”

(5)The form of motion for the purposes of subsection (3)(b) is—


« That this House has confidence in Her Majesty’s Government.”

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(6)Subsection (7) applies for the purposes of the Timetable in rule 1 in


Schedule 1 to the Representation of the People Act 1983.

(7)If a parliamentary general election is to take place as provided for by


subsection (1) or (3), the polling day for the election is to be the day appointed
by Her Majesty by proclamation on the recommendation of the Prime Minister
(and, accordingly, the appointed day replaces the day which would otherwise
have been the polling day for the next election determined under section 1).

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LECTURE 7 Specific aspects of the British House of Commons and


House of Lords

Keypoints
The House of Commons
. The lay-out of the chamber
. Frontbenchers, backbenchers and crossbenchers
. The Speaker
. Ritual and ceremony in the House
. Voting procedure in the House : divisions
. The Whips
. Departmental select committees, standing committees and adhoc select committees

The House of Lords


. Composition of the transitional House, as a result of the House of Lords Act of 1999
. Peers and peeresses, hereditary or life members, religious peers, judicial lords (law lords)
. Reforms of the House of Lords ® the Parliament Act of 1911
® the Parliament Act of 1949
® the House of Lords Act of 1999
. The revising role of the House of Lords - Lords, a different brand of legislators cf
party allegiance
cf Lords’very varied professional backgrounds
. Debates in the House of Lords
. The select committees of the House of Lords
- the European Union Committee
- the Select Committee on Science and Tehnology
. The Government White Paper for the second stage of the reform of the House of Lords

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The Work of a backbench MP


extracted from BBC, Bitesize Guide to the UK Parliament

The constitutional role of a backbench MP is to represent his/her constituents, even those who
did not vote for them or did not vote at all. At the same time, many backbench MPs will feel
that they have a responsibility to their political party.
Sometimes the views of the party may come into conflict with the views of constituents.
Backbench MPs, in this case, must make a choice; either to upset their local constituents or
upset the party whip.

Backbench MPs inside Parliament - Inside the House of Commons, Backbench MPs
participate in Parliamentary Committees by scrutinising Bills and proposing amendments to
Bills.
They may speak during Commons debates and will regularly vote in these debates. They will
question Ministers, including the Prime Minister.
While there is not much time available, they may try to introduce a Private Members Bill.

Backbench MPs outside Parliament - Outside of Parliament, a backbench MP will do work


in their Constituency, communicating with their constituents by writing letters, emails and
replying to phone calls. Often MPs will hold 'surgeries' where constituents can ask questions
or get help with problems. Some MPs will send a newsletter sent out to constituents and
communicate via their own website or social media presence.
MPs will be asked to attend a great deal of meetings and events, including with their local
constituency party. They require the support of the local party to ensure that they will be
selected to stand in future elections.

*****

March 24, 2015

How effective are Backbenchers in the House of Commons


by Theo Cox Dodgson, student at Woodhouse College London, Patel's Shop, A Level Politics

Backbenchers form the majority of MPs on both sides in the House of Commons, but the
extent of their effectiveness is questionable given the power of the executive
One way in which they are not effective is that they are mainly controlled and curtailed by the
whips system, meaning despite revolts on 37% of divisions between 2010 and the present, the
government has only been defeated 7 times in the Commons. The rebellions rarely exceed a
dozen of the most radical Tory MPS, and the governments working majority of over 70 means
they are rarely effective at forming a resistance to the power of the executive. However the
few defeats there have been are often significant- for example the 2013 Syrian civil war
motion was defeated by 30 Tory rebel MPS and this in turn stopped the US going to war-
seriously affecting global geopolitics in the Middle East.
Backbenchers introducing private members bills are also constrained by lack of time. If the
executive does not grant a private members bill adequate time for debate it will rarely get
through the many stages of the legislative process. For example in 2012 Douglas Carswell,
who was a Conservative MP at the time, proposed a private members bill to repeal the 1972
European communities act. It did not pass the first reading. The executive is solely in control

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over private members bill and very few will ever pass unless they support it at which point it
ceases to be a private members bill in all but official title. According to the Guardian between
2009-2010 of the 77 private members bills tabled, only 7 received Royal Assent. However
private members bills are often effective at making a point, the previously mentioned example
proving Douglas Carswells euroscepticism.

Select Committees are a relevantly recent innovation of the House of Commons, and they
allow backbenchers to hold inquires far more intelligent and probing than the spectacle
debates in the Commons debate chamber. Often these committees are very effective, for
example an inquiry into the preparedness of the government for the 2010 Icelandic volcano by
the Science Select committee likely influenced the executive to be more prepared in the
future. However findings of select committees are rarely as publicly known as debate
chamber sound bites, so few know of the work they do and thus politicians are at liberty to
ignore them as they see fit.
Finally a post 2010 reform of the House of Commons introduced the Backbench Business
Committee, which is a forum for backbenchers to debate topical issues of the day. A
prominent example was when on November 20th 2014 Conservative MP Steve Baker
conducted the first debate in the Commons on money creation for over 150 years, a debate
supported by prominent backbench MPS Michael Meecher (Labour), Douglas Carswell
(UKIP) and Caroline Lucas (Green). The debate was widely watched on Youtube and
educated many on the flaws of current monetary policy in a way not hindered by party whips
or political correctness. However again due to limited time, and many debate motions wishing
to be discussed, the Backbench Business Committee is limited in their ability to serve the
interests of all backbench MPs, let alone the large number of e-petitions

In conclusion, while backbenchers are having more of an influence in recent years, the
executive still has a strong stranglehold over them and their activities, and thus they are really
limited in their effectiveness in shaping world events.

*****

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Lords by party, type of peerage and gender


These tables show eligible members of the House of Lords who can scrutinise bills,
investigate government activity through committee work, and question government through
oral questions and debates.
The Lords has currently – April 2017 - 802 members, and a chamber built to seat 240. The
average age is 69.
There is a library, a dining room, a tea room, a bar, committee rooms and offices (six peers
can share just one office). Apart from the 92 hereditary peers who survived the 1999 reform,
life peers include a variety of personalities such as scientists, historians, former civil servants,
lawyers, surgeons, party hacks and donors, a dentist, a cheese maker, former MPs, diplomats,
a children’s TV presenter and 26 bishops.

Party/group Life peers / Hereditary peers Total


Bishops 0 0 25
Conservative 204 49 253
Crossbench 145 32 177
Labour 197 4 201
Liberal Democrat 98 4 102
Non-affiliated 30 0 30
Other 13 1

: Life 90 hereditary peers and


Total Bishops
687 peers, 25
802 members in the House of Lords

Lords by party/group and gender


Party/group Men Women Total
Bishops 23 2 25
Conservative 191 62 253
Crossbench 137 40 177
Labour 137 64 201
Liberal Democrat 68 34 102
Non-affiliated 26 4 30
Other 13 1 14

Total : 595 men, 207 women

LECTURE 8 Devolution in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland

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Keypoints
Introduction . Devolution, or regional autonomy
. Devolution, a Labour policy originally opposed by the Conservatives
Devolution in Wales and Scotland : general remarks
. A brief recapitulation of the relationship between England and Wales and
Scotland
. Wesh and Scottish economies
. The first Welsh and Scottish referendums of 1979
. The Welsh and Scottish referendums of 1997
Devolution in Wales
. The Welsh Assembly : mode of election ; limited legislative powers ; the first
elected assembly
. The Welsh executive
. Towards a Welsh Parliament ?
Devolution in Scotland
. The Scottish Parliament : mode of election of the MSPs
. The extended powers of the Scottish Parliament
. The Scottish first minister
. Devolution in Scotland : a step towards complete independence ?
Home rule in Northern Ireland
. England and Ireland : a long history of conflicts
. A brief history of home rule in Ireland until 1921, and in Northern Ireland
since 1921
. The Good Friday Agreement, 1998
. The first elected Northern Ireland Assembly, 1998
. The Northern Ireland Executive Committee, and the First Minister
. What future for Northern Ireland ?
. Some key words to understand and talk about Northern Ireland
Update on devolution
. The Scotland Acts, 2012 & 2016
. The 2011 referendum on further law-making powers for Wales, the St
David’s
Agreement, and The Wales Act 2017
. The Stormont House Agreement 2014, followed by the Fresh Start Agreement
in 2015

last updated : April 2017

Devolution: A beginner's guide BBC News, 28 April 2010

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Since 1999, the way the United Kingdom is run has


been transformed by devolution - a process designed
to decentralise government and give more powers to
the three nations which, together with England, make
up the UK.
The United Kingdom is made up of England, Wales,
Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Devolution essentially means the transfer of powers from
the UK parliament in London to assemblies in Cardiff and
Belfast, and the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh.

Devolution: The view from Scotland, Wales and Northern


Ireland
When did it begin? Public votes were held in 1997 in Scotland
and Wales, and a year later in both parts of Ireland. This
resulted in the creation of the Scottish Parliament, the National
Assembly for Wales and the Northern Ireland Assembly.
Devolution applied in different ways in each nation due to historical and administrative differences.
What powers are devolved? The table below gives an overview of the main powers given to
the Northern Irish and Welsh assemblies, and the Scottish Parliament.
MAJOR DEVOLVED POWERS
SCOTLAND WALES N. IRELAND
Agriculture, forestry & Agriculture, forestry &
Agriculture
fishing fishing
Education Education Education
Environment Environment Environment
Health & social
Health Health
welfare
Enterprise, trade &
Housing Housing
investment
Justice, policing &
Local government Social services
courts*
Local government Fire & rescue services Justice & policing
Fire service Highways & transport
Economic
Economic development
development
Some transport
*Scotland has always had its own legal system

What powers are not devolved? The UK government is responsible for national policy on
all powers which have not been devolved. These are known usually as "reserved powers" and
include foreign affairs, defence, international relations and economic policy. This table gives
an overview of the main non-devolved powers.

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MAJOR NON-DEVOLVED POWERS


SCOTLAND WALES N. IRELAND
Defence & national Defence & national
Constitution
security security
Defence & national
Economic policy Foreign policy
security
Foreign policy Foreign policy Nationality
Energy Energy Energy**
Immigration & Immigration &
nationality nationality
Trade & industry [see footnote +]
Some transport
Social security
** - specified as "nuclear energy & installations"
+ - Non-devolved powers in Wales are by implication all those not set
out in the 2006 Government of Wales Act
The Westminster Parliament is technically still able to pass laws for any part of the UK, but in
practice only deals with devolved matters with the agreement of the devolved governments.
Devolution in Northern Ireland
Devolution here is slightly different to Scotland and
Wales, with government powers divided into three
categories: transferred, reserved and excepted. The
power-sharing agreement between the Nationalist and
Unionist communities in Northern Ireland is critical to the
functioning of the assembly; devolution of powers has
been suspended and reinstated several times since its
inception in 1998.
In addition to the main devolved powers shown in the
table, the assembly can also legislate on culture, arts and
leisure, learning and employment and regional and social
development. In March 2010, an agreement was passed to
transfer powers of justice and policing to Northern The Northern Ireland Assembly
Ireland. sits at Stormont in Belfast

Reserved powers - which could be transferred in the future with cross-community consent -
include prisons and civil defence.
A third category - excepted powers - includes matters such as parliamentary and assembly
elections, international relations and defence. These cannot be transferred without primary
legislation from Westminster.

Devolution in Scotland

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Scotland has a "parliament" as opposed to an "assembly" -


the crucial difference being that Holyrood is a legislation-
making body, passing bills in various areas of its many
devolved responsibilities.
The Scottish parliament also has the power to raise or
lower the basic rate of income tax by 3p in the pound -
although this so-called "Tartan Tax" has never been used.
In addition to the main devolved powers shown in the
table, the parliament can legislate on tourism, economic
development, planning, natural and built heritage, sport
and the arts, as well as statistics, public registers and
records. The Scottish parliament is based at
Holyrood in Edinburgh
The primary powers retained by Westminster include
foreign policy, defence and trade and industry.

Devolution in Wales
The Government of Wales Act of 2006 gives the Welsh
assembly powers to make its own laws, but limits its
scope to defined "fields"; a broad subject area such as
education or health. Within these fields, the assembly is
able to enact its own laws, known as measures. The major
areas in which the assembly can legislate are listed in the
table above. In addition, the assembly can make laws
relating to ancient monuments and historic buildings,
public administration, sport and recreation, tourism, town
and country planning, flood defences, the assembly itself,
and the Welsh language. By omission, anything not
contained in the current list of measures remains under
the control of the Parliament in Westminster.
The Welsh Assembly building is
The assembly is split into executive and legislative in Cardiff
branches: the Welsh assembly government controls day-to-day running of devolved policy
areas within the country, while the National Assembly for Wales scrutinises and debates the
assembly government's work.

The assembly could increase its powers in the future and may one day evolve into a body
similar to the Scottish Parliament. In February 2010, assembly members voted in favour of
holding a referendum on devolving further powers from Westminster. This motion must now
gain approval from both Houses of Parliament.
Why is there not an 'English parliament'?

The UK government is responsible for all matters in England which have been devolved to
Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. However devolution has caused some tensions,
particularly over public spending. The new powers of the Scottish Parliament have allowed it
to abolish university tuition fees and prescription charges. These services are not free in
England. However Scotland's public services are still paid for by all UK taxpayers under the
terms of the Barnett formula, which allocates funding around different parts of the country.

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Some in England are increasingly unhappy, seeing this as English taxpayers subsidising free
services in Scotland. A recent survey of 980 people by the left-leaning think tank the Institute
for Public Policy Research suggested 40% of those questioned believe this situation unfair,
compared with 22% in 2003. Delivering the report, Professor John Curtice said if the trends
continued, politicians "may no longer be able to safely assume that England can be ignored in
the devolution debate".

Welsh devolution : The reluctant dragon


The Economist, November 24th 2012
Like Scotland, Wales is growing more independent from Westminster. Unlike Scotland, it isn’t
too happy about it

TOWARDS the end of the 13th century Edward I launched a series of attacks intended to
quell the rebellions of Llywelyn ap Gruffydd, a tempestuous Welsh prince, and conquer
Wales for the English crown. The wars, which littered Wales with hundreds of castles, cost
the king around ten times his annual income. His huge debts probably stopped Edward from
subjugating Scotland a decade later. Now the Scots are returning the favour they owe the
Welsh.
In 2014 Scotland will decide whether to leave the United Kingdom. Whatever the outcome,
the nation is charging towards greater independence from Westminster. Wales is caught in
Scotland’s slipstream. On November 19th the first part of a review conducted by Paul Silk, a
clerk of the House of Commons, recommended giving the Welsh government more power to
raise taxes and borrow to pay for infrastructure projects. His commission is now investigating
Wales’s constitutional position. In a year it will suggest more powers for the Welsh Assembly
government.
If Westminster adopts the proposals, as it seems minded to, Wales will get the sort of powers
Scotland has had since 1998. That would be remarkable. Wales has little history as an
independent state. It shares England’s legal system. Only around 10% of its 3m population

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consistently backs independence, far less than in Scotland. Welshness is more cultural than
political: rugby and the Welsh language define it more than any institution.
Yet Wales is steadily diverging from England, albeit much less raucously than Scotland. In
1997 the Welsh narrowly voted to create an elected National Assembly. Since then the
country has quietly pursued distinct policies. Tuition fees are heavily subsidised and doctors’
prescriptions are free. Wales has no academies or free schools—centrepieces of an
educational revolution in England—nor even official school league tables. Most
controversially, the Welsh have opted to cut the budget of the National Health Service instead
of imposing deeper cuts on other bits of the state—something viewed as politically toxic in
Westminster.

Last year, following another referendum, the Welsh Assembly gained the power to write its
own laws in 20 devolved areas; previously, some Welsh decisions needed Westminster’s
agreement. Control over taxation would make the Welsh government more accountable to its
electorate and give its politicians a stake in improving the country’s economic fortunes.
Added to the eventual outcome in Scotland—whether it is independence, as nationalists want,
or more devolution, as unionists offer—it would be a big step towards a more federal United
Kingdom.
Unlike Scotland, though, Wales is less than ready for this step. These days Scotland is
evidently a different country. Economically, culturally and politically, Wales is still wedded
to England. Scotland is forcing federalism on the United Kingdom, unsettling England’s
western neighbour.
Carwyn Jones, Wales’s first minister, reckons he could use independent tax-setting powers to
cut air-passenger duty, which would give Cardiff Airport a competitive advantage over its
English competitor, Bristol. He hints at borrowing against revenues, perhaps from the tolls
from the Severn Bridge, to do up the M4 motorway, which connects south Wales to London.
But on the most radical of the Silk Commission’s suggestions, control over income tax, he
fudges his answer.
Indeed, that proposal has led to much embarrassed foot-shuffling. In theory, the Welsh
Labour and Conservative parties favour a referendum on whether Wales should get control
over income tax. In practice, Labour, the dominant party in the Welsh Assembly, is not keen.
Labour MPs fear that a taxing-and-spending Wales could make it even harder for the national
party to regain a reputation for fiscal continence. And Roger Scully of the Wales Governance
Centre points out that few would fight hard for tax-raising powers, which sound rather like tax
raises to the untrained ear.
One reason for this hesitation is the Welsh government’s weak mandate. The rapid ascent of
the Scottish National Party to a majority has made the Scottish Parliament impossible to
ignore. By contrast, Plaid Cymru, Wales’s nationalist party, has just 11 out of 60 seats in the
Welsh Assembly. Few in Wales follow the Assembly or care greatly about what it does.
Rosemary Butler, its presiding officer, claims that the Welsh BBC spent more time analysing
the fate of Shambo, a sacred cow infected with bovine tuberculosis, than the results of
Assembly elections in 2007. Devolution requires more people to pay attention.
An even bigger obstacle to a stronger Welsh state is its weak economy. Wales depends
heavily on English money. Some 26% of the workforce is employed by the government, the
highest level anywhere in Britain other than in Northern Ireland, where state spending has
been used to buy peace. Mr Jones argues that Wales cannot afford to raise a large proportion

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of its own revenues. Others, such as Geraint Davies, the Labour MP for Swansea West, argue
that the entire idea is a trap set by the coalition government in Westminster to cut Wales’s
grant.

Tax devolution could curtail inward investment, the main source of what private-sector
growth Wales has enjoyed. And Wales is not a natural economic unit, says Kevin Morgan, a
development expert at Cardiff University. Its north is dependent on the economy of the
English north-west; its south is linked to Bristol and London. Many people commute from
one country to the other, and businesses worry about the consequences of separate tax
regimes.
Even within south Wales, the contrasts are striking. Cardiff, the capital, has boomed since
1997, attracting lots of new investment. But other bits have stagnated. In Merthyr Tydfil, an
old mining town, teenagers hang around fading shopping centres aimlessly, while pensioners
spend their days drinking in battered old pubs. One bizarre by-product of industrial decline in
Welsh mining towns is an epidemic of steroid abuse by young men.
Self-determination would mean taking responsibility for such problems. Wales has not asked
for that, nor is it ready. But as Mr Jones points out, not only is Scotland pulling away from the
rest of the United Kingdom, many in Westminster seem keen to profoundly redefine Britain’s
relationship with the European Union—which is rather more popular in Wales and Scotland
than in England. Britain’s constitutional make-up is changing dramatically. Whether it likes it
or not, Wales will have to find its place.

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LECTURE 9 Britain and the Commonwealth


Britain and Europe

Keypoints
The Commonwealth
- A brief historical perspective of the Commonwealth
. The British Empire
. Dominion status
. The Statute of Westminster, 1931
. Early members of the Commonwealth
- The Commonwealth today : sovereign states and dependent territories
- The Commonwealth organisation
. The Commonwealth Secretariat
. The Commonwealth Fund for Technical Cooperation
. The British monarch’s role
. Meetings of the Commonwealth heads of government
- Changing roles for the Commonwealth
. Originally, peaceful retreat from the Empire and economic cooperation
. The effect of the Cold War on the relationship between Commonwealth
countries
. Conflict over sanctions against South Africa in the 1980s
. A new role in the last decade of the 20th century : the maintenance of peace,
freedom and
security
- Tony Blair’s intention to modernise the Commonwealth into an « economic powerhouse »

Britain and Europe


. Britain, at the intersection of Europe and the Commonwealth
. Key dates in the European process
. Treaty of Paris , 1951 ® the European Coal and Steel Community
. Treaty of Rome, 1957 ® the Common Market and the
European Atomic Energy
Community
. The Single European Act, 1986 ® the Economic and Monetary
Union (EMU)
. Treaty on European Union, 1992 (the so-called Maastricht Treaty)
. Treaty of Amsterdam, 1997
. Britain’s membership of EFTA (European Free Trade Association)
. Britain’s first application to the European Community, 1963
. The European Communities Act, 1972 ® Britain joined the European Communities on
January 1st, 1973
. The national referendum , 1974
. Britain and the CAP (Common Agricultural Policy)
. Britain and the euro
. Europhobes, Europhiles and Eurosceptics
. British political parties’ attitudes to Europe
. Tony Blair’s intention to organise a referendum on the euro

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Brexit: All you need to know about the UK leaving the EU


extracts from BBC News , by Alex Hunt & Brian Wheeler, 25 April 2017
What does Brexit mean? It is a word that has become used as a shorthand way of saying
the UK leaving the EU - merging the words Britain and exit to get Brexit, in a same way as a
possible Greek exit from the euro was dubbed Grexit in the past.

Why is Britain leaving the European Union? A referendum - a vote in which everyone (or
nearly everyone) of voting age can take part - was held on Thursday 23 June, 2016, to decide
whether the UK should leave or remain in the European Union. Leave won by 51.9% to
48.1%. The referendum turnout was 71.8%, with more than 30 million people voting.
What was the breakdown across the UK? England voted for Brexit, by 53.4% to 46.6%.
Wales also voted for Brexit, with Leave getting 52.5% of the vote and Remain 47.5%.
Scotland and Northern Ireland both backed staying in the EU. Scotland backed Remain by
62% to 38%, while 55.8% in Northern Ireland voted Remain and 44.2% Leave.
What changed in government after the referendum? Britain got a new Prime Minister -
Theresa May. The former home secretary took over from David Cameron, who announced he
was resigning on the day he lost the referendum. Like Mr Cameron, Mrs May was against
Britain leaving the EU but she played only a very low-key role in the campaign and was never
seen as much of an enthusiast for the EU. She became PM without facing a full Conservative
leadership contest after her key rivals from what had been the Leave side pulled out.

Where does she stand on Brexit? Theresa May had been against Brexit during the
referendum campaign but is now in favour of it because she says it is what the British people
want. Her key message has been that "Brexit means Brexit" and she triggered the two year
process of leaving the EU on 29 March. She set out her negotiating goals in a letter to the EU
council president Donald Tusk.
Why has she called a general election? Theresa May became prime minister after David
Cameron resigned, so has not won her own election. She ruled out calling a snap election
when she moved into Downing Street, saying the country needed a period of stability after the
upheaval of the Brexit vote. She said she was happy to wait until the next scheduled election
in 2020. But she surprised everyone after the Easter Bank Holiday by announcing that she had
changed her mind with an election being called for Thursday, 8 June 2017.
The reason she gave was that she needed to strengthen her hand in Brexit negotiations with
European leaders. She feared Labour, the SNP and other opposition parties - and members of
the House of Lords - would try to block and frustrate her strategy, making the country look
divided to other EU leaders and making her government look weak.
Mrs May inherited a tiny Commons majority from David Cameron, meaning that it only takes
a few Conservative MPs to side with the opposition to vote down the government's plans. The
Conservatives began the election campaign with a big lead over Labour in the opinion polls,
What about the economy, so far? David Cameron, his Chancellor George Osborne and
many other senior figures who wanted to stay in the EU predicted an immediate economic
crisis if the UK voted to leave. House prices would fall, there would be a recession with a big
rise in unemployment - and an emergency Budget would be needed to bring in the large cuts
in spending that would be needed.

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The pound did slump the day after the referendum - and remains around 15% lower against
the dollar and 10% down against the euro - but the predictions of immediate doom have not
proved accurate with the UK economy estimated to have grown 1.8% in 2016, second only to
Germany's 1.9% among the world's G7 leading industrialised nations.
Inflation has risen - to 2.3% in February - its highest rate for three and a half years, but
unemployment has continued to fall, to stand at an 11 year low of 4.8%. Annual house price
increases have fallen from 9.4% in June but were still at an inflation-busting 7.4% in
December, according to official ONS figures.

What is Article 50? Article 50 is a plan for any country that wishes to exit the EU. It was
created as part of the Treaty of Lisbon - an agreement signed up to by all EU states which
became law in 2009. Before that treaty, there was no formal mechanism for a country to leave
the EU. It's pretty short - just five paragraphs - which spell out that any EU member state
may decide to quit the EU, that it must notify the European Council and negotiate its
withdrawal with the EU, that there are two years to reach an agreement - unless everyone
agrees to extend it - and that the exiting state cannot take part in EU internal discussions about
its departure.
What date will the UK will leave the EU? For the UK to leave the EU it had to invoke
Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty which gives the two sides two years to agree the terms of the
split. Theresa May triggered this process on 29 March, meaning the UK is scheduled to leave
on Friday, 29 March 2019. It can be extended if all 28 EU members agree.
What happens if there is a different government after the general election? Brexit
would still go ahead if Labour wins the election. Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has ruled out a
second referendum - but he has said MPs will get a decisive say on the final Brexit agreement
with the EU, which means the UK might try to go back to the negotiating table to push for a
better deal.
The Liberal Democrats are against a "hard Brexit" (see below) and have promised a second
referendum on the terms of any deal. They have also ruled out any coalition deals with Labour
or the Conservatives, aiming instead to become the UK's main opposition party - a big leap
from their current position of having just nine MPs.

SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon has been pushing for Scotland - which voted to remain in the EU
- to have a special status after Brexit, including remaining in the single market. She has called
for a second independence referendum before the Brexit package has been finalised.
What's going to happen to all the EU laws in force in the UK? The Conservatives will
enact a Great Repeal Bill, if they win the general election. This will end the primacy of EU
law in the UK. This Great Repeal Bill is supposed to incorporate all EU legislation into UK
law in one lump, after which the government will decide over a period of time which parts to
keep, change or remove.
Labour has said they will scrap the Great Repeal Bill if they win the election and replace it
with an EU Rights and Protections Bill, which will copy across all EU law into UK law but
make sure it cannot be changed or scrapped. The party says it wants to keep EU laws on
workers rights, consumer rights and the environment.

What was the Supreme Court Brexit case about? After a court battle, the UK's Supreme
Court ruled in January that Parliament had to be consulted before Article 50 was invoked.
That was why a two line Brexit bill went through Parliament. MPs approved it after Labour

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MPs were told to support it. But it was amended in the House of Lords to include a call to
guarantee the rights of EU citizens already in the UK and to ensure a "meaningful vote" for
Parliament before any Brexit deal was agreed with the EU. MPs reversed those changes and
the unamended bill became law after the Lords backed down, with Labour peers dropping
their backing for the changes. That cleared the way for Mrs May to send her letter to the EU
officially announcing that the UK was leaving.
Who is going to negotiate Britain's exit from the EU? Theresa May set up a government
department, headed by veteran Conservative MP and Leave campaigner David Davis, to take
responsibility for Brexit. Former defence secretary, Liam Fox, who also campaigned to leave
the EU, was given the new job of international trade secretary and Boris Johnson, who was a
leader of the official Leave campaign, is foreign secretary. If the government wins the general
election, these men - dubbed the Three Brexiteers - are each set to play roles in negotiations
with the EU and seek out new international agreements, although it would be Mrs May, as
prime minister, who would have the final say.

How long will it take for Britain to leave the EU? Once Article 50 is triggered, the UK has
two years to negotiate its withdrawal. But no one really knows how the Brexit process will
work - Article 50 was only created in late 2009 and it has never been used. Former Foreign
Secretary Philip Hammond, who was appointed chancellor by Theresa May, wanted Britain to
remain in the EU during the referendum campaign and suggested it could take up to six years
for the UK to complete exit negotiations. The terms of Britain's exit will have to be agreed by
27 national parliaments, a process which could take some years, he has argued.

EU law still stands in the UK until it ceases being a member. The UK will continue to abide
by EU treaties and laws, but not take part in any decision-making.
Why will Brexit take so long? Unpicking 43 years of treaties and agreements covering
thousands of different subjects was never going to be a straightforward task. It is further
complicated by the fact that it has never been done before and negotiators will, to some
extent, be making it up as they go along. The post-Brexit trade deal is likely to be the most
complex part of the negotiation because it needs the unanimous approval of more than 30
national and regional parliaments across Europe, some of whom may want to hold
referendums.

The likely focus of negotiations between the UK and EU Theresa May has made it clear
that the UK will not seek to stay in the EU single market if she remains prime minister.
Labour has said it wants the UK to retain all the benefits of being in the single market, even
though it does not necessarily have be a member. Staying in the single market mean the UK
staying under the auspices of the European Court of Justice and having to allow unlimited EU
immigration, under freedom of movement rules. We found out more detail about Mrs May's
negotiating priorities in the letter officially triggering the process of the leaving the EU on 29
March.
Mrs May says she wants the UK to reach a new customs union deal with the EU. A customs
union is where countries agree not to impose tariffs on each others' goods and have a common
tariff on goods coming in from elsewhere. The UK is currently part of the EU customs union
but that stops the UK being able to do its own trade deals with other countries.
What do 'soft' and 'hard' Brexit mean? These terms have increasingly been used as
debate focused on the terms of the UK's departure from the EU. There is no strict definition of

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either, but they are used to refer to the closeness of the UK's relationship with the EU post-
Brexit.
So at one extreme, "hard" Brexit could involve the UK refusing to compromise on issues like
the free movement of people even if meant leaving the single market. At the other end of the
scale, a "soft" Brexit might follow a similar path to Norway, which is a member of the single
market and has to accept the free movement of people as a result of that.

What happens if there is no deal with the EU? Conservative leader Theresa May says
leaving the EU with no deal whatsoever would be better than signing the UK up to a bad one.
Without an agreement on trade, the UK would have to operate under World Trade
Organisation rules, which could mean customs checks and tariffs.
Labour says the idea of walking away with no deal must not be an option, and it would give
MPs a say on the final Brexit deal - but it has ruled out a second referendum on the terms of
that deal.
Some argue leaving the single market would make little difference because the UK's trading
partners in the EU would not want to start a trade war. Others say it will mean greater costs
for UK businesses buying and selling goods abroad.

There are also questions about what would happen to Britain's position as global financial
centre, without access to the single market, and the land border between the UK and Ireland.
There is also concern that Brits living abroad in the EU could lose residency rights and access
to free emergency health care.
What happens to EU citizens living in the UK? The Conservatives has declined to give a
firm guarantee about the status of EU nationals currently living in the UK, saying this is not
possible without a reciprocal pledge from other EU members about the millions of British
nationals living on the continent.
Labour has said it would guarantee the rights of of EU citizens living in the UK to stay there
on "day one" of a Labour government.

Whatever happens in the general election, EU nationals with a right to permanent residence,
which is granted after they have lived in the UK for five years, should not see their rights
affected.

What happens to UK citizens working in the EU? A lot depends on the kind of deal the
UK agrees with the EU. If the government opted to impose work permit restrictions on EU
nationals, then other countries could reciprocate, meaning Britons would have to apply for
visas to work.
What about EU nationals who want to work in the UK? Again, it depends on whether the
UK government decides to introduce a work permit system of the kind that currently applies
to non-EU citizens, limiting entry to skilled workers in professions where there are shortages.
Citizens' Advice has reminded people their rights have not changed yet and asked anyone to
contact them if they think they have been discriminated against following the Leave vote.

What does the fall in the value of the pound mean for prices in the shops? People
travelling overseas from the UK have found their pounds are buying fewer euros or dollars
after the Brexit vote. The day-to-day spending impact is likely to be more significant. Even if

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the pound regains some of its value, currency experts expect it to remain at least 10% below
where it was on 23 June, in the long term.
This means imported goods will consequently get more expensive - some price rises for food,
clothing and homeware goods have already been seen and the issue was most notably
illustrated by the dispute between Tesco and Marmite's makers about whether prices would be
put up or not in the stores.

The latest UK inflation figures, for February, showed the CPI inflation rate rising to 2.3%, its
highest level for three and a half years, with signs of more cost pressures set to feed through
in the months to come.
Will immigration be cut? Conservative leader Theresa May has said one of the main
messages she has taken from the Leave vote is that the British people want to see a reduction
in immigration. She has said this will be a focus of Brexit negotiations as she remains
committed to getting net migration - the difference between the numbers entering and leaving
the country - down to a "sustainable" level, which she defines as being below 100,000 a year.
Labour has said the free movement of people has to end when Britain leaves the EU. It has yet
to reveal what system it would use for people who come to the UK for work or study.

In the year to September net migration was 273,000 a year, of which 165,000 were EU
citizens, and 164,000 were from outside the EU - the figures include a 56,000 outflow of UK
citizens. That net migration figure is 49,000 lower than the year before.

Could there be a second referendum? It seems highly unlikely. Both the Conservatives
and the Labour Party have ruled out another referendum, arguing that it would be an
undemocratic breach of trust with the British people who clearly voted to Leave.
The Liberal Democrats have vowed to hold a second referendum on the terms of the Brexit
deal reached with the EU - but they would have to gain a lot more MPs than their current nine
to stand a chance of getting what they want.
Will MPs get a vote on the Brexit deal? Yes. Theresa May has appeared keen to avoid a
vote on her negotiating stance, to avoid having to give away her priorities, but she has
promised there will be a Commons and Lords vote to approve whatever deal the UK and the
rest of the EU agree at the end of the two year process.

Labour is also promising a vote in Parliament, but unlike the Conservatives they want to give
MPs and peers the power to send the UK back to the negotiating table if they don't like the
terms of the deal. The Conservative vote would be on a "take it or leave it basis".
It is worth mentioning that any deal also has to be agreed by the European Parliament - with
British MEPs getting a chance to vote on it there.

Some say we could still remain in the single market - but what is a single market? The
single market is seen by its advocates as the EU's biggest achievement and one of the main
reasons it was set up in the first place. Britain was a member of a free trade area in Europe
before it joined what was then known as the common market. In a free trade area countries
can trade with each other without paying tariffs - but it is not a single market because the
member states do not have to merge their economies together.
The European Union single market, which was completed in 1992, allows the free movement
of goods, services, money and people within the European Union, as if it was a single

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country. It is possible to set up a business or take a job anywhere within it. The idea was to
boost trade, create jobs and lower prices. But it requires common law-making to ensure
products are made to the same technical standards and imposes other rules to ensure a "level
playing field".
Critics say it generates too many petty regulations and robs members of control over their
own affairs. Mass migration from poorer to richer countries has also raised questions about
the free movement rule. Theresa May has ruled out the UK staying in the single market.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has said continued membership of the single has to be an option
in negotiations with Brussels.
Has any other member state ever left the EU? No nation state has ever left the EU. But
Greenland, one of Denmark's overseas territories, held a referendum in 1982, after gaining a
greater degree of self government, and voted by 52% to 48% to leave, which it duly did after
a period of negotiation.
What does this mean for Scotland? Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said in the
wake of the Leave result that it was "democratically unacceptable" that Scotland faced being
taken out of the EU when it voted to Remain. She said Mrs May's decision to rule out the UK
staying in the single market meant Scotland should have a choice between a "hard Brexit" and
becoming an independent country, possibly in the EU. Ms Sturgeon has officially asked for
permission for a second referendum to be held, saying that she wanted the vote to be held
between the autumn of 2018 and spring 2019. Theresa May has said "this is not the time" for
a second referendum.
What does it mean for Northern Ireland? The land border between Northern Ireland and
EU member the Republic of Ireland is likely to be a key part of the Brexit talks. There is
currently a common travel area between the UK and the Republic. Like Scotland, Northern
Ireland voted to remain in the EU in last year's referendum. The result in Northern Ireland
was 56% for Remain and 44% for Leave.

Sinn Fein, which was part of the ruling coalition in the Northern Ireland Assembly before it
was suspended, has called for a referendum on leaving the UK and joining the Republic of
Ireland as soon as possible.

The Conservatives have rejected Sinn Fein's call, saying there was no evidence opinion had
shifted in favour of a united Ireland.
But Conservative Brexit spokesman David Davis has said that should the people of Northern
Ireland ever vote to leave the UK, they would "be in a position of becoming part of an
existing EU member state, rather than seeking to join the EU as a new independent state". It
would then be up to the EU Commission "to respond to any specific questions about the
procedural requirements for that to happen," he added. But Mr Davis said the UK
government's "clear position is to support Northern Ireland's current constitutional status: as
part of the UK, but with strong links to Ireland".

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn says there should be a referendum on Irish unity if the Northern
Ireland Assembly wants one.
Could MPs block an EU exit? Could the necessary legislation pass the Commons, given
that a lot of MPs in the current Parliament - all SNP and Lib Dems, nearly all Labour and
many Conservatives - were in favour of staying? The referendum result is not legally binding

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- Parliament still has to pass the laws that will get Britain out of the 28 nation bloc, starting
with the repeal of the 1972 European Communities Act.
The withdrawal agreement also has to be ratified by Parliament - the House of Lords and/or
the Commons could vote against ratification, according to a House of Commons library
report.
Will leaving the EU mean we don't have to abide by the European Court of Human
Rights? The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg is not a European
Union institution. It was set up by the Council of Europe, which has 47 members including
Russia and Ukraine. So quitting the EU will not exempt the UK from its decisions.
However, if the Conservatives win the general election they are committed to repealing the
Human Rights Act which requires UK courts to treat the ECHR as setting legal precedents for
the UK, in favour of a British Bill of Rights. As part of that, a Conservative government
would be expected to announce measures that will boost the powers of courts in England and
Wales to over-rule judgements handed down by the ECHR.
The Labour Party, the Liberal Democrats and the Green Party have all campaigned against
Conservative proposals to repeal the Human Rights Act.

The EU also has its own European Court of Justice, whose decisions are binding on EU
institutions and member states. Its rulings have sometimes caused controversy in Britain and
supporters of a Brexit have called for immediate legislation to curb its powers.

Will the UK be able to rejoin the EU in the future?


BBC Europe editor Katya Adler says the UK would have to start from scratch with no rebate,
and enter accession talks with the EU. Every member state would have to agree to the UK re-
joining. But she says with elections looming elsewhere in Europe, other leaders might not be
generous towards any UK demands. New members are required to adopt the euro as their
currency, once they meet the relevant criteria, although the UK could try to negotiate an opt-
out.

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LECTURE 10 - Current issues in the UK / June 2016 – April 2017

Selected issues

The British press : general characteristics

Theresa May’s Cabinet after the EU referendum of June 2016

Jeremy Corbyn and the Opposition Shadow Cabinet after the general election 2015

Brexit : how will the United Kingdom leave the European Union ?

Further devolution in Scotland : The Scotland Act 2016

State of the parties

Chaque thème peut à lui seul faire l'objet d'une question lors de l'examen oral.
Brièvement, voici quelques indications ayant motivé le choix de ces thèmes.

Last updated : April 2017

Glossary of Essential Terms


adapted and extended from Richard Gordon, Repairing British Politics - A Blueprint for Constitutional Change,
Hart Publ., 2010

Accountability : responsibility of executive government for their acts and omissions. In


electoral terms it also means accountability to voters, but in the United kingdom, the
executive is also accountable to Parliament.

Act of Parliament : a law passed as primary legislation by Parliament.

Bill : a legislative proposal submitted to Parliament for discussion and voting.


Public bills : are introduced - tabled - by members of the government.
Private Members' bills : are introduced by opposition MPs or majority MPs who are not
members of the government, that is to say by backbench MPs. Such bills have very little
prospect of becoming law because of the inadequate parliamentary time devoted to debating
them.

By-election : an election that is held to fill a political office that has become vacant between
two general elections.

Cabinet : the committee of senior government ministers at the heart of executive government
and the supreme decision-maker in government.

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Civil Service : a branch of public service entrusted with the administration of the state and for
providing advice to government.
Civil servant : a member of the Civil Service - synonymous with public officer

Confidence and supply agreement (C & S) : an agreement between political parties that is
less formal than a full-blown coalition but one that allows a minority party to hold power.
Under "C&S", as it is sometimes called, a smaller party, or parties, agree to support a larger
party on its budget and any votes other parties propose to bring it down.

Constituency : an electoral area that elects an MP to the House of Commons.


Single-member constituency : a constituency that returns one elected candidate to
Parliament.
Multi-member constituency : a constituency that retuns more than two candidates to
Parliament.
Constituent : a constituent is a voter in a given constituency.

Constitution : a device setting out the role and functions of the branches of government.
Constitutions may be written or unwritten, but all modern democracies, except the United
Kingdom, New Zealand and Israël, have written constitutions.
Unwritten constitution : a constitution where the rules by which society is organized,
including the institutions of Governement, have not been codified. In this sense the UK does
have an unwritten constitution since the roles and functions of government are contained in
various different sources, including informal constitutions conventions.

Constitutional convention : a set of agreed or generally accepted political standards or


practices, which are binding.
Salisbury convention : a constitutional convention preventing the House of Lords from
vetoing the second or third reading of any government legislation promised in the governing
party's electoral manifesto.

Constitutional documents : a trema sometimes used to refer to the documents that make up
the informal and uncodified constitution of the United Kingdom. The documents referred to in
this phrase include Magna Carta (1215), the Bill of Rights (1689), the Act of Settlement
(1701), the Acts of Union 1707 and 1800, the Great Reform Act 1832, the Parliament Acts
1911 and 1949, the European Communities Act 1972 and the Human Rights Act 1998.

Constitutional monarchy : a monarchy in which the political power of the monarch is


limited by the existence of a parliament .

Democracy : a system of government in which citizens govern directly or, more commonly,
which is conducted by elected representatives of the people.
Representative democracy : a system of government in which citizens elect individuals to
represent them in government.

Devolution : the granting of power by central government at a local level. In the United
Kingdom there have been significant devolution reforms leading to the establishement of the
Scottish Parliament, and the Welsh and Northern Ireland Assemblies, which exercise, in
different ways, 'devolved power' formerly exercized by central government in Westminster.

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Elective dictatorship : a phrase used by the former Lord Chancellor, Lord Hailsham, to
describe the dominance of the executive over Parliament, reflecting the fact that once elected
on a general political manifesto, the government of the day will usually be able to pass
whatever legislation it wishes.

European Charter of Human Rights : an international document which introduces many


economic and social rights not included in the European Convention on Human Rights. It is
referred to in the Treaty of Lisbon, which came into force on December 1 2009. However the
Charter applies only to the implementation of EU law, and is not a general charter of rights.

European Union : a group of 28 Member States - Croatia was the 28th state that joined in
2013- regulated by a number of international treaties which are designed primarily to ensure
economic integration.
EU law is a system of law operated directly by the institutions of the EU (the EU
Commission, the EU Parliament and the European Court of Justice sitting in Luxembourg)
and was incorporated into UK law by the European Communities Act 1972. It has supremacy
in each of the Member States - thus affecting the UK principle of parliamentary sovereignty,
since EU laws override laws enacted by the UK Parliament.

Executive : an organ of government that is responsible for the daily administration of the
state.

Expenses scandal : the name given to the political scandal and crisis triggered in 2009 when
it was discovered, following disclosures under the Freedom of Information Act, that MPs had
in a great many cases misused their permitted allowances and expenses. The crisis came to
light when the Daily Telegraph leaked on a day-to-day basis the names of particular MPs who
had apparently exaggerated their expenses claims.

First Past The Post (FPTP) : the electoral system currently used for general elections in the
United Kingdom according to which the candidate with a simple majority of votes in each
constitutency - with more votes than any of the other candidates, but not necessarily more
than 50 per cent - is elected to Parliament.

Fixed-term parliament : a system in which general elections are called within a stipulated
time, as is the case now in the UK as a result of the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act 2011, as
opposed to the previous system where the prime minister was free to decide the date of the
next general election.

General election : the election as a result of which MPs are elected to the House of Commons
in each of the constituencies of the United Kingdom. General elections in the United
Kingdom now take place at fixed dates : every five years.

Hereditary peer : a person who is a member of the House of Lords by inheritance. Only 92
hereditary peers sit in the House of Lords as a result of the House of Lords Act in 1999.
Peeress is the feminine form.
Peerage is the state of being a peer - it also refers to the system of peers and peeresses that
exists in the United Kingdom.

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International treaties : are not part of UK law unless incorporated into national law by an
Act of Parliament. That is true of EU treaties and the ECHR as it is of any other international
treaty.

Judiciary : the system of judges and courts in charge of interpreting and applying the law.

Legislation : laws passed by a legislature.


Primary legislation : laws passed by Parliament in the form of Acts of Parliament. Prior to
being enacted, the draft legislation is called a bill.
Secondary legislation : also called subordinate or delegated legislation, seconday legislation
is a law made under authority contained in primary legislation.

Legislature : the law-making body in a state. In the United Kingdom, Parliament is the
exclusive law-making body.
Bicameral legislature : the practice of having two legislative bodies. In the United Kingdom,
the bicameral legislature consists of the elected House of Commons and the unelected House
of Lords.

MP / Member of Parliament : a person elected to the House of Commons to represent


his/her constituency.
Backbench MP : members who do not have official positions in the government or in the
Opposition shadow cabinet, who therefore sit on the back benches in the House of Commons.
The expression is synonymous with 'ordinary' or grass-roots MPs.
Frontbench MP : leading members of the government and of the main Opposition party
(shadow cabinet) who actually sit on the two front rows on each side of the House of
Commons.

Monarch : hereditary Head of State, also referred to as the Sovereign.

Parliament : the legislative body of the United Kingdom, made up of the House of Commons
and the House of Lords.

Parliament Acts : the generic name for two Acts of Parliament (1911 and 1949) which
limited the former legislative veto of the House of Lords and the ability of the House of Lords
to delay bills passing into law.

Parliamentary sovereignty : a constitutional doctrine that provides for the absolute


legislative supremacy of Parliament - Parliament may, with no constitutional restraint at all,
make whatever laws it chooses, and may change or repeal earlier Acts of Parliament.

Political party : a body that seeks to attain and maintain political power in government on the
basis of a political manifesto.

Proportional Representation (PR) : an electoral system designed to ensure a close


approximation between the percentage of votes and the number of seats allocated.
Alternative Vote (AV) : an electoral system designed for single-winner elections in which
voters rank candidates in order of preference. A candidate with over 50 per cent of the votes
wins. If there is no such candidate, the second-preference votes of the candidate finishing last
are redistributed. This process continues until there is one candidate with more than 50 per
cent of the votes. This system is not a form of proportional representation, though it is often

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confused with it - it gives approsimately the same sort of results as the French scrutin
uninominal majoritaire à deux tours.
Alternative Vote + : a combination of AV and diluted proportional representation. It involves
electing most MPS from constituencies in the normal way. However, constituents also elect
15-20% of MPs from regions containing 'top-up' lists of parties determined by the vote share
of parties. AV+ was recommended when electoral reform was envisaged in the United
Kingdom in 1998, but was never implemented.
Party List : a form of proportional representation in which a list of candidates is prepared by
each of the political parties in a multi-member constituency with seats being allocated to each
party in proportion to the number of votes received, which may, depending on the type of list
system employed, be cast for a party, for candidates or for a list.
Single Transferable Vote (STV) : a system of proportional representation used in multi-
member constituencies in which voters have only one vote but can rank the candidates in
order of preference. Their vote may be transferred to another candidate - their second
preference - when their first preference candidate has too few votes to be elected or where
their first choice candidate does not need their vote.

Prorogation : Prorogation marks the end of a parliamentary session. It is the formal name
given to the period between the end of a session of Parliament and the State Opening of
Parliament that begins the next session. The parliamentary session may also be prorogued
when Parliament is dissolved and a general election called. For instance, Parliament was
prorogued/dissolved on March 30, 2015 for the general election of May 7 2015 to be
organized.

Queen in Parliament : a term referring to the Crown in its legislative capacity acting with the
advice and consent of Parliament - to be enacted, all bills must receive the Royal Assent.

Referendum : a vote by the electorate on a specific proposal, usually of a significant or a


constitutional nature - sometimes called a plebiscite.

Royal prerogative : the formal powers of the monarch such as declaring war or appointing
ministers. Those powers are non-statutory, i.e. not regulated by legislation (Acts of
Parliament), and many are outside the control of the courts. Nowadays, the prerogative
powers have been delegated to central government, but are still exercised on a non-statutory
basis.

Rule of law : a principle that all citizens are subject to the law and that the law is publicly and
prospectively promulgated and publicly administered in the courts.

Second ballot : a run-off electoral system whereby, if no candidate receives an absolute


majority of votes, only the two candidates with the most votes go forward and a second round
of voting takes place.

Select committee : a committee composed of MPs appointed to deal with specific issues.
(You can find the full list of House of Commons and House of Lords select committees at
www.parliament.uk)

Separation of powers : a constitutional doctrine that divides governmental power into


separate organs of state so that no one branch acquires a monopoly of power over another.
There is no such separation of powers in the United Kingdom, but rather a fused system in

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which the executive and legislative branches of government are not truly separate and in
which central government increasingly dominates the legislature from which it is selected.

Shadow cabinet : The Shadow Cabinet is made up of frontbench MPs and Members of the
Lords from the second largest party, or official Opposition party. The Opposition party
appoints an MP to 'shadow' (= follow closely) each of the members of the Cabinet. In this
way the Opposition can make sure that it looks at every part of the Government and can
question them thoroughly. It also means that the Opposition has MPs and Lords that are ready
to take specific jobs in the Cabinet if they win at the next General Election.

Standing committee, also called General committee : a committee composed of MPs


appointed to examine bills in detail.

Statute of Westminster : this Act established equality between self-governing dominions of


the British Empire and the United Kingdom. It set the basis for the continuing constitutional
relationship between the Commonwealth States and the United Kingdom.

Supreme Court : the highest court possessing final jurisdiction to hear appeals. A Supreme
Court was established in the United Kingdom in October 2009, to replace the former Judicial
Committee of the House of Lords.

West Lothian question : an apparent anomaly whereby Welsh, Scottish, and Northern
Ireland MPs can vote on issues affecting England, whereas English MPs cannot vote on
issues affecting Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.

Whip : a role in party politics designed to ensure control over attendance by MPs at votes and
compliance with the party's directives as to the votes cast.

last updated : May 2015

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