Great Britan — страница 2

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Prime Minister. But the monarchy today has practically no power. The monarch reigns with the support of the parliament. A parliament is the group of people who make the laws of their country. British parliament consists of two Houses: the House of Lords and the House of Commons and the Queen as its head. The House of Commons plays the main role in lawmaking. It consists of 650 members of Parliament who are elected for a period of five years. The House of Lords has more than 1,000 members, although only about 250 take an active part in the work of the House. The members of the House of Lords are not elected, they inherit their seats in Parliament. The chairman of the House of Lords is the Lord Chancellor and he sits on a special seat called the Woolsack. It shows that wool made

England rich. Members of the House of Commons belong to different political parties, and the party which gets the majority of seats in the House is called the ruling party, and the others – the oppositions. The main British political groups are the Conservative and Labour Parties and the Party of Liberal Democrats. The Conservative Party is the ruling party, the Labour Party – the opposition to the Conservatives. The Conservative Party is often called the Tory Party. It is the party of big business, industry, commerce and landowners. The Conservative Party and the Liberal are more than three hundred years old. The Liberals were called “Whigs”. It was the party of the trading and manufacturing classes. The Labour Party was formed in 1900. It was founded by the Trade

Unions, but had not done much to change the conditions of working class. Among the other political parties of Great Britain there are Social Democratic Party, the Scottish National and Welsh Nationalist Parties, the Communist Party of Great Britain. 4. THE FLAG AND THE NATIONAL EMBLEMS OF GREAT BRITAIN The flag of the United Kingdom is often called the Union Flag, or the Union Jack. It consists of several flags. In 1603 Scotland was joined to England and Wales. The Scottish Flag, St.Andrew’s Cross (the patron saint of Scotland0, blue with a white cross from corner to corner, was joined to the English flag, St.George’s Cross (the patron saint of England), white with a red upright cross. Later, in 1801, the Irish Flag of St.Patrick’s Cross (the patron of Ireland) was added,

white with a red cross from corner to corner. As for the national emblems of Great Britain they are very unusual and surprising. Everybody knows about the War of the Roses (1455-1485), which was led between the two contending Houses for the English throne. The emblem of one of them, the Lancastrians, was the red rose, and the emblem of the Yorkists was the white rose. Since the end of this war the red rose has been the national emblem of England. The people of Scotland chose the thistle as their national emblem. They say that it saved their land from foreign invaders many years ago. This happened so. During a surprise night attack by the invaders the Scottish soldiers were awakened by the shouts of one of the invaders, whose bare feet stepped on the thorns of the thistle. The

alarm was given and soon the Scots won victory over the enemy, and the thistle became their national emblem. The little shamrock is the national emblem of the Irish. It is worn in memory of St. Patrick, Irelands patron saint. A legend says that St. Patrick used a small green shamrock when he was preaching the doctrine of the Trinity to the pagan Irish. There is a legend according to which St. David (the patron saint of Wales) lived for several years on bread and wild leeks. So Welshmen all over the world celebrate St. David’s Day by putting leers onto their clothes. They consider the leek their national emblem. By the way the daffodil is also associated with St. David’s Day, it flowers on that day. 5. MICHAEL FARADAY Could you imagine your life without television, radio,

telephones, without electricity? “Of course not!” – this is the answer. The discovery of how electricity could be generated was one of the great scientific events of history. It was made by Michael Faraday. Michael Faraday was born in 1791 in London in a poor family. His father, a blacksmi th, couldn't find work for a long time, and so when Michael was 14 years old he was sent to work. He found work in a bookshop. There he learnt how to bind books and read as much as he could. He was especially fond of books about science. Once a customer at the bookshop gave him a ticket to a lecture by Humphrey Davy, England's greatest scientist of that time. After some time Michael got a job of an assistant in a laboratory of Davy. He got interested in the strange new power, electricity,