UK Parliament — страница 2

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the Monarch. The main functions of Parliament are to: Make all UK law Provide, by voting for taxation, the means of carrying on the work of government Protect the public and safeguard the rights of individuals Scrutinize government policy and administration, including proposals for expenditure Examine European proposals before the become law Hear appeals in the House of Lords, the highest Court of Appeal in Britain Debate the major issues of the day Parliament has a maximum duration of five years. At any time up to the end of this period, a general election can be held for a new House of Commons. The House of Lords. The House of Lords is the second chamber of the UK Houses of Parliament. Members of the House of Lords (known as “peers”) consist of Lords Spiritual (senior

bishops) and Lords temporal (lay peers). Law Lords (senior judges) also sit as Lords Temporal. Members of the House of Lords are not elected. Originally they were drawn from the various groups of senior and influential nobility in Britain, who advised the monarch throughout the country’s early history. Following the House of Lords Act 1999 there are only 92 peers who sit by virtue of hereditary peerage. The majority of members are now life peers and the Government has been consulting on proposals for further reform of the Lords. There were 689 peers in total in May 2003. In general, the functions of the House of Lords are similar to those of the House of Commons in legislating, debating and questioning the executive. There are two important exceptions: members of the Lords do

not represent constituencies, and are not involved in matters of taxation and finance. The role of the Lords is generally recognized to be complementary to that of the Commons and it acts as a revising chamber for many of the more important and controversial bills. All bills go through both Houses before becoming Acts, and start in either House. Normally, the consent of the Lords is required before Acts of Parliament can be passed, and the Lords can amend all legislation, with the exception of bills to raise taxation, long seen as the responsibility of the Commons. Amendments have to be agreed by both Houses. The House of Lords is as active as the Commons in amending bills, and spends two-thirds of its time revising legislation. Following the Lord’s rejection of the Liberal

Government’s budget of 1909, the Parliament Act of 1911 ended their power to reject legislation. A power of delay was substituted, which was further curtailed by the Parliament Act of 1949. The House of Commons can present a bill (except one to prolong the life of Parliament) for Royal Assent after one year and in a new session even if the Lords have not given their agreement. There is also a convention (known as the “Salisbury” convention) that the Government’s manifesto commitments, in the form of Government Bills, are not voted down by the House of Lords at second reading. The House of Lords is also the final court of appeal for civil cases in the United Kingdom and for the criminal cases in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Only the Lords of Appeal (law Lords) –

of whom there are 12 employed full-time – take part in judicial proceedings. Organization of the House of Lords. The Speakership of the House of Lords has traditionally been performed by the Lord Chancellor. The Lord Chancellor’s powers as Speaker have been very limited compared with the Speaker of the House of Commons, since the Lords themselves control the proceedings under the guidance of the Leader of the House. Lord’s business is expected to be conducted in an orderly and polite fashion without the need for an active Speaker. The Lord Chancellor sits on a special seat called the Woolsack except when the House is in Committee, but does not call upon members to speak and has no power to call the House to order. This has been due in part to the Lord Chancellor’s

constitutionally unique position: before the reforms announced on the 12th of June 2003, the Lord Chancellor had been simultaneously a Cabinet minister with department responsibilities, the Speaker of the House of Lords and the head of the judiciary in England and Wales. The government is now intent on a separation of these powers and on the abolition of the office of Lord Chancellor. Other office holders in the House of Lords include government ministers and whips, the Leader and Chief Whip of the main opposition party, and two Chairmen of Committees. The Leader of the House occupies a special position in the House of Lords: as well as leading the party in government he has a responsibility to the House as a whole. It is to him, and not the Lord Chancellor, that members have