HER MAJESTY\'S GOVERNMENT (HMG; Welsh : Llywodraeth Ei Mawrhydi),
commonly referred to as the UK GOVERNMENT or BRITISH GOVERNMENT, is
the central government of the
The government is led by the Prime Minister , who selects all the
remaining ministers . The prime minister and the other most senior
ministers belong to the supreme decision-making committee, known as
the Cabinet . The government ministers all sit in Parliament , and
are accountable to it. The government is dependent on Parliament to
make primary legislation , and since the Fixed-terms Parliaments Act
2011 , general elections are held every five years to elect a new
House of Commons , unless there is a successful vote of no confidence
in the government or a two-thirds vote for a snap election (as was the
case in 2017 ) in the House of Commons, in which case an election may
be held sooner. After an election, the monarch (currently Queen
Under the uncodified British constitution , executive authority lies with the monarch, although this authority is exercised only by, or on the advice of, the prime minister and the cabinet. The Cabinet members advise the monarch as members of the Privy Council . They also exercise power directly as leaders of the Government Departments .
The current prime minister is
* 1 Government in Parliament
* 2 Her Majesty\'s Government and the Crown
* 2.1 Domestic powers * 2.2 Foreign powers
* 3 Government departments * 4 Location * 5 Devolved governments * 6 Local government * 7 Limits of government power * 8 See also * 9 References * 10 External links
GOVERNMENT IN PARLIAMENT
A key principle of the British Constitution is that the government is responsible to Parliament. This is called responsible government .
Britain is a constitutional monarchy in which the reigning monarch
(that is, the King or Queen who is the Head of State at any given
time) does not make any open political decisions. All political
decisions are taken by the government and Parliament. This
constitutional state of affairs is the result of a long history of
constraining and reducing the political power of the monarch,
beginning with the
Parliament is split into two houses: the House of Lords and the House of Commons . The House of Commons is the lower house and is the more powerful. The House of Lords is the upper house and although it can vote to amend proposed laws, the House of Commons can usually vote to overrule its amendments. Although the House of Lords can introduce bills, most important laws are introduced in the House of Commons – and most of those are introduced by the government, which schedules the vast majority of parliamentary time in the Commons. Parliamentary time is essential for bills to be passed into law, because they must pass through a number of readings before becoming law. Prior to introducing a bill, the government may run a public consultation to solicit feedback from the public and businesses, and often may have already introduced and discussed the policy in the Queen\'s Speech , or in an election manifesto or party platform .
Ministers of the Crown are responsible to the House in which they
sit; they make statements in that House and take questions from
members of that House. For most senior ministers this is usually the
elected House of Commons rather than the House of Lords. There have
been some recent exceptions to this: for example, cabinet ministers
Lord Mandelson (First Secretary of State) and
Since the start of Edward VII 's reign in 1901, the prime minister
has always been an elected member of Parliament (MP) and therefore
directly accountable to the House of Commons. A similar convention
applies to the
Chancellor of the Exchequer
Under the British system, the government is required by convention and for practical reasons to maintain the confidence of the House of Commons. It requires the support of the House of Commons for the maintenance of supply (by voting through the government's budgets) and to pass primary legislation . By convention, if a government loses the confidence of the House of Commons it must either resign or a General Election is held. The support of the Lords, while useful to the government in getting its legislation passed without delay, is not vital. A government is not required to resign even if it loses the confidence of the Lords and is defeated in key votes in that House. The House of Commons is thus the Responsible house .
The prime minister is held to account during Prime Minister\'s Question Time (PMQs) which provides an opportunity for MPs from all parties to question the PM on any subject. There are also departmental questions when ministers answer questions relating to their specific departmental brief. Unlike PMQs both the cabinet ministers for the department and junior ministers within the department may answer on behalf of the government, depending on the topic of the question.
During debates on legislation proposed by the government, ministers—usually with departmental responsibility for the bill —will lead the debate for the government and respond to points made by MPs or Lords.
Committees of both the House of Commons and House of Lords hold the government to account, scrutinise its work and examine in detail proposals for legislation. Ministers appear before committees to give evidence and answer questions.
Government ministers are also required by convention and the Ministerial Code , when Parliament is sitting, to make major statements regarding government policy or issues of national importance to Parliament. This allows MPs or Lords to question the government on the statement. When the government instead chooses to make announcements first outside Parliament, it is often the subject of significant criticism from MPs and the Speaker of the House of Commons .
HER MAJESTY\'S GOVERNMENT AND THE CROWN
The British monarch , currently Queen
The monarch takes little direct part in governing the country, and
remains neutral in political affairs. However, the legal authority of
the state that is vested in the sovereign, known as
In addition to explicit statutory authority , in many areas the Crown also possesses a body of powers known as the Royal Prerogative , which can be used for many purposes, from the issue or withdrawal of passports to declaration of war. By long-standing custom, most of these powers are delegated from the sovereign to various ministers or other officers of the Crown, who may use them without having to obtain the consent of Parliament.
The head of the government, the prime minister , also has weekly meetings with the monarch, when she "has a right and a duty to express her views on Government matters...These meetings, as with all communications between The Queen and her Government, remain strictly confidential. Having expressed her views, The Queen abides by the advice of her ministers."
Royal Prerogative powers include, but are not limited to, the following:
* The power to dismiss and appoint a prime minister . This power is
exercised by the monarch herself. By strong convention she must
appoint the individual most capable of commanding a majority in the
House of Commons.
* The power to dismiss and appoint other ministers . This power is
exercised by the monarch on the advice of the prime minister.
* The power to grant
* The power to ratify and make treaties . * The power to declare war and conclude peace with other nations. * The power to deploy the Armed Forces overseas. * The power to recognise states . * The power to credit and receive diplomats.
Even though the
Main article: British government departments
Government ministers are supported by 560,000 Civil Servants and other staff working in the 24 Ministerial Departments and their executive agencies . There are also an additional 26 non-Ministerial Departments with a range of further responsibilities.
The prime minister is based at
10 Downing Street
Main article: Devolution in the
Since 1999, certain areas of central government have been devolved to
accountable governments in
Refurbishment notice at Old Fire Station,
Up to three layers of elected local authorities (such as County, District and Parish Councils ) exist throughout all parts of the United Kingdom, in some places merged into Unitary Authorities . They have limited local tax-raising powers. Many other authorities and agencies also have statutory powers, generally subject to some central government supervision.
LIMITS OF GOVERNMENT POWER
The government's powers include general executive and statutory
powers, delegated legislation , and numerous powers of appointment and
patronage. However, some powerful officials and bodies, (e.g. HM
judges, local authorities , and the Charity Commissions) are legally
more or less independent of the government, and government powers are
legally limited to those retained by the Crown under
Nevertheless, magistrates and mayors can still be arrested for and put on trial for corruption, and the government has powers to insert commissioners into a local authority to oversee its work, and to issue directives that must be obeyed by the local authority, if the local authority is not abiding by its statutory obligations.
By contrast, as in every other
Similarly, the monarch is totally immune from criminal prosecution
and may only be sued with her permission (this is known as sovereign
immunity ). The monarch, by law, is not required to pay income tax,
In addition to legislative powers, HM Government has substantial influence over local authorities and other bodies set up by it, by financial powers and grants. Many functions carried out by local authorities, such as paying out housing benefit and council tax benefit, are funded or substantially part-funded by central government.
Even though the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is supposed to be independent of the government on a day-to-day level and is supposed to be politically unbiased, some commentators have argued that the prospects of the BBC having its funding cut or its charter changed in future charter renewals in practice cause the BBC to be subtly biased towards the government of the day (or the likely future government as an election approaches) at times.
Neither the central government nor local authorities are permitted to sue anyone for defamation . Individual politicians are allowed to sue people for defamation in a personal capacity and without using government funds, but this is relatively rare (although George Galloway , who was a backbench MP for a quarter of a century, has sued or threatened to sue for defamation a number of times). However, it is a criminal offence to make a false statement about any election candidate during an election, with the purpose of reducing the number of votes they receive (as with libel, opinions do not count).
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