The English Election System

The English Election System


Once the Queen has appointed a person to the office of Prime Minister, he can remain in office only for so long as he has majority support in the House of Commons. If he is defeated there, he may resign and leave the Queen looking for a new one. According to law the period between general elections must never be more than five years. Within these five years the Prime Minister may choose the date for a general election, this gives him and his party a great advantage, because then he can choose a time when the opinion is high for his party.

The Government

A Brittish Government consists of the Prime Minister and other ministers, all of whom are collectively responsible for every part of the Government´s administration. The ministers are all choosed by the Queen, but they are choosed entirely on the PM´s advice. All the ministers must be members of either the House of Commons or the House of Lords, and a minister may only speak in the house of which he is a member. Some of the ministers and the offices have special titles such as the "Minister of Agriculture" and as the "Chancellor of the Exchequer. A politicial assistant to a minister is called, for example, the "Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture". If the Minister´s title is "Secretary of State" his assistant is called for example, of "Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland".
The Cabinet consists of the heads of the most important Departments together with a few ministers without departments. The PM decides which ministers will be included, but there is some, like the Foreign Secretary, whom he could not leave out. The number of members has varied in peacetime between 15-23. The Government is a wider term including ministers, ministers of state and junior ministers, plus 4 legal members and about twelve Government whips.
The PM lives and works at No. 10 Downing Street. This is a pretty large house in a small street off Whitehall, where many of the departments have their offices, a very short distance from the Houses of Parliament. One of the rooms in the PM´s house is the Cabinet-Room. This is where the Cabinet-Members meets usually once a week, but sometimes more often.
The Cabinet itself is not recognized by any former law and it has no formal powers, but only real powers. It takes the effective decisions about what is going to be done, but in many cases the formal order embodying the Cabinet´s decision must be made later, either by a particular minister, or by the Queen in her Privy Council, or when the Cabinet´s decision involves the making of a new law. The Cabinet is technically an informal committé of Privy Councillors. Whenever a person is made minister of Cabinet rank, he is made a member of the Council and continues as a member for the rest of his life.
The Privy Council has the formal power to make certain executive orders and proclamations. In 1968 Mr Wilson set up an inner committee of the seven most important Ministers. The intention seemed to be that the main part of the work should be done by this committee. Apart from this, much of its work is done in a number of special commitees, which are groups of ministers, including some who do not belong to the Cabinet, dealing with particular sections of policy, like the defence.
The Cabinet and its commitees work in great secrecy. No outside person is allowed to see any Cabinet papers until they have become only of historical interest. It seems that it is almost unknown for any decision of the Cabinet to be made by a vote of the ministers, but whatever decision is made, every office-holder must be prepared to share the responsibility for it and to defend it outside. If he doesn´t or if he isn´t prepared to do this he must resign.
Although each minister only can speak in the House to which they belongs, the Government is "responsible" only to the House of Commons. Each department has a large staff of professional civil servants who do most of the work of running the department on the minister´s behalf.
The Civil service is wholly non-politicial.


Politicial