The Prime Minister of Great Britain


There are a lot of political issues in Great Britain today. United
Kingdom is a large, industrialized democratic society and as such it has to have
politics and therefore political issues. One of those issues how should
executive branch work and whether the Prime Minister has too much power. Right
now in Great Britain there is a great debate on this issue and I am going to
examine it in detail. The facts I have used here are from different writings on
British politics which are all listed in my bibliography, but the opinions are
my own and so are the arguments that I used to support my views.
First let me explain the process through which a person becomes a Prime
Minister. The PM is selected by the sovereign. He (or she) chooses a man who
can command the support of majority of the members of the House of Commons.
Such a man is normally the leader of the largest party in the House. Where two
are rivals in a three party contest such as those which occurred in the 1920s he
is usually selected from the party which wins the greatest number of seats. The
Prime Minister is assumed to be the choice of his party and nowadays, so far as
he can be ascertained, participation of a monarch is a pure formality. Anyone
suggested for this highest political office obviously has to be a very smart and
willing individual, in fact it has been suggested that he be an "uncommon man of
common opinions"(Douglas V. Verney). Not all Prime Ministers fitted this bill
exactly, but every on of them had to pass one important test: day-to-day
scrutiny of their motives and behavior by fellow members of Parliament
before they were ultimately elected to the leadership of their party. Unlike
Presidents of the United States all Prime Ministers have served a long
apprenticeship in the legislature and have been ministers in previous Cabinets.
Many Presidents of our country have been elected and on many occasions they have
never even met some of their future co-workers, such as case of Kissinger and
Nixon who have never even met prior to Nixon\'s appointment.
Let\'s now examine the statutory duties and responsibilities of the Prime
Minister. Unlike the United States where the President\'s duties are
specifically written out in the Constitution, the powers of the Prime Minister
are almost nowhere spelled out in a statute. Unlike his fellow ministers he
does not receive the seals of office: he merely kisses the hands of the monarch
like an ambassador.
The Prime Minister has four areas of responsibilities. He is a head of
the Government; he speaks for the Government in the House of Commons; he is the
link between the Government and the sovereign; he is the leader of the nation.
He is chief executive, chief legislator and chief ambassador. As we can see the
PM has an wide range of powers, maybe too wide. As head of the Government the
Prime Minister has the power to recommend the appointment and dismissal of all
other ministers. Far from being merely first among equals, he is the dominant
figure. Ministers wait in the hall of PMs office on No.10 Dowling Street before
being called into the Cabinet room. He may himself hold other portfolios such
as that of Foreign Secretary(as did Lord Salisbury) or Minister of Defense(as
did Mr. Churchill). He has general supervision over all departments and
appoints both the Permanent Secretary and the Parliamentary Secretary. The
Cabinet office keeps a record of Cabinet decisions to make sure that PM has up
to date information. He controls the agenda which the office prepares for
Cabinet meetings. There is a smaller Prime Minister\'s Private Office which
consists of a principal private secretary and a half a dozen other staff drawn
from civil service. Perhaps owing to American influence the two offices are
becoming increasingly popular and there are signs that the Prime Minister is no
longer content to be aided by nonpolitical civil servants. There is little
doubt that if he chooses the PM can be in complete command of his Cabinet.
The PM must also give leadership in the House of Commons, though he
usually appoints a colleague as Leader of the House. He speaks for the
Government on important matters-increasingly, questions are directed to him
personally-and controls the business of the House through the Future Legislation
Committee of the Cabinet which he appoints mainly from the senior
nondepartamental ministers. Since the success of his legislative program
depends mainly on support of his party