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Referat :: United kingdom var 2
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the political union of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. It is not a federation but a unitary state, and its inhabitants elect members to represent them in a parliament that meets in London. Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, however, retain a degree of autonomy in running some of their own affairs.
The first union of separate states in the British Isles took place in 1301, when Wales was joined to England by the creation of the title of Prince of Wales for the son of Edward I of England. Wales was not officially incorporated with England, however, until 1536. In 1603 James VI of Scotland became king of England (as James I), uniting Scotland and England under one ruler and creating the so-called Union of the Crowns. Despite this unification, Scotland retained its own parliament until 1707, when the parliaments of the two states were formally united.
Although this union was opposed by many Scots, it ultimately gave them entry to the larger world of English politics and business. The name Great Britain was officially adopted for this union; when Ireland was added to Great Britain by the Act of Union of 1801, the title United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was introduced.
As a result of Irish demands for independence, the Irish Free State was declared in 1922. The six northern counties of Ireland, which had a predominantly Protestant population, remained as part of the United Kingdom but were officially named Northern Ireland. The present title for the union of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland--the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland--dates from 1927. Northern Ireland sent representatives to the London Parliament but had its own legislature and executive to deal with domestic matters. In 1972, because of continuing political and religious problems (between the Roman Catholics and the Protestants) in Northern Ireland, the London Parliament suspended the Northern Ireland Parliament. The London Parliament then established its own direct control over this province.
In 1885 a secretary of state was appointed to look after Scottish affairs. There are separate departments in Scotland for home affairs, health, agriculture, fisheries, education, and economic development. The Scottish legal system is also separate from the English system.
In 1964 a Welsh Office was established to oversee matters of interest to Wales. The office is headed by a secretary of state for Wales.
The Channel Islands and the Isle of Man do not belong to the United Kingdom. They are direct dependencies of the Crown, or sovereign, and have their own legislative and taxation systems.
The United Kingdom does not have a written constitution like that of the United States. The British constitution is formed partly by statutes, or legislative enactments of Parliament; partly by common law, based on decisions of courts of law; and partly by practices and precepts, which are known as conventions. These conventions are not part of the law of the country but are nevertheless necessary for running the machinery of government. Because the constitution is not written, it can be adapted as necessary either by an act of Parliament or by the general acceptance of a new convention.
There are three organs of government in the constitution: the legislature, the executive, and the judiciary. The legislature consists of Parliament, which is the supreme authority in the country. The executive consists of the Cabinet members and other ministers who make and direct the policy of the country, along with government departments and local authorities. The judiciary determines common law and also interprets statutes.
The Crown is the supreme power in the legislature, the executive, and the judiciary. The sovereign is also the head of the established Church of England and is commander in chief of the armed forces. In practice, however, the present queen, Elizabeth II, acts only on the advice of her ministers and cannot reject or ignore their advice.
These restrictions on the powers of the sovereign are the result of several centuries of confrontation and interaction between the sovereign and Parliament. In effect her majesty's government in the queen's name governs the United Kingdom.
The queen still has several significant functions. She calls and dissolves Parliament, and she opens a new session with a speech from the throne. This speech is not written by her, however, but by the government in power, and it outlines the government's policy for the forthcoming session of Parliament.
Similarly, the queen confers honors--in the form of peerages, knighthoods, and decorations--that are given on the advice of the government and that often reward people for services to the political party in power. She can award some honors herself, however--such as...
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