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Composition of Parliament Unit
There are three parts of parliament and each of them needs to agree for an act of
parliament to be passed and made law.
House of Commons
The House of Commons is made up of approximately six hundred and
fifty members who are known as MPs. Any person who is a citizen of
Great Britain, the commonwealth nations or the Republic of Ireland may
stand as a candidate in an election providing they are above the age of
twentyone. Each MP is elected in a general election to represent an
area called a constituency which usually takes place every five years.
The political party who gains the majority of seats forms the government the
government is roughly one hundred MPs selected by the leader who becomes the prime
minister to run different divisions such as the ministry of defence, the heads of each
division become the cabinet who act as a close circle of advisors to the prime minister.
The second largest party becomes the opposition who form the shadow government
where each shadow minister looks at the work of their counterpart in the government
and criticises and challenges them.
House of Lords
The House of Lords is made up of approximately seven hundred
members who unlike MPs are unelected sitting in the House of Lords
are hereditary peers (peers who have gained their seat in the house by
being born into aristocratic titles), life peers (awarded their peerage
because of their contributions to society in their field e.g. economics,
business and politics), twentysix bishops of the church of England and
until the opening of the supreme courts in 2009 the law lords who do however still sit
there if the matter is unrelated to law making in order to preserve the doctrine of the
separation of powers. The House of Lords Act (1999) has made it so that when the
current hereditary peers pass away they will not be replaced with their children as they
were born into the peerage and have done nothing to deserve it.
The Crown (Monarch)
The monarch is still considered to be head of state although little power
actually remains with the monarchy though it still possesses three roles
with regards to parliament the yearly state opening of parliament in
which a speech is delivered outlining the political agenda of the
government and that the monarch supports them, giving royal assent to
make a bill an act which means it is law and to appoint or dismiss the
prime minister and ask the next to form the government.
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