Elements of the Separation of Powers

The Executive

The branch of government made up of the Prime Minister and other ministers, senior civil servants and policy advisors who draft and then, in the case of the civil service, implement its policy after it has been agreed by the legislature. 

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The Legislature

The body that makes law. In the case of the UK, the House of Commons and House of Lords sitting in Westminster make up the Parliament. 

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The Judiciary

The Judiciary comprises the judges and the legal process. Decisions made by government and Parliament can be challenged in court and often legislation can be interpreted by judges to make a determination on its meaning. Even though the judiciary is seperate and independant of the other two elements, it can become political in the decisions it makes. If the government does not like interpretation by judges, it can review the situation and draft new laws to achieve what was originally intended. 

Lady Hale

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The Monarchy

The UK is a constitutional monarchyand the citizens of the UK are subjects of the Monarch. The role of the Monarch is mostly ceremonial. It is a traditional form of government whereby power is passed down the royal family line. Over hundreds of years, the power of the Monarch has been transferred to elected government. Some countries still have a system of government where the monarch has absolute power. 

The Monarch appoints a Prime Minister at each General Election. The Monarch each year formally opens Parliament and reads the Queen's Speech. It is actually written by the government and sets out the legislative programme for the next twelve months. The Monarch formally dissolves Parliament before a General Election. When a bill is passed by Parliament, the Monarch formally agrees it, giving it Royal Assent. This changes a bill into an Act of Parliament, making it law.

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Bicameral Parliament

In the UK, the Parliament is made up of two chambers: House of Commons and the House of Lords. A bicameral parliament is a legislature with two chambers. In the USA: the Congress of the USA is made up of the House of Representatives and the Senate.

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House of Commons

An elected chamber currently made up of 650 members. The government is formed on the basis of elections to this chamber. The Prime Minister and msot government ministers are members of the House. The main function of the Parliament is to vote the policy of the government into legislation, from the government's perspective. The will of the House of Commons is always supreme. The Commons sees its role as holding the government to account for its actions, debating and amending bills and being a forum for national debate.

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House of Lords

The House of Lords is made up of over 1000 appointed life peers, some hereditary peers and bishops of the Church of England. The role of the chamber is to debate and revise legislation from the House of Commons. It can also propose legislation and it carries out scrutiny functions similar to the House of Commons . At times, there are joint commitees of both houses. The House of Lords does not vote down proposals from the government if they were in its election manifesto.

Wood panelled room with high ceiling containing comfortable red padded benches and large gold throne.

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