Government and the citizen

Citizenship

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The Role of Government

  • Executive agent of the state, runs the country
  • Make decisions on behalf of the community (judges, police and civil servants)
  • Top tier of British government, Prime Minister and the Cabinet
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What is happening in the UK?

  • Devolution means Britain is becoming decentralised
  • Westminster has ultimate power, parliament for Scotland, national assembly for Wales and Northern Ireland
  • Mayor in London
  • Asymmetric devolution - different parts of the country have different degrees of independence
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The Legislature - House of Commons

  • 650 elected members of parliament, represent local constituencies
  • General elections for MP's held every 5 years
  • Voting is secret ballot at age of 18
  • Ultimate power in House of Commons
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The House of Lords

  • Limitations on the power of the Lords
  • Complements the Commons, and not rival it
  • Once passed through both houses, legislation requires the Royal Assent to become law
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The Executive

  • Civil service responsible for administering the laws that Parliament has passed
  • 750-800 senior officials who advise ministers, prepare and draft discussion documents and legislation and make decisions themselves
  • Exert a powerful influence because they are skilled and experienced - Mandarin power

 

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The Cabinet

  • 20-24 senior members of the government, chosen by PM
  • Key formal decision making body within the executive
  • Directs work of government
  • Co-ordinating work of different departments
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The Prime minister

  • Majority support in House of Commons
  • Power to appoint and dismiss ministers
  • Presides over the cabinet
  • Responsible for the allocation of functions among ministers
  • Informs Queen at regular meeting of the general business of the Government
  • Recommends number of appointments to the Queen
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The Judicary

  • Lord Chancellor is head of the Judicary in England and Wales
  • Court procedure, adminstration of higher courts and tribunals in England and Wales
  • Less serious offences tried in England and Wales by lay magistrates
  • Serious offences tried by the Crown Court
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The Queen

  • Head of executive branch of the government
  • Integral part of the legislature
  • Head of the Judicary
  • Commander-in-chief of the armed forces
  • Supreme governor of the Church of England
  • Acts on advice of the minister
  • Lots of charity work
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Roles of Parliament

  • Holding the government to account
    • check what departments are doing, how pubic money being spent
    • ask questions in the House of Commons
    • work on committees which run investigations and make recommendations to the government
  • Making and amending laws
    • bills going through parliament are government bills
    • everyone in parliament can debate about them and vote on them
  • Representing UK citizens
    • MP's voted for, support and represent citizens
    • help with issues that people cannot contact local council about
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Local Government

  • Government provided by local councils
  • Part of multi-level governance in UK
  • Good to have a layer of government close to people
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Caring about local government

  • 700 different functions
  • Provides education, housing, leisure facilities, social services etc
  • Provides a chance for local participation
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Worrying about local government

  • Poor turnouts to local elections
  • Voters cast votes on who they vote for nationally
  • FPTP
  • low levels of interest and participation
  • ignorance of what local government actually does
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Local Authorities

  • District councils responsible for environmental health, housing, leisure, refuse collection, revenue collection and local roads
  • Counties responsible for education, fire and ambulances, libaries, main roads, social services, refuse collection and transport

Unitary authorities exercise all of these functions

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Devolved government

  • Economic discontent - felt areas suffered from unfair burdens, bearing from worst of recession, industrial decline and high unemployment
  • Remoteness from London - those who made decisions in London didn't care about them
  • In scotland the oil issue - Scottish nationalists wanted to self govern
  • In wales the cultural issue - preserving the Welsh culture and language

1998 Scotland act, 129 MSP's. 1998 Wales act, 60 members.

Good Friday agreement in 1998, Northern Ireland Assembly formed

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Devolution in practice

  • Democratic
  • Gives enough power to keep UK together
  • Got off to bad start, arguments over leadership
  • Could lead to break-up of UK
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Finance of Government

  • Different levels funded by income taxes
  • If entire budget not used, removed from the following years
  • Funding allocated to areas where it fits, central government need to be alerted of this
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Councillors

  • Voice of local community
  • Local people know whats best for local people
  • Shape future services for benefits of local people
  • Local people can talk about issues
  • Deal with enquiries about aspects of council business
  • Explain council policy
  • Encourage community participation

Elected by local people, usually represent a party, sometimes independant

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People not enthusiastic about local government

  • Lacks glamour, all interesting and important things decided nationally
  • Voting is worthwile, control in areas never changes
  • Poor image
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People made to care more about local government

  • Create smaller authorities, encourage local democracy
  • Use proportional voting system, fairer
  • Create small area committees
  • Grant local government more power
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Purpose of the EU

  • Bring peace, prosperity and security to Europe
  • Reduce likeliness of war
  • Boost economies of countries in Europe
  • Created through number of treaties
  • 27 countries
  • Creates legislation
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European Commission

  • Propose new legislation
  • Ensures EU legislation is correct
  • Monitors the use of EU funds
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The Council of European Union

  • Votes and debates on areas such as economic and financial affairs
  • Justice, employment, health and educational
  • Member states act as host and chair meetings
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European Parliament

  • Amend, approve and reject legislation propsed by commission
  • Power to scrutinise and dismiss the European commissioners
  • Joint budgetary authority with the Council of the EU
  • Each of the 27 states elect one member into parliament
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Impact of the EU

  • Monitors fishing of endangered fish species
  • Cut mobile phone bills
  • Food must be labelled clearly if it is GM
  • Make sure consumers have as much choice as possible
  • Introduction of the Euro
  • Pet passports
  • Cutting energy consumption by 20%
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Should we be actively involved in EU affairs?

  • Political case for membership - Union successful in reconciling France and Germany and brought peace. Created prosperity. Europe has more economic and political influence.
  • The economic case for membership - Britain benefits from a huge economic market which covers 500 million people. Many British jobs depend on trade with EU.
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Economic and social benefits of membership to UK c

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