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					 Prof. Bruno Pierri
  Lingua Inglese

The British Parliament
  October 9th, 2009
                  Historical Roots
• XI century: King’s          • 1536: Wales first
    Council “Witans”:             represented in
    barons and archbishops        Commons
    to discuss taxation and   •   1707 Act of Union:
    judgment                      Unification of Scottish
•   1265: first elected           and English Parliaments
    Parliament. Land          •   1801 Act of Union with
    Franchise                     Ireland
•   XIV Century: Two
    Houses - nobility and
    higher clergy (House of
    Lords), knights and
    burgesses (freemen of a
    borough). No law or tax
    without consent of both
• Settlements granted a level of self-
 government by the monarch and the
 freedom (or franchise in old French) to
 return members of Parliament
• At first all freemen, that is those who were not serfs, had the
  right to vote
• The 40 shilling franchise:
- Rules were changed in 1429 when it was decreed that only
  freemen who owned freehold land (that is, not leased from
  the land's owner) worth 40 shillings were allowed to vote
• Franchise comes from Old French franchise, from franche,
  feminine of franc, meaning "free" or "exempt"
• Franchising (trade affiliation):
A)Collaboration among entrepreneurs to distribute goods and
  services. If you want to give birth to business without
  starting from zero, you can affiliate your company to an
  already successful brand. On one hand there is a firm already
  well established in the market (franchisor), on the other
  hand there is a company, or person, starting activity
B)The franchisor gives the franchisee the freedom (Franchise)
  to trade its own goods under the former’s label, beside
  technical assistance and consultancy
C)Usually the franchisee gives the franchisor a percentage of
  its budget (royalty)
• Leasing is a process by which a firm can
  obtain the use of a certain fixed assets
  for which it must pay
A)The owner of assets (lessor) gives
  someone else (lessee) the right to use
  those goods, on return of a series of
  contractual, periodic payments
B)At the end of the contract the lessee has
  the faculty to purchase the assets
  through hire-purchase
• Good Parliament
• The Parliament of 1376 was called the Good
    Parliament. The Commons prosecuted some of
    the King's corrupt ministers, a process known
    as impeachment
•   Wonderful Parliament
•   In the Parliament of 1386 the Commons forced
    Richard II to dismiss his Lord Chancellor
    (Minister of Justice)
•   Merciless Parliament
•   Two years later the Merciless Parliament
    condemned to death the former Lord Chancellor
    and in October 1399 Parliament deposed
    Richard II by trial and process
        Parliament and taxation
• Parliament developed in the 13th and
  14th centuries largely through the desire
  of Edward I and his successors to wage
• They had to levy "extraordinary" taxes,
  with Parliament's assent, to raise the
• Each time the King requested assent to a
  tax from Parliament, it could ask a favour
           Knights and Burgesses
• The larger group in the Commons were the
  burgesses, two from each town allowed to
  return representatives
• Burgess selection:
- The King could make a town into a
  parliamentary borough and also set out the
  ways in which representatives were elected:
  that is, who had the franchise.
- The most prominent members in the Commons
  were the knights of the shire. Two knights were
  elected for each county.
- Knights of the shire largely came from and
  primarily expressed the interests of the landed
  elite, known as the gentry
           1911 Parliament Act
• Removal of right of veto for Lords to any
    public legislation approved by Commons
•   Lords maximum legislative delay of one
    month for money bills (taxation) and two
    years for other types of bill
•   Maximum duration of Parliament 5 years
         1949 Parliament Act
• Any bill passed in Commons may be
  delayed only for one year by Lords
• Abolition of University and Enterprise
  seats (one man, one vote)
                 Bill vs Act
• A Bill is a proposal for a new law, or a
  proposal to change an existing law,
  presented for debate before Parliament
• A Bill can start in the Commons or the
  Lords and must be approved in the same
  form by both Houses
• Once approved, the Bill becomes an Act of
  Parliament (Law)
                  Royal Assent
• Royal Assent is the Monarch's agreement to
    make a Bill into an Act of Parliament
•   The Monarch actually has the right to refuse
    Royal Assent but nowadays this does not
•   Royal Assent formula is in Norman French (La
    Reyne le veult)
          Role of Parliament
       Checking the Work of Govt
• Question Time: oral questions to
• Committes: membership reflects party
  strength in House
• Debates in Commons: focused on any
  national and international issue. Votes to
  see whether majority backs Govt
• Debates in Lords: general debates. No
                 Two-House System
• House of Commons (Lower         • House of Lords (Upper House)
    House publicly elected. 646       mostly appointed by Monarch,
    seats each representing a         some elected internally and
    costituency (650 at next          some bishops and archbishops
                                      of Church of England. Since
    general election)
                                      July 2008 746 members
•   Main Functions:               •   Lords Spiritual/Lords Temporal
-   Law-making                    •   Highest Court: Supreme Court
-   Raising and spending public       of Appeal. Group of salaried
    money (Govt takes key             judges (Law Lords) carries out
    decisions, but Commons            this job
    permission needed)            •   Main Functions:
-   Scrutiny: Opposition          -   Consideration and revision of
    challenges Govt and is also       Bills from Commons
    shadow Govt                   -   Initiation of non-controversial
                                  -   General debates
             Position of MPs/Peers
• House of Commons:                 • House of Lords: Govt and
    rectangular shape, Govt             Opposition face each
    and Opposition face each
    other. Govt on right of
                                        other. Govt and Bishops
    Speaker,Official Opposition         on right of Lord Speaker.
    and other parties to the left       Opposition parties on left
•   Govt and Shadow Govt            •   Independent Peers
    members on front benches            (Crossbench Peers) on
    (front-benchers). Junior            benches crossing
    MPs on back benches                 Chamber
•   Crossing the floor: MPs can
    change party at any time.
    In this case they cross the
    floor to the other side
• Formal discussion on Bill or issue of
  topic importance (90 minutes)
• MP introduces subject - moving a
• Speaker in Commons or Lord Speaker
  repeats terms of motion
• Motion debated
• Decision taken, if necessary by voting
         Debates in Commons
• Catching the Speaker’s eye: MPs must
    get Speaker’s attention and usually
    stand, or half rise
•   MPs speak only once, but may
    intervene with brief comments on
    other members’ speech
•   MPs who introduce subject have right
    to reply (tabling a motion)
           Debates in Lords
• Peers speak only once, except when
  clarification requested
• When Lords communicates with
  Commons on a Bill, ritual formula is in
  Norman French (soit baillé aux
    The Speaker of the House of Commons
•   MP elected by other MPs: Politically impartial at all
•   Speaker does not take part in debate or votes, except
    to break ties (casting vote)
•   Casting vote: Speaker may vote as he or she pleases,
    but in practice:
-   Speaker votes to give the House further opportunity
    to debate a bill: in other words, the Speaker would
    vote against amendment
•   Speaker must resign from party and remain separate
    from political issues even after retirement, but will
    deal with constituency’s problems like normal MP
•   Speakers stand in general elections, unopposed by
    major parties. They do not campaign on political
    issues, but only stand as “Speaker seeking re-
                       The Whip
• MP or Peer appointed by each party to make sure
    maximum number of Members votes according to
    party wants
•   18th century fox hunting terminology referring to
    person who drives dogs back to main pack using a
•   Whips send out circular (called 'The Whip') detailing
    upcoming parliamentary business. Special attention
    to divisions. Important divisions underlined three
•   Defying three-line whip has occasionally resulted in
    expulsion from party
•   Whip could resort to mixture of threats, blackmail
    and extortion to force unpopular vote
•   For a minister, consequences for defying party whip
    are absolute: they are dismissed immediately
                     Contacting your MP

• Everyone has the right to contact their local MP to discuss
   issues affecting them. MPs will generally only act on behalf of
   their constituents
A) Telephone
• You will talk to a relevant office or have to leave a message.
   Phone the House of Commons switchboard and ask for your MP
   by name. If you do not know their name then phone the House
   of Commons Information Office
B) By letter
• When writing to any MP the address to use is: House of
   Commons London SW1A 0AA.
C) Email
• The majority of MPs now have email addresses that you can
   write to
D) Fax
• Call the MP's office first if you need to send a fax.
• Need a government minister?
• If you wish to contact a government minister in connection to
   their ministerial responsibilities please use the contact facilities
   on their departmental website
                 Topical Issues
       Economy and finance – current issues

• 02.10.2009
• UK Overseas Trade (Current Account):
    Economic Indicators page
•   09.09.2009
•   UK Overseas Trade in Goods: Economic
    Indicators page
• 08.09.2009
• G20 Leaders' summits: London to Pittsburgh
    (24-25 Sep
• 13.08.2009
• Global Economic Crisis & developing countries
• Hansard (the Official Report) is the edited
  verbatim report of proceedings in both
  Houses. Daily Debates are published on
  website the next working day at 8 am
• Full text of debates and oral and written
  questions for any date since November
  See Historic Hansard for debates before