UK System of Governance
The UK has a parliamentary system of governance, with the Westminster Parliament being the supreme law-making body. The doctrine of supremacy (or sovereignty) of Parliament means that the courts accept that legislation enacted by Parliament takes precedence over the common law (essentially, judge-made law as developed through cases).
Branches of Government and Separation of Power
There is no formal separation of powers in the UK constitution, but there are three 'de facto' bodies that make up branches of the state, which together provide for the separation of power.
|Branches of UK State||Members||Roles and Responsibilities|
|The ‘Legislative’ branch||
Head of State
The House of Commons
The House of Lords
British Parliament is the legislative branch of government, comprising two parts:
Which limit the power of each other and are there to provide for the best expertise of any legislation going through. Any Bill passed by the Parliament gains legitimate power only when the Queen approves it, however, nowadays it's more of a formal ceremony rather than a proper check.
|The ‘Executive’ branch||
Head of State
The Prime Minister, other Government Ministers
The Civil Service
Members of the police and armed forces.
|Responsible for implementing the bills/legislation produced by the Parliament. Their actions are mainly limited by the judiciary and publicity.|
|The ‘Judicial’ branch||
Head of State
Legally-qualified Judges and Magistrates
Non-legally-qualified members of the public
Third branch of power in the UK and it is made up of the court system with the Supreme Court on top. Its members have a great power because they are the ones who decide what the law actually implies in any given case.
The power of judges in the UK is higher than many countries, because UK does not have a written constitution and therefore there is no supreme set of laws collected in one place to be available for the citizens. Due to this enormous power judiciary has a large amount of checks and balances:
Judiciary is often considered the most efficient check on the Parliament, because any MP can be called to the court to answer for his actions, thus preventing the state or the 'executive' from exercising its powers in an unlawful manner.
The Head of State is the monarch (currently Queen Elizabeth II) who is unelected and who occupies that position by virtue of birth. In practice, the role of the monarch is largely ceremonial.
Most of the monarch's legal powers are exercised by the Government on her behalf. The monarch is part of the legislative process because they must give Royal Assent before a bill that has passed through Parliament becomes an Act of Parliament.
Some powers that the Government exercises are derived from the Royal Prerogative and are exercised in the name of the monarch, although the monarch remains legally responsible for their exercise. The Royal Prerogative is what remains of the absolute powers that were formerly exercised by the monarch and which have not been removed by Parliament. These powers include matters of national security, the defence of the realm and the deployment of the armed forces.