Uk, European & Global Institutions

Nick Drewe
Flashcards by Nick Drewe, updated more than 1 year ago
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A summary of second year Public Affairs topic "UK, European & Global Institutions"

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What is a constitution? A shared system of values. Fundamental laws and principals and the powers and duties of governments.
How is an unwritten constitution referred to? Uncodified.
What are the +/- of an uncodified constitution? + Flexibility. It can be amended, added to etc without complicated procedures. - 'Big Brother' assault on liberties like the anti-terror legislation (can change perceived duties easily, without long, public process).
What are the Sources of our constitution? Statutes, Common Law, Conventions, Treatises, Treaties
What are the Principles behind our constitution? Rule of Law, Parliamentary Sovereignty, Separation of Powers, Democratic Government
What are statutes? Individual laws (acts of parliament), some are very, VERY old.
Give two examples of important, historical statutes with their associated laws. -1215 Magna Carta- Brings with it the Rule of Law (right to a fair trial) -1689 Bill of Rights- Ending the Divine Right of Kings, placing Parliament above Sovereignty
What is common law? Also known as 'case law' or 'precedent', it's a unified framework of more reasoned previous judgements.
What are treatises? Works of authority. These include works of theorists, political philosophers and thinkers, and documents so revered they're considered constitution.
What are conventions? Traditions, practices and customs. For example, Collective Responsibility.
What are International Treaties and what are two examples of International Treaties being incorporated into British Constitution? International Membership Agreements. e.g. NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) ECHR (European Court of Human Rights)
What does the Rule of Law come from and what does it entail? The Magna Carta Right to trial by jury
What groups (and titles) are made through The Separation of Powers? -Executive (the Government) -Legislature (Parliament) -Judiciary (the Courts)
Whose quote is the most fundamental guiding principle of our constitution, what does it refer to, and what its underlying message? Montesquie, when talking of the Separation of Powers, said that if one body had all three powers (executive, legislative and judiciary) there would be no liberty and an end to everything.
What statute is Parliamentary Sovereignty derived from, and what does the principle constitute? Derived from the Bill of Rights meaning Parliament can make and unmake any law on any subject. No one Parliament is bound by its predecessors, nor can they bind theirs.
Describe the principle of Democracy A governmental system of elected representatives who reflect the people's will, are answerable for their decisions, apply laws equally to all and allow for freedom of expression and opinion.
How does the EU effect our constitution? Laws passed on a European level are considered legally superior to domestic law and are protected by the European Court of Justice. EU Directives are now considered a source of our constitution.
What is the difference between a Constitutional Monarchy and an Absolute Monarchy? What do we have in the UK? A Constitutional Monarchy reigns but does not rule. An Absolute Monarchy reigns and rules. We have a Constitutional Monarchy.
What are the Notional Prerogative Powers? (name five) - Dissolving and summoning parliament, calling elections, forming new parliaments after results - Giving royal assent to Parliamentary bills - Appointing ministers / senior public officials (judges, diplomats, bishops etc) - Writing Queen's Speech - Declaring War and Peace - Prorogation of Parliament (suspension of activities over holiday periods) - Drawing up lists of nominations for peerages / honours etc.
What does The Queen have to do after every election? Appoint the new Prime Minister simply due to convention. She invites the leader of the majority party to be PM.
What actual powers does The Queen still retain? Head of state, Head of executive, legislature and judiciary, Commander in chief of the armed forces, Supreme Governor of C of E, Head of Commonwealth, Authority for license to print money (Royal Mint).
What ceremonial tasks does The Queen participate in? Reading Queen's Speech at opening of Parliament, Governing C of E, creating Peers, Knighthoods, honours, Weekly meeting with PM to offer advise, Entertains visiting heads of state at Buckingham Palace, Official state visits as overseas ambassador, Chairs meetings of Privy Council, Troops the colour.
What power does The Queen have in the commonwealth? The same powers of advice and influence as she does in Britain.
What law of royal succession did the Queen recently change (and when)? Sons of monarchs will no longer displace an older sister in the line of succession as of May 2012.
How is the monarchy currently funded? The 'Sovereign Grant'
How did the monarchy used to be funded and when did it change? Until two years ago, the monarchy was funded by the Civil List (tax payers), Grants-in-Aid (DCMS), DfT, Privy Purse and Personal Income
Who form parliament? ALL elected MPs.
Who form government? The political party with the most seats from a general election.
What is the government responsible for? Developing and implementing policy and drafting laws.
What is the government also known as? The Executive.
What is parliament also known as? Legislature.
What is the job of Parliament? Check the work of the government and examine, debate and approve new laws (passing legislation).
What is a cabinet minister? Often entitled "Secretary of State for..." to denote seniority, they head up a major government spending department. e.g. 'Secretary of State for Health'
What is the role of the PM? Appoints his Cabinet of around 20-30 ministers, chairs cabinet meetings and sets agendas for cabinet and its committees.
Who can hold the Prime Minster to account? The Press, public, Parliament and their own party (backbench rebellions).
What bodies represent (a) Labour and (b) the Tories, and what do they do? The Parliamentary Labour Party (Labour) and the 1922 Committee (Tory). Both are there to question and scrutinise the PM to make sure they're doing the right jobs. The 1922 Committee were involved in removing Margaret Thatcher as PM.
Describe Collective Responsibility Cabinet ministers must endorse and support the actions of their own government publicly even if they don't agree privately. If you don't like it shut up or resign.
Describe Individual Ministerial Responsibility If a serious error or scandal occurs 'on your watch' as a minister, do the honourable thing and step down (resign). In practice though, the PM often sacks them before they have chance to quit.
What is The Civil Service? The administration structure of government departments, with political neutrality (so they continue throughout changes in political makeup). Senior Civil Servants advise ministers.
What are Special Policy Advisors? Appointed to and by ministers to give policy and political advice and sometimes brief the media. They are temporary civil servants paid for by the state, but aren't bound by the civil service code.
What is the structural makeup of the Civil Service? 60 Departments and 100 Executive Agencies and Quangos, employing more than 500,000 people.
What does a Parliamentary Ombudsman do? Investigates public complaints about government departments and other public bodies, focusing on individuals who have suffered injustice through maladministration. They can recommend action but can't enforce.
What are the three types of Legislation (with brief description)? Public Bill - Changes the law of the land so affects everyone. Private Bill - At the request of a specific body, like the Highways Agency asking for new roads. Hybrid - between more than one governmental body (e.g. Channel Tunnel)
What are the three ways to introduce a Private Members Bill (PMB)? PMB Fridays Ten Minute Rule Presentation Bills
Explain PMB Fridays MPs take part in a ballot on one of 13 PMB Fridays to try to introduce their bill. First 20 names out of a hat may introduce bills. Strong cross-party support makes a strong chance of success. Lack of support means an easily blocked proposal.
Explain the 10 Minute Rule On most Tuesdays and Wednesdays a 10 minute speech is given outlining proposals that have the support of at least 10 members. Opposing opinions can have 10 minutes to counter. No further discussion past the 10 minutes so unlikely to become law.
Explain Presentation Bills MPs present their bill to Parliament but cannot speak in support of it. Very little chance of bill becoming law.
Why are the 10 Minute Rule and Presentation Bills used despite their low chance of success? Mainly as a method of publicising a particular issue.
If the House of Commons is the first of the Two Chambers, what is the second? The House of Lords
What is the House of Lords also known as, and what do they do? Known as the Upper House, membership is mostly appointed, and includes experts in certain fields. It helps to make laws, holds the government to account and investigates policy issues.
What are the two types of Lords in the House of Lords? Lords Spiritual - Archbishops and Bishops of C of E. Lords Temporal - Elected Hereditary Peers, life Peers, Law Lords, Earl Marshal and Lord Great Chamberlain.
What issues are there that may cause for a House of Lords reform? People are entitled to sit there by birthright (hereditary peers) or political appointees is considered undemocratic.
What relationship do the two Houses have with each other? Decisions made in one House have to be approved by the other. They can't prevent Bills from being passed, but can delay them for up to 13 months so that the other can further consider their decisions. They CANNOT delay a money bill.
How is the House of Lords' Lord Speaker appointed and what is their job? Internally elected by Members of the House of Lords. They must have political impartiality and offer procedural advise but have no other greater power.
What is the process of creating a bill? Early draft form Green Paper - broad 'spirit' of the bill White Paper - definitive statement
What is the passage of a white paper bill leading to passing? First reading Second reading Committee Stage Report Stage Third reading The Lords (can suggest amendments) Royal Assent
Explain the Fixed Term Parliaments Act Given Royal Assent September 2011; as of 2015, Elections to Parliament must now be held every five years unless dissolved before by the House of Lords. This is instead of The Queen being able to dissolve Parliament whenever she wished UP TO five years of parliamentary reign.
How does the electoral system work, and what are the +/-? First Past the Post (winner takes all). Each constituency has a single winning candidate who receives more votes than any other candidate in their area. + Easy to count, fast, area specific - Not representative, if votes are split a lot, people can win on tiny percentages of votes.
What are two examples of a Proportional Representation (PR) voting model? Single Transferable Vote (STV) Alternative Vote (AV)
Who make sure the electoral procedure is followed, and refer cases to CPS if electoral law is broken? The Electoral Commission.
Who oversees Local counts and what do they have to do? The Returning Officer. Makes all preparations locally, announces results, decides spoilt papers and oversees the count.
What rules surround Journalists at the count? Journalists must apply for access to the Returning Officer. They must abide direction the Returning Officer gives. The Returning Officer doesn't have to allow the press into the count.
What are the pre-requisites of voting in a General Election? A British or Commonwealth citizen living in the UK, registered in their constituency to vote and over 18.
Who cannot vote, even if they meet the pre-requisites? Convicts detained in prison.
Who can stand as an MP and what rules surround standing? Any UK citizen over 18. Must be nominated by 10 parliamentary electors of the constituency they want to stand in, with administrative authorisation also required by the party. A £500 deposit is paid when submitting nomination papers, returned upon receiving >=5% votes.
Who cannot stand as an MP? Undischarged bankrupt Detained mental health patient History or future of >1 year in jail Guilty of corrupt-illegal electoral practice Politically restricted post (civil servant, police, judge etc.)
What is the basis of the EU's existence? Mutual cooperation of member states. It is a federal union (groups controlled by a larger power).
What agreements and treaties does the EU impose upon the UK? The Maastricht Treaty The Schengen Agreement
What event happened when the UK was placed under the Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM) in 1990 by the EU in preparation for introducing the Euro across Europe? Black Wednesday 1992 The ERM pegged exchange rates in the EU to each other, containing exchange fluctuations to a narrow bracket. Our close link to the US economy and not Europe's, making exchange rates unsustainable. Currency Speculators bought and sold £ for its unstable nature, making billions. The pound dropped and the Government spend £27billion in 24 hours trying to prop up the pound.
Why did Britain leave the ERM? Our exchange rates were far too different to the rest of Europe's, they were dragging the value of the pound down hugely.
Why did economic migration become a problem? Expansion of EU into Eastern Bloc countries like Bulgaria and Romania, poorer countries migrated to richer countries via free movement of labour, goods, services etc.
What is the Democratic Deficit? NORTH / SOUTH DIVIDE Countries (Scotland) are governed by leaders they did not elect. Scotland are heavily Labour, but the Conservative votes of the south mean a Conservative government for the entire country.
What is Devolution? The passing of the power or authority of one person or body to another.
When did Devolution happen in the UK and what was the result? In 1997/8 public votes were held in Scotland, Wales and Ireland. Resultantly, the following three parliaments were created: - Scottish Parliament - National Assembly for Wales - Northern Ireland Assembly
What reserved powers does the UK Gov still hold over the entirety of the UK? All powers that have not been devolved. These include foreign affairs, defence, international relations and economic policy.
What is The West Lothian Question? Give an example. Scottish MPs can vote on issues that only affect England & Wales but have no bearing on their own country. English & Welsh MPs can't vote on issues specific to Scotland. e.g. Scottish MPs voted for increased student fees and changed the outcome, even though Scottish students don't.
What is the Chancellor of the Exchequer responsible for? Raising revenue through taxation or borrowing and controlling public spending. He covers fiscal policy (including presenting annual Budget), manages the national debt, monetary policy, setting inflation targets.
Who is currently the Chancellor of the Exchequer? The Right Honourable George Osborne
What is the Chancellor of the Exchequer known as within Government? The most powerful minister in the cabinet bar the PM, and the PM's 'true' deputy.
What is the purpose of the Budget? Provide an update on the state of the economy. Present new economic forecasts. Set out Government's new financial objectives. Report on progress on past objectives. Announce rises and cuts in taxation and spending.
What are the responsibilities of the Bank of England? Maintain stable and efficient financial framework for the UK economy. Issue bank notes. Set interest rates, reviewed monthly by the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) to follow inflation.
What government funded, independent organisation produces economic forecasts for sustainability and budget impact? Quango (Quasi-Autonomous Non-Governmental Organisation)
What is a recession? A two (or more) quarter drop in the business cycle, where demand, output and investment drops and unemployment rises.
What are the two kinds of taxes? Direct Taxes (income and gains tax; the more you gain the more you pay). A PROGRESSIVE TAX Indirect Taxes (spending tax; VAT, alcohol tax, fuel tax etc.). A REGRESSIVE TAX
What is a Consumer Price Index (CPI)? Measure average prices of a basket of consumer goods and services such as transportation, food and medicine for a household.
What is the National Insurance Scheme (NI)? A 'contribution' deducted from your wages and topped up by employers. Helps finance future benefits should they be needed.
What government departments are responsible for welfare? The Department for Work & Pensions (DWP) HM Treasury - raises taxes to pay for benefits.
What are the two categories of welfare? Contributory - available through your NI contributions if high enough. Non-contributory - 'needs-based' payment. Low income (income support, job seeker).
Who can get means-tested benefits? People who can demonstrate their income (and capital) is below specified limits. This can be for income support or housing benefit.
What is Universal Credit and why was it brought in? An all in one benefit and tax credit to remove 'disincentives' from going into a job. Low income individuals still get it.
What is a benefit cap? Households on benefits can no longer receive more in benefits than the average wage for working families.
What are the responsibilities of the Home Office? Policing and crime prevention Security, counter terrorism Asylum, immigration and citizenship
Aside from the Home Secretary, what ministers make up the Home Office? The ministers for: -Immigration -Crime prevention and antisocial behaviour reduction -Policing and criminal justice -Equalities and criminal information -Crime and security
When was the Freedom of Information Act passed and what does it cover? November 2000 covering the Public sector
What is the concept behind FoI? In a democracy, the electorate should be able to know about actions, decisions and spending by the officials representing them.
What statutory time frame is placed on an FoI request? 20 days.
When will an FoI request be rejected? The information is legally exempt in the public interest, the request is 'vexatious' (imposes significant burden, or is designed to cause unnecessary disruption), or the costs exceed appropriate limits (£600 central, £450 local).
Who can you complain to if there is an issue with a FoI request? The Information Commissioner (ICO)
When can you complain about an FoI request? When the authority fails to: -Provide the requested information -Respond within 20 working days -Give proper advice and help -Give information in the form requested -Explain reasons for a rejected request
If unsatisfied with an Information Commissioner's decision, who do you make an appeal to and when? The Information Tribunal within 28 days of the IC's decision.
What rules, regulations and practices surround the royal family with regards Freedom of Information? The Royal Family is not a public authority so does not fall into FoI. However, they account openly for their use of publicly money.
What does a back bench MP do? Holds government to account by scrutinising bills. They speak and vote in parliamentary debates, including questioning ministers. Can try to introduce PMBs. Outside of the government they communicate and answer the questions of the constituents including holding surgeries.
Describe the Whip system 1, 2, 3 line whip. It enforces party discipline. There's a chief whip, and it makes sure that party members vote. If you defy a 3 line whip you can be expelled from your party.
What are the characteristics of an Academy? Academies are publicly funded (by central government), independent of local education authorities and not bound by national curriculum.
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