The English government, Northern Ireland, part of the United Kingdom and of Great Britain is a constitutional monarchy. The Prime Minister with the assistance of the cabinet and ministers leads the English government. Here is a brief explanation of the roles that are played in this very important process.
The Prime Minister
The head of the English government is the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister is based in London at Number 10 Downing Street and ultimately the Prime Minister is responsible for all
decisions and policy. Here is a brief overview of the Prime Minister’s Responsibilities:
- Appointing members of the government
- Overseeing the operations of the government and Civil Service agencies
- In the House of Commons, the Prime Minister is the chief government figure
The senior members of the government make up the Cabinet. On a weekly basis, during Parliament members of the Cabinet such as Secretaries of State as well as certain other ministers will meet to go over and thoroughly discuss important subjects and issues pertaining to the English government.
There is a total of one hundred and eighteen ministers, one Prime Minister, twenty-one Cabinet ministers, and ninety-six other ministers. Minister are chosen from among the House of Lords and the house of commons by the Prime Ministers. Ministers are held responsible for the actions of their departments, this includes both the successes as well as the failures of said departments.
How Is The English Government Run?
There are a variety of government departments and agencies, there are twenty-seven ministerial departments, twenty-two non-ministerial departments and three hundred agencies and other public bodies. These departments along with their agencies are the ones responsible for putting government policies into practice.
There are some departments such as the Ministry of Defense who cover the entire UK and others such as the Department for Work and Pensions who do not cover certain areas, in this case, Northern Ireland. This is due to the fact that certain government aspects have been devolved to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Ministers do not head non-ministerial departments, these are headed by senior civil servants. They generally have an inspection or regulatory function such as the Charity Commission. Executive agencies usually provide government services, they are part of government departments, however, they do not decide policy, the department overseeing the agency is responsible for that. A clear example of this is the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency which is overseen by the Department for Transport.
Other public bodies have a degree of independence which varies, they are however directly accountable to ministers. There are four kinds of NDPBs (non-departmental public bodies), these are:
- Executive NDPBs: They work in specific areas of the government such as the Environment Agency.
- Advisory NDPBs: They offer expert and individual advice to ministers such as the Committee on Standards of Public Life.
- Tribunal NDPBs: They form part of the justice system, they also have jurisdiction over certain specific areas of law such as the Competition Appeal Tribunal.
- Independent NDPBs: These are monitoring boards who are responsible for the treatment of prisoners and the running of prisons such as Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons.
The practical, as well as the administrative work of the government, is done by the Civil Service. The Prime Minister manages this and it is also coordinated by the Prime Minister, this is the Prime Minister’s role as Minister for the Civil Service. Close to half of all civil servants services are provided direct to the general public, this includes:
- Running Employment Services
- Issuing Driver’s Licenses
- Paying Pensions and Benefits
- Staffing Prisons
- and much more.
There are several stages which laws must go through before the are actually passed by Parliament. These are made by the House of Lords and the House of Commons. These can include:
White papers summarize proposals being made for brand new laws. Green papers request public comments prior to the white papers being published. Bills are proposals for changes to existing laws to be made or for brand new laws to be instated. Once Parliament agrees on a certain law, before it can actually become a law it must be approved by The Queen herself.
Acts of Parliament
An Act of parliament is a bill which has already been approved by the Commons, the Lords and of course The Queen. The pertinent government department is the one responsible for setting this act into motion and practice.
The government wants the public to be informed of how the government is run. Information on how the government works is published by the government in order to make all politicians, public organization and public services more accountable to the people. The government commits themselves to publish information on subjects such as:
- The amount of public funds which have been spent as well as on what they were spent.
- How the government is reaching their objectives.
- What job titles senior civil servants hold and what is their salary etc.