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Text A. THE BRITISH MONARCHY TODAY
The United Kingdom is a constitutional monarchy. This means that it has a monarch (a king or a queen) as its Head of State. The monarch reigns with the support of Parliament. The powers of the monarch are not defined precisely. Everything today is done in the Queen’s name. It is her government, her armed forces, her law courts and so on. She appoints all the Ministers, including the Prime Minister. Everything is done however on the advice of the elected Government, and the monarch takes no part in the decision-making process.
Once the British Empire included a large number of countries all over the world ruled by Britain. The process of decolonisation began in 1947 with the independence of India, Pakistan and Ceylon. Now, apart from Hong Kong and a few small islands, there is no longer an empire. But the British ruling classes tried not to lose influence over the former colonies of the British Empire. An association of former members of the British Empire and Britain was founded in 1949. It is called the Commonwealth. It includes many countries such as Ireland, Burma, the Sudan, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and others. The Queen of Great Britain is also the Head of the Commonwealth, and so the Queen of Canada, Australia, New Zealand...
The Queen is very rich as are other members of the royal family. In addition, the government pays for her expenses as Head of State, for a royal yacht, train and aircraft as well as for the upkeep of several palaces. The Queen’s image appears on stamps, notes and coins.
Parliament consists of two chambers known as the House of Commons and the House of Lords. Parliament and the monarch have different roles in the government of the country, and they only meet together on symbolic occasions such as the coronation of a new monarch or the opening of Parliament. In reality, the House of Commons is the only one of the three which has true power. It is here that new bills are introduced and debated. If the majority of the members are in favour of a bill it goes to the House of Lords to be debated and finally to the monarch to be signed. Only then it becomes law. Although a bill must be supported by all three bodies, the House of Lords only has limited powers, and the monarch has not refused to sign one since the modern political system began over 200 years ago.
Text B. THE BRITISH PARLIAMENT AND THE ELECTORAL SYSTEM
The British Parliament consists of the House of Lords and the House of Commons and the Queen as its head.
The House of Commons plays the major role in law-making. It consists of Members of Parliament (called MPs for short), each of whom represents an area in England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. MPs are elected either at a general election, or at a by-election following the death or retirement of an MP.
Parliamentary elections must be held every five years, but the Prime Minister can decide on the exact date within those five years. The minimum voting age is 18, and the voting is taken by secret ballot.
The election campaign lasts about three weeks. The election is decided on a simple majority-the candidate with most votes wins. An MP who wins by a small number of votes may have more votes against him (that is, for the other candidates) than for him. Many people think that it is unfair because the wishes of those who voted for the unsuccessful candidates are not represented at all. The British parliamentary system depends on political parties. The political parties choose candidates in elections. The party which wins the majority of seats forms the Government and its leader usually becomes Prime Minister. The Prime Minister chooses about 20 MPs from his or her party to become the Cabinet of Ministers. Each minister is responsible for a particular area of the government: The second largest party becomes the official opposition with its own leader and ‘Shadow cabinet’. Leader of the Opposition is a recognized post in the House of Commons.
Text C. THE HOUSE OF COMMONS
The House of Commons is made up of 650 elected members, known as Members of Parliament (MPs). The House of Commons is presided over by the Speaker2, a member acceptable to the whole House. MPs sit on two sides of the hall, one side for the governing party and the other for the opposition. The first two rows of seats are occupied by the leading members of both parties (called ‘front-benchers’)3, the back benches belong to the rank-and-file MPs (‘back-benchers’)4. Each session of the House of Commons lasts for 160-175 days. Parliament has intervals during its work. MPs are paid for their parliamentary work and have to attend -the sittings. MPs have to catch the Speaker’s eye when they want to speak, then they rise from where they have been sitting to address the House and must do so without either reading a prepared speech or consulting notes.
Although there is some space given to other than government proposals, the lion’s share of parliamentary time is taken by the party in power. A proposed law, a bill, has to go through three stages in order to become an Act of Parliament. These are called readings. The first reading is a formality and is simply the publication of the proposal. The second reading involves debate on the principles of the bill, its examination by a parliamentary committee, and the third reading-a report stage, when the work of the committee is reported on to the House. This is usually the most important stage in the process. The third reading is often a formality too; if six members table a motion, then there has to be a debate on the third reading. If the majority of MPs still vote for the bill, it is sent to the House of Lords for discussion. When the Lords agree, the bill is taken to the Queen for Royal assent. All bills must pass through both houses before being sent for signature by the Queen, when they become Acts of Parliament and the Law of the Land.
5. Выпишите из текста эквиваленты следующих слов и выражений: содружество; палата парламента; палата лордов; законопроект; член парламента; «теневой кабинет» министров; всеобщие выборы; дополнительные выборы; тайное голосование; поставить предложение на обсуждение.
6. Выпишите из текста 2 предложения, содержащие сказуемое в активном залоге. Подчеркните сказуемое и определите его видовременную форму. Измените предложения таким образом, чтобы сказуемое имело все возможные грамматические формы.
7. Выпишите из текста 2 предложения, содержащие сказуемое в пассивном залоге. Подчеркните сказуемое и определите его видовременную форму. Переведите предложения на русский язык.
8. Составьте резюме, используя образец стр. 27.
КОНТРОЛЬНАЯ РАБОТА №1
Выполните следующие задания:
1. Образуйте форму множественного числа следующих существительных: branch, arrangement, authority, treaty, power, liberty, chief, case.
2. Поставьте все личные местоимения в объектном падеже и напишите соответствующие им притяжательных местоимений.
3. Образуйте степени сравнения следующих прилагательных: important, modern, good, sharp, polite, popular, interesting, difficult.
4. Прочтите и переведите тексты. Текст A переведите письменно.
Text A. US GOVERNMENT
The operation of the US government is based on the US Constitution which was adopted by Congress in 1789.
Under the federal system of government some of the most important powers are given to the federal (or national) government. The rest of the powers are exercised by the states. The national government is composed of three branches: the executive, the legislative, and the judicial. Certain powers are given to each of the branches, but these powers overlap in such a way that the powers of one branch are limited by the powers of the others. This arrangement is known as the system of checks and balances. It is a basic part of the structure of the American governmental system. No person or institution can have unlimited authority. Each branch of the national government shares and limits some of the powers of the other branches.
The system of «checks and balances» is clearly illustrated by the president’s relations with the Congress. The president proposes legislation, but the Congress does not have to enact it. He cannot put a treaty into effect without approval by two-thirds of the Senate. In 1973 the legislature limited the President’s powers as commander-in-chief by prohibiting commandment of armed forces abroad for combat without specific congressional approval. The Senate must approve most of the president’s appointments to the executive and judicial branches.
Another example of «checks and balances» is that the Congress must authorize money that is used to pay for programs which are administered by the executive branch. In this way the legislature exercises an important check on the executive branch and the power of the president. The financial authority or spending power of the legislature checks the spending power of the president.
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