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Section 5: A Proposed Reform of the House of Lords in the UK




 

Judges in their State robes and fullbottomed wigs at the House of Lords

For the State Opening of Parliament.

 

Before reading the text say what you know about the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

 

The Queen's speech at the opening of Parliament is usually heard in silence. This year, however, something unprecedented happened. When the Queen announced that the government would soon legislate to deprive hereditary aristocrats of their right to vote in the House of Lords, there were sounds of approval from the MPs at the back, and growls of anger from the Lords at the front.

Tony Blair wants to end the absurd anachronism that gives the peers voting rights. He is planning to get rid of the hereditaries but he does not say what will be put in the place of the current House of Lords.

Long ago the Constitution Unit, an independent think-tank, gave warning that abolishing the voting rights of hereditaties before a concrete plan for a reformed House of Lords was made will do no good. It will make the reform process more partisan. It is less likely to lead to a stable solution. The Constitution Unit insists that a 'sunset' clause should be set up, requiring the House of Lords' abolishion and replacement after a set period, perhaps seven years, preferably on the basis of a referendum.

An explicitly transitional arrangement looks necessary, since so many other elements in Britain's constitutional arrangements are in flux - Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish parliaments', possible electoral reform, elected mayors, possible regional assemblies for England. Many things may change during the transitional period.

Instead of a definite scheme for a new second chamber. Labour is setting up a royal commission to decide on the next stage of reform.

The Government says that it will announce its transitional proposals in a white paper, but they will include the establishment of an independent commission to nominate and vet new life peers. The important issue will be the relationship between the commission and the prime minister: the more members that he continues to appoint (or 'nominate'), the stronger will be the accusation that Mr. Blair 's aim is to create a new 'House of Cronies'. It would be far heller if this commission could be genuinely independent, perhaps even with commissioners elected in some way, or if it were a commission of the House of Lords itself. Better still if it were to make its nomination according to some openly published rules. And what might a longer-term arrangement look like? That depends on what has happened in the meantime.

 

 

Vocabulary notes

 

precedent (n.) (adj.) precedent condition unprecedented to announce ['presId@nt] [prI'sI:d@nt]   [ön'presId@ntId] прецедент предшествующий предварительное условие не имеющий прецедента, беспрецедентный 1) объявлять, заявлять, извещать 2) публиковать 3) докладывать  
  The date of the referendum has been an nounced.   Дата референдума уже объявлена.
  The secretary announced another witness.   Секретарь доложила о приходе еще одного свидетеля.
  to deprive   лишать
  to deprive smb of smth   лишать кого-либо чего-либо
  hereditary [hI'redIt@rI] наследственный, традиционный
  MP = Member of Parliament   член Парламента
  Parliament consists of two Houses: the House of Lords and the House of Commons.   Парламент состоит из двух палат: палаты лордов и палаты общин.
  The Member of Parliament is a deputy to the House of Commons.   Член парламента является депутатом палаты общин.
  growl [graul] 1) рычание, ворчание; 2) грохот
  absurd   нелепый, абсурдный, смешной, глупый
  anachronism   анахронизм
  peer   пэр, лорд
  hereditary peer   наследственный пэр
  life peer   пожизненный пэр (титул, не передаваемый по наследству)
  peers comprise: dukes, marquises, earls, viscounts, barons   титулы пэров: герцоги, маркизы, графы, виконты, бароны
  to get rid of smth   отделываться, избавляться
  think-tank   (слэнг) голова, башка
  partisan (n.)   1) приверженец, сторонник; 2) партизан
  partisan (adj.)   1) узкопартийный; 2) фанатичный; 3) партизанский  
  stable   1) стойкий, устойчивый; прочный, крепкий;  
      2) постоянный; 3) твердый, непоколебимый, решительный  
  sunset ['sönset] заход солнца, закат, конец, последний период  
  explicit [Iks'plIsIt] ясный, подробный, явный, точный, определенный  
  He is quite explicit.   Он совершенно точно сформулировал свое мнение (по этому вопросу).  
  transitional   переходный, промежуточный  
  to be in a flux   быть в состоянии постоянного/ непрерывного изменения  
  to elect   1) избирать, выбирать; 2) назначать  
  He was elected chairman.   Он был выбран председателем.  
  mayor   мэр  
  to set up   учреждать, основывать, открывать  
  a white paper   честная /прямая/ объективная газета (белая пресса)  
  compare: a yellow-paper      
  to nominate ['nomIneIt] 1) выставлять, предлагать (на выборах)  
      2) назначать (на должность)  
  to vet   рассматривать, исследовать, проверять  
  crony   близкий/закадычный друг  
  genuine   1) подлинный, истинный, настоящий; 2) искренний  
  genuine sorrow   искренняя горечь  
  commissioner [k@'mIS@n@] 1) специальный уполномоченный, комиссар  
  High Commissioner   верховный комиссар (представитель одной из стран Содружества Начни в другой стране Содружества, представитель британской колонии или доминиона в Англии); 2) член комиссии  
                     

 



§ Words and Grammar

 

a Write out all the words associated with the British Parliament, from the text and translate them into Russian.

................................................. .......................................... ...........................................

................................................. .......................................... ...........................................

................................................. .......................................... ...........................................

b Write down Yesif all the words of each group are synonyms or No in the opposite case and explain the difference between the words in English:

 

Labour – the Government – the MPs – .........................................................................

10 Downing Street .........................................................................

the House of Lords – the Lords – the ..........................................................................

Government ..........................................................................

hereditary aristocrats – hereditary peers – hereditaries ..........................................................................

transitional period – transitional arrange- ..........................................................................

ment – transitional proposal ..........................................................................

their right to vote – their voting right ..........................................................................

 

с Write down one or a few synonyms of the following verbs and make a few short sentences with them:

to arrange............................................................................................

to accuse..............................................................................................

to appoint.............................................................................................

to approve............................................................................................

to reform..............................................................................................

to legislate............................................................................................

 

d Insert the correct prepositions and make short sentences with these word combinations:

 

to deprive smb ......... smth to decide ......... smth
to get rid ......... smb/smth ......... the meantime
to be ......... a flux ......... the basis ......... smth

 

e Explain the meaning of the following in English:

 

• an independent think-tank • a sunset clause • a white paper • a new «House of Cronies»

 

f Write down what parts of speech the words in italics are and make short sentences with the following:

 

a proposed reform......................................................................................................................

at the opening of Parliament......................................................................................................

something unprecedented..........................................................................................................

voting rights...............................................................................................................................

to give warning.........................................................................................................................

abolishing their voting rights will do no good..........................................................................

they insist on that requiring its abolition..................................................................................

commissioners elected in some way.........................................................................................

g Make the following Grammar assignments and translate the sentences in the left-hand column into Russian:

 

1 It is less likely to lead to a stable solution.     2 The more members he continues to appoint the stronger will be the accusation.   3 They speak about a new «House of Cronies» of Mr. Blair's . Underline the Nominative with Infinitive Construction in this sentence. Say with what other verbs it is used. Why is the Definite Article used before the words more and stronger? Make a few similar examples. Why is the Indefinite Article used here? What articles are usually used with the names of Governments and their parts?
4 It would be far better if it were a commission of the House of Lords itself. 5 Better still if it were to make its nomination according to some openly published rules. In what Moods are the verbs used here?   Underline the principal clause of this complex sentence and say what words are missing.  
       

 

Practice in Speaking

 

h What words of the text prove that:

 

1 The House of Commons supported the idea about the reform.

2 The Prime Minister wanted to put an end to the voting rights of the hereditary peers.

3 The Prime Minister had no concrete programme of the reform.

 

i Sum up what the text said about:

• the Constitution Unit

• the transitional period proposed

j Agree or disagree and substantiate your viewpoint:

 

1 The Lords were indifferent to the proposed reform.

2 The authour of the article supports Labour.

3 Every change in laws needs a transitional period.

 

k Have another look at the picture and diagram accompanying the text and answer the following questions:

• What do you think about the appearance of the Judges?

• Do the Judges sitting in the House of Lords have life or hereditary titles, to your mind?

• What about bishops?

• How many life and hereditary peers are there in the House of Lords?

• For what date were these figures valid?

• Why do you think the figures sometimes change?

 





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