Government - Stakeholders

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Who Runs The Country?

A wide variety of stakeholders – people and groups – influence public policy and decision making on how the country is run.[1] All representatives (MPs, MEPs, Councillors, etc.) are elected by citizens, except for Civil Service employees. Govt-Who-Runs-The-Country.png


The British Constitution is not written down in one document. The gradual evolution of democracy in the United Kingdom means that it exists as a number of individual laws, political conventions and judicial interpretations.[2]

See main article: Constitution (UK)

The Government: the United Kingdom is a parliamentary democracy, where the government (the executive) is taken directly from parliament (the legislature). The government is led by the Prime Minister, who has final responsibility for all policy and decisions. The infographic above shows that government policies are influenced by many stakeholders.[3]
A government serves for a maximum of 5 years, but it may call a general election at any time during this period (a 'snap election'). By-elections may occur due to factors such as retirement, illness or death.

See main article: Government (UK)

The UK Parliament has supreme authority to make legislation (laws) for the country, and to repeal laws it previously passed. This authority is known as parliamentary sovereignty, and means that no other institution in the country can question a valid Act of Parliament.[4] There is much debate surrounding parliamentary sovereignty, including devolution and membership of the European Union.[5],[6]

See main article: UK Parliament

The Cabinet is a committee of senior politicians (Ministers) who are drawn from Parliament. [7] [8] [9] A Cabinet member is called a 'Minister', and is head of a government department such as the Department of Health. [10], [11] [12] [13], [14], [15], [16], [17], [18] Ministers are responsible to Parliament for the management of the nation’s affairs. The Cabinet is collectively responsible for the decisions it makes. [19], [20]

See main article: Cabinet (UK)

The Civil Service is an integral part of the Government. Civil servants help Ministers develop and implement Government policies and deliver public services. Most Civil Servants work in Departments of State, which are headed by Ministers. Civil servants are accountable to Ministers, who in turn are accountable to Parliament.[21] [22] [23],[24],[25] Civil servants are career bureaucrats and rarely leave the Service.

See main articles: Civil Service (UK) and Northern Ireland Civil Service

Devolved Governments: Devolution is a type of administrative decentralisation where Parliament grants powers to a territory or region to make its own legislation. Devolution is reversible; legislation creating devolved parliaments or assemblies can be repealed or amended by the UK Government in the same way as any statute. [26], [27]
Devolved governments[28] have been created in the United Kingdom in Wales[29], Scotland[30] and Northern Ireland[31],[32]. A London Assembly has also been created, which has limited powers.[33]

See main articles: Parliament (Scotland) and National Assembly for Wales
See main articles: Northern Ireland Assembly and London Assembly

Arm's Length Bodies aka Quangos A Quango is a "QUasi-Autonomous Non-Governmental Organisation". A quango is a hybrid form of organization, with elements of both non-govt organizations (NGOs) and public sector bodies. It is typically an organisation to which a govt has given devolved power, but which is still partly controlled and/or financed by govt bodies.
The term covers different "arm's-length" govt bodies, including: non-departmental public bodies, executive agencies, and non-ministerial departments. An example is the Forestry Commission, which is a non-ministerial govt department responsible for forestry in England and Scotland.
The govt's 1997 definition is in the process of being reformed. See also QuangoWikipedia-W.svg

Local Government refers to local authorities, also called Councils. The country is split up into different areas, each with a council that takes care of local issues such as rubbish collection, roads and parks.
Councils are made up of Councillors, who are voted for by the public in local elections. Council Officers (paid council staff) provide the services the council delivers. [34] [35] [36]

See main article: Local Government

Elections are one of the fundamental characteristics of a democratic state.[37] Elected officials are accountable to the electorate (voters) and must return to them at fixed regular intervals to seek their mandate (permission) to continue in office.[38] When an election is called, candidates compete with each other for votes by trying to influence voters with campaigns.[39] See also [40], [41], [42] [43] [44]

See main articles: General Elections and Local Elections
See main articles: European Elections and Electoral Systems

The European Union

  • 1972: Parliament passed the European Communities Act 1972, which allowed the UK to join the European Union (then called the European Community).
  • 1973: The UK signed the Treaty of Rome and became a member state of the European Community.
  • 1975: The Government held a referendum to gauge support from the UK's continued membership of the European Community.
  • Subsequent legislation ratifying other EU treaties has furthered the UK’s level of integration in the EU.

It can be argued that the EU has had an impact on Parliamentary sovereignty in that some legislation affecting the UK is now decided at a European level, rather than by Parliament. The UK is duty bound to apply this legislation under its treaty obligations.

However, because Parliament could decide to repeal the European Communities Act and other legislation, so the amount of Parliamentary sovereignty actually lost is contested.

The EU Act 2011 aims to clarify this relationship and requires referenda to be held in the event of any transfer of significant power from the UK to Europe. Also see Development of the EU Act 2011.

The impact of the EU on the UK is a constant topic of debate.