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Government of the United Kingdom

The House of Lords during the Queen's SpeechThe House of Lords during the Queen's SpeechThe United Kingdom is a constitutional monarchy in which the reigning monarch (the King or Queen), although Head of State, does not make any political decisions. These are taken by the Government and Parliament. The Government is led by the Prime Minister, who, along with other senior ministers, belongs to the Cabinet, the decision-making body of the Government. Cabinet ministers are also Members of Parliament, and are responsible to it. Parliament consists of two houses: the House of Commons, whose members are elected by British voters, and the House of Lords. The Government is dependent on Parliament to make laws, called statutes, or Acts of Parliament.


The Palace of Westminster, LondonThe Palace of Westminster, LondonA quick guide to how parliament worksA quick guide to how parliament worksClick to play videoParliament is the supreme legislative (law-making) body in the United Kingdom. Its head is the Sovereign of the United Kingdom, the monarch (currently Queen Elizabeth II), and its seat is the Palace of Westminster in the City of Westminster, London. Parliament consists of an upper house, the House of Lords, and a lower house, the House of Commons. 

Each year, the parliamentary session begins with the State Opening of Parliament, a ceremony in the Lords Chamber (where the House of Lords sits) during which the monarch, in the presence of Members of both Houses, delivers an address called the Queen's Speech, outlining the Government's agenda.

The Queen delivers the Queen's SpeechThe Queen delivers the Queen's Speech


The Chamber in which the House of Commons sits is quite small. There are benches on two sides of the Chamber, divided by a centre aisle. This arrangement reflects the design of St Stephen's Chapel, which served as the House of Commons Chamber until it was destroyed by fire in 1834.

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