THE YEARS OF SELF-CONFIDENCE

Industrial Power.In 1851 Queen Victoria opened the Great Exhibition of the Industries of All Nations in the Crystal Palace in London. The aim of the Exhibition was to show the world the greatness of Britain's industry. No other nation could produce as much at that time. By 1850 Britain was producing more iron than the rest of the world together. Britain had become powerful because it had enough coal, iron and steel for its own industry and could even export them to Europe. Having coal, iron and steel, it could produce new heavy industrial goods like ships and steam engines. It could also make machinery which produced English traditional goods woolen and cotton cloth in the factories of Lancashire. Britain's cloth was cheap and was exported to India, to other colonies and to the Middle East. Britain had the largest fleet in the world. The railway. The pride of Britain and a great example of its industrial power was its railway system. The first trains were goods trains, which quickly became very popular because they made transporting goods faster and cheaper. The network of railway tracks was quickly growing and by 1840 their total length was 2,400 miles. Railways connected not only the industrial towns with London, but also economically unimportant towns. The canals were soon empty, because everything went by railway. The speed of the railway even made it possible to deliver fresh fish and raspberries from Scotland to London in one night.

In 1851 the railway companies provided passenger train service. Passenger trains stopped at all stations. Now people could move from place to place much more quickly and easily. With the introduction of the railway system many people began to live in suburbs, from which they traveled into the city every day by train. The suburb was a copy of a country village with all the advantages of a town.

CHANGES IN THE LIFE OF PEOPLE

Like many modern developed countries, the United Kingdom has a mixed economy. This means that some sectors of the economy are operated by the government and some are operated by private businesses. Since World War II (1939-1945), Britain has worked to balance the mix of private and public enterprises in order to maximize the countrys economy and ensure the economic well-being of its citizens. Historically, Britains Conservative Party has sought a stronger private component in the mix while the Labour Party has sought to strengthen the public component. Both parties are committed to a healthy mix of both elements, however. After World War II the government nationalized, or took over, a number of large and troubled industries. These included coal, electricity, transport, gas, oil, steel, certain car and truck manufacturing, shipbuilding, and aircraft building. Since the 1950s, the government has privatized a number of these industries, selling them to private firms. The first sales were the steel and road transportation industries. The Conservative governments between 1979 and 1996 denationalized oil companies, telecommunications, car and truck production, gas, airlines and aircraft building, electricity, water, railways, and nuclear power. By privatizing these industries, the government hoped they would become more efficient, due to pressure by stockholders demanding profits. Nevertheless, the government continues to regulate these newly privatized industries by controlling prices and monitoring performance. The government also seeks to encourage competition in the economy and increase productivity by sponsoring and subsidizing training and educational programs. About 74 percent of Britains land area is devoted to some type of agricultural use. Large parts of Britain, notably Scotland and Wales, are suitable only for grazing. In the mid-1990s, about 72 percent of Britains agricultural land was used for grazing or grassland, or lay fallow, and about 28 percent was used to grow crops. There were about 234,300 farms, two-thirds of them owner-occupied. The average size of a farm in 1996 was 73 hectares (180 acres). More than half of the full-time farms are devoted to livestock farmingraising cattle for dairy products or beef, or raising sheep for wool and meat. These animals contribute about 37 percent of the total value of agricultural output. The treatment of farm animals is a growing concern in Britain. Factory farming of chickens has produced protests in Britain, as has the practice of raising calves in confined spaces. These protests have been particularly strong at ports from which calves are exported to Europe. Concerns over animal welfare have led some British citizens to become vegetarians. Britain was once covered with thick forests, but over the centuries the expanding human population steadily deforested nearly the entire country, felling trees for fuel and building materials. Despite the fact that trees grow quickly in the cool, moist climate of the United Kingdom, only remnants of the great oak forests remained at the end of the 20th century. At one time the fishing industry not only provided a cheap source of protein for Britons, but it was also the training ground for the Royal Navy. Today fishing is a less vital economic activity, although the industry provides about 54 percent of Britains fish supplies and involves both deep-sea fishing and fish farming. Fish and fish products are both imported into and exported from Britain. Substantial amounts of fish oils and fish meals are imported, along with saltwater fish and shellfish. Exports are significantly less than imports. Sea-ports play a great role in the life of the country. London, Liverpool and Glasgow are the biggest English ports, from which big liners go to all parts of the world. GB exports industrial products to other countries and imports food and some other products. Of great importance for Britain is ship-building industry. It is concentrated in London, Liverpool and Belfast. In recent decades over fishing and conservation restrictions imposed by the European Union have caused a decline in the deep-sea industry. Fishing remains an important source of employment in many ports in Scotland and southwestern England. Angling, or sport fishing, is one of the more popular hobbies in Britain. Mining has been enormously important in British economic history. Salt mining dates from prehistoric times, and in ancient times traders from the Mediterranean shipped tin from the mines of Cornwall. These tin mines are almost completely exhausted today, and the last tin mine in Britain closed in March 1998. Britains abundant coal resources were critical during the Industrial Revolution, especially because the coal was sometimes conveniently located near iron and could be used in the iron and steel manufacturing processes. These mined resources were so important to the Industrial Revolution that entire populations moved to work at coal and iron sites in the north and Midlands of England. Today the iron is almost exhausted, and even though most good-quality coal seams are depleted, coal is still the third most mined mineral in Britain. Besides coal, raw materials for construction form the bulk of mineral production, including limestone, dolomite, sand, gravel, sandstone, common clay, and shale. Some china clay and salt are also extracted. Small amounts of zinc, lead, tin, silver, and gold are mined. According to British law, the owners of land have title to the minerals below the surface. The history of manufacturing in Britain is unique because of Britains role as the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution. During the Middle Ages the production of woolen textiles was a key industry in Britain. In the 16th and 17th centuries, new industries developed. These included silk weaving, garment making, and the manufacturing of hats, pottery, and cutlery. All of these operations were generally conducted in small craft shops and were labor-intensive. In the 18th century a number of changes in British society prepared the way for the Industrial Revolution. Colonial and commercial expansion created markets in North America, Africa, and parts of Asia. Coal and iron mining developed as Britains dwindling forests created the need for another energy source, and new smelting techniques made iron implements cheaper to produce. An agricultural revolution in the 18th century introduced new crops and crop rotation techniques, better breeding methods, and mechanical devices for cultivation. This coincided with a rapid increase in population, in part due to better hygiene and diets, providing both consumers and workers for the new manufacturing operations. During the Industrial Revolution new methods of manufacturing products were developed. Instead of being made by hand, many products were made by machine. Production moved from small craft shops to factories, and population shifted to urban areas where these factories were located. Cotton textile factories using newly developed steam-powered machines produced more goods at a lower cost per item. Textiles, shipbuilding, iron, and steel emerged as important industries, and coal remained the most important industrial fuel. The Industrial Revolution dramatically raised the overall standard of living. Scotland is also a major producer of computers. The so-called Silicon Glen between Glasgow and Edinburgh employs about 40,000 people in the electronics industry and is the site of many overseas computer firms. Scotland and Northern Ireland are still noted for their production of whiskey and textiles, especially linen from Northern Ireland and tweed from Scotland. Britain remains an important manufacturing country, although it imports large quantities of manufactured goods from overseas, particularly vehicles and electronic equipment. The leading traditional manufacturing regions of England are Greater London and the cities and regions around Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds, and Newcastle upon Tyne. One sign of a highly developed nation is a large and sophisticated service sector. When a nations economy matures, its service sector grows rapidly while its manufacturing sector stabilizes or diminishes. This was the case with Britain. The service industries include finance, retailing, wholesaling, tourism, business services, transport, insurance, investment, advertising, public relations, market research, education, administration, and government and professional services. Britain developed sophisticated banking, financial, insurance, and shipping operations as early as the 17th century to support its expanding international ocean trade. Lloyds of London, an early insurance house, began when a number of people willing to underwrite, or insure, the success of voyages gathered regularly at Lloyds Coffee House in London to share shipping news. Lloyds now insures approximately half of the worlds shipping and cargoes as well as much of the aircraft industry. Banking and financial services have always played an important part in Londons economy, and levels of specialization and expertise have been high. This has attracted ever-larger amounts of business from an increasingly global economy. London is the worlds leading center for insurance and handles 20 percent of the worlds insurance business. It is also the worlds largest center for foreign exchange, or currency, trading. In the 1980s and 1990s financial institutions and insurance together accounted for 7 percent of Britains annual national income. With only 3.5 percent of employment in financial services, this indicates the high productivity reached in these occupations. Several significant developments in the service sector have taken place since the latter part of the 20th century. Telecommunications has become a dynamic growth industry, particularly with telex, facsimile, and e-mail communications. Independent retailing has declined sharply as large chain stores, called multiples in Britain, have brought the advantages of size to bear on purchasing. In food retailing, for example, five major groups own more than half of the food markets in the nation. In many cases food wholesalers have been eliminated or cut back because large chains contract directly with manufacturers. The leisure industry has also been growing dynamically, commanding an increasing proportion of consumer spending. In the past most Britons took vacations, or holidays, at the seashore, but overseas holidays have become more affordable and thus more common for middle- and working-class people. Another growth area has been organizations catering to international conferences and exhibitions. These organizations have been particularly successful because Britain is one of the worlds top locations for business meetings and shows. Britain has more energy resources than any other country in the European Union, mostly in the form of oil and natural gas. Other energy sources include coal and nuclear power. Scotland has some hydroelectric power stations. Some alternative energy sources, notably wind farms, are being developed in various parts of Britain. In 1996 about 3.5 percent of industrial employees were involved in energy production, and the energy sector accounted for 5 percent of the GDP. Oilwas discovered in the North Sea in 1969. By the 1980s it was adding significantly to the British economy as oil exports increased during a period of high oil prices. British taxpayers also benefited from the taxes and royalties paid by the oil and gas companies, which are licensed by the Crown to search for and produce oil and gas. In 1997 Britain had more than 80 offshore oil fields. The country also owns some onshore wells, but these are far less productive. Gas has been used since the 19th century in London and other places, but it was manufactured from coal. Since the 1960s, when offshore gas fields were discovered, natural gas has been used. In 1996 natural gas accounted for about 25 percent of the fuel consumption in Britain. In 1997 Britain owned 77 offshore fields producing natural gas. In 1996 about 360,000 people worked in the oil and gas industry, both offshore and in related business sectors. Coal was Britains traditional source of energy for about 300 years. It was the main source of fuel during the Industrial Revolution, when it was mined, used, and exported in large quantities. Peak production occurred in 1913, when more than 300 million tons were mined. Coal has become far less important to the British economy. In the past 20 years cutbacks in coal production have been severe, particularly since the end of a bitter miners strike in 1984. In 1947, when coal mining was nationalized, more than 950 coal mines were operating; by 1996 there were 27 deep mines operating, with a labor force of 12,500. Production in 2002 was 30 million tons. In 1996 coal supplied 44 percent of Britains total energy needs. Consumption of coal in 1996 was 79 million tons, more than the country produced, so coal imports were substantial. Several factors led to the closing of many British mines, particularly mines located in Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, and southern Wales. The most lucrative coal seams eventually became exhausted. Cheaper overseas producers, particularly Poland, South Africa, and Australia, made it less costly to import coal than to mine it. Rich supplies of cheaper oil and gas discovered in the North Sea since the 1970s have enabled many industries to switch to these other fuels. Growing concerns about environmental pollution from burning coal have also played a part in decreasing demand.

Control questions:

 

1.What became the most important of England's products in the 16th century?

2. What did other countries buy from Britain in the middle of the 18th century?

3. What exhibition was opened in the Crystal Palace in 1851?

4. What was the aim of the exhibition?

5. Why had Britain become powerful?

6. What industry is mostly developed in GB?


3- Lecture. Theme: Political System.

Plan:1. British Constitution.

2. Three Branches of Government.

3.The British Parliament and the Electoral System.

4. Political parties.

 

The aim of the lecture:To get acquainted with British Constitution and Three Branches of Government; The British Parliament and the Electoral System. Cabinet of Ministers; Political parties.

The content of the lecture:

POLITICAL SYSTEM

TheUnited Kingdom is a parliamentary 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 huge number of countries all over the world ruled by Britain. The process of decolonization 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.

 

BRITISH CONSTITUTION

Practically saying there is no written constitution in GB. The term English Constitution means the leading principles, conventions and laws, many of which have been existing for centuries, though they have undergone modifications and extensions in agreement with the advance of civilization. These principles are expressed in such documents of major importance as Magna Carta, a famous document in English history agreed upon in 1215 by King John and the barons, which set certain limits on royal power and which was later regarded as a law stating basic civil rights; Habeas Corpus Act,a law passed in 1679, which guarantees to a person arrested the right to appear in court of justice so that the jury should decide whether he is guilty or not guilty; The Bill of Rights, an act of Parlament passed in 1689, which confirmed certain rights of the people ; the law deciding the succession of the royal family, and a number of constitutional acts, separate laws and agreements.

THREE BRANCHES OF GOVERNMENT

Power in GB is divided among three branches: the legislative branch, the executive branch and the judicial branch. The legislative branch is represented by Parliament, which consists of two chambers, or houses; the House of Lords and the House of Commons

h House of Lords.The other House of Parliament is the House of Lords. The House of Lords has more than 1,000 members, although only about 250 take an active part in the work of the House. This House consists of those lords who sit by right of inheritance and those men and women who have been given life peerages which end with the life of their possessors. Members of this Upper House are not elected. They sit there because of their rank. The chairman of the House of Lords is the Lord Chancellor and he sits on a special seat called the Woolsack.

The members of the House of Lords debate a bill after it has been passed by the House of Commons. Changes may be recommended, and agreement between the two Houses is reached by negotiations. The Lords' main power consists of being able to delay non-financial bills for a period of a year, but they can also introduce certain types of bill. The House of Lords is the only non-elected second chamber in the parliaments of the world, and some people in Britain would like to abolish it.

The division of Parliament into two Houses goes back over some 700 years when a feudal assembly assisted the King. In modern times, real political power rests with the elected House although members of the House of Lords may occupy important cabinet posts.

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 Speaker, a member acceptable to the whole House, MPs sit on two sides of the hall, one side for the governing party and other for the opposition. The first two rows of seats occupied by the leading members of both parties (called 'front-benchers), the back-benchers belong to the rank-and-file MPs ('back-benchers'). Each session of the House of Commons lasts for 160175 days. Parliament has intervals during its work. MPs are paid for their parliamentary work and have to attend the sittings. MPs have to catch 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 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 lled 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 us. 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 - the Law of the Land.

The executive branch is headed by the Prime Minister, who is appointed by the king (queen). According to tradition, the Prime Minister is the leader of the party that won the elections and has the majority in the House of Commons. The Prime Minister appoints the ministers to compose the government. After that the newly appointed ministers are presented to the monarch for the formal approval. The most important ministers of the government form the Cabinet. Members of the Cabinet make joint decisions or advise the Prime Minister.

The main function of the executive branch of the government is to administer the laws (to see to it that the laws are carried out).

The judicial branchinterprets the laws. The highest judicial bode is the Supreme Court of Judicature, which consists of two divisions: the High Court of Justice and the Court of Appeal. It is often said that English law is superior to the law of most other countries. Indeed, the English judicial system contains many rules which protect the individual against arbitrary action by the police and the government.

 

THE BRITISH PARLIAMENT AND THE ELECTORAL SYSTEM

TheBritish Paliament consists of the House of Lords and the House of Commons and the Queen as its head.

The House of Commons play the major role in lawmaking. It consists of Members of Parliament (called MPs for short), each.of whom represents an area in Ensland, 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 fîve years, but the Prime Minister can decide on the exact date within those fîve years. The minimum voting age is 18, and the voting is taken by secret ballot.

The election campaignlasts aboutthree weeks.The election is decided on a simple majority - thecandidate 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 unsuccessuful 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.

 

POLITICAL PARTIES

Political parties first emerged in Britain at the end of the 17th century. The Conservative and Liberal Parties are the oldest and until the end of the 19th century they were the only parties elected to the House of Commons. The main British political groupings are the Conservative and Labour Parties and the Party of Liberal Democrats. The Conservative Party is the present ruling party, the Labour Party the opposition to the Conservative - and the party of Liberal Democrats is called 'conservatively oriented. The Social Democratic Party was formed in 1981 and made an alliance with the Liberal Party in 1988.

There are also some other parties: the Scottish National and Welsh Nationalist Parties, the Communist Party of Britain,

Because of the electoral method in use, only two major parties obtain seats in the House of Commons. People belonging to smaller political parties join one of the larger parties and work from within to make their influence felt. The exception to this are members of the Scottish National and Welsh Nationalist Parties, who, because their votes are concentrated in specific geographical areas, can manage win seats although their total support is relatively small.

The Conservative Party. The Conservative Party, often .called the Tory Party, one of those which can trace its roots back to this period. Today the Tory Party is that of big business, industry, commerce and landowners. Most of the money needed to run the party comes from large firms and companies. The party represents those who believe in private enterprise as opposed to state-owned undertakings. There is some division within the party itself: the more aristocratic wing and the lower-middle-class group. The Tories are mixture of the rich and privileged-the monopolists and landowners. Conservative Party is the most powerful and is often called a party of business directors.

The word tory means an Irish highwayman and was applied to the conservatives by their opponents but later adopted the name to describe themselves. The Tories opposed the ideas of the French Revolution, Parliamentary Reform and the development of Trade Unionism. They represent colonial policy. In home policy they opposed the tendencies of the Labour Party to nationalize gas, electricity, coal and railways. Today the Conservative Party can broadly be described as the party of the middle and upper classes.

The Liberal Party and the Labour Party. The Conservative Party and the Liberal Party are more than three hundred years ld. The Tories called the Liberals 'Whigs'. A Whig was a Scottish preacher who could go on for 4 or 5 hours at a time preaching moralizing sermons. In the middle of the 19th century the Liberal Party represented the trading and manufacturing classes. Its slogan at that time was 'Civil and Religious Liberty. William Gladstone headed the first administration (186874) and for long periods the Liberals had a Parliamentary majority. During the second half of the 19th century many working people looked at the Liberal Party as an alternative to the Conservatives and their policy.

At the end of the 19th century and in the first two decades of this; the Liberals lost the support of working-class voters. In 1988 the Liberal Party made an alliance with Social Democrats and the Party of Liberal Democrats was formed.

The Labour Party, formed in 1900, was the one which drew away working people's support. It was founded by the Trades Unions. When the Labour Government was first elected in 1945 it showed a considerable change in policy from the Tories.

Since 1924 the Labour Party has been in and out of power four times with the Conservatives forming the government for the rest of the time. The social system has remained unchanged. As a result of divisions within the Labour Party its right-wing members broke away in 1981 to form a new organization, the Social Democratic Party. The later fought the 1983 election in an alliance with the Liberals, but only a small number of their M Ps were elected. They would like to change the electoral system because they think the present system unfair.

 

Control questions:

1 Is there a written constitution in GB? What does the term English Constitution mean?

2 Which are the three branches of state power in the UK?

3 How are the members of the House of Lords and the House of Commons elected?

4 Which are the two main political parties in GB?









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