The Parliament of the United Kingdom

Today I flew to Madrid, Spain, where I will am resuming my exploration summer. After spending the week in Madrid, the capital and political center of the country, I will travel to Barcelona where I will spend the final portion of my exploration summer. As I said earlier, there are still a number of topics I wish to address from my time in the United Kingdom, and today I will briefly talk about my time in London visiting the Parliament of the United Kingdom.

The Parliament is a bicameral legislature made up of three parts (no, that’s not a mistake): the House of Commons, the House of Lords, and the Monarch. The monarch must provide royal assent to any bill passed by the other two bodies, but this is primarily a ceremonial power. I visited both the House of Commons and the House of Lords during my short stop in London. A number of the locals I met in Scotland had strong opinions about the Parliament at Westminster, so I thought it would be helpful to see it for myself. Unfortunately, the business on the schedule the day I visited was unrelated to Brexit or any other issues which might pertain to Scottish independence. Instead debates were focused on the humanitarian crisis in Sudan and government benefits for caretakers in the United Kingdom.

The House of Commons is an elected body, chosen through a general election usually every 5 years. The leader of the political party with the largest number of elected members becomes the Prime Minister and resides at 10 Downing Street. The House of Lords, on the other hand, is made up of unelected officials, often appointed due to their expertise or hereditary standing. Many members of the House of Lords specialize in individual policy matters such as national defense or healthcare.

I stopped by 10 Downing Street to get a view of the PM’s residence.

Back in Scotland, the Parliament of the United Kingdom has been both a source of dissatisfaction and a potential area for compromise. A number of Conservative leaders (remember, they are against Scottish independence) have suggested the need for restructuring the Parliament at Westminster to better serve a Scotland remaining in the United Kingdom. One Conservative Member of Scottish Parliament, Murdo Fraser, outlined his idea of a quasi-federalist United Kingdom that could appease Scotland and restore functionality to the Parliament of the UK. His four primary goals include drafting a new charter of union, replacing the House of Lords with an elected body based on geographic representation, creating a new UK Council of Ministers, and forming a new legislative body for England, separate from the UK government (similar to the Scottish Parliament). You can read more about it here. I find his proposal to be quite compelling, and I think some variation of the plan will be pursued in an effort to keep Scotland in the United Kingdom should Brexit occur.


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