Parliament of Great Britain

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is a constitutional monarchy. The Parliament consists of two chambers. The House of Commons having 630 members and the House of Lords with approximately 800 peers.

That party which obtains the majority of seats in the House is called the Government, and the others - the Opposition. The Prime Minister is usually the leader of the party that has a majority in the House of Commons. All the affairs of the state are conducted in the name of the Queen, but it is the Prime Minister who is the ruler of the country, presiding over the meetings of the Cabinet, which are always secret. The Cabinet consists of the Prime Minister and ministers. Any M.P. (member of the Parliament) may introduce a bill to the Parliament. Every bill has three readings at first in the House of Commons.

There is no debate allowed after the first reading. After the second reading there may be a discussion. The speaker calls upon different members who are eager to speak. After the discussion the voting is done. After the third reading the bill goes before the House of Lords. If the Lords agree to the bill, it will be placed before the Queen for signature. The Queen having signed it, it becomes an Act of Parliament.

There are main political parties in Great Britain: the Conservative, the Liberal and the Labour.

The building of the Houses of Parliament which is in the Gothic style is not old; it was built in the middle of the last century instead of ancient Houses of Parliament (destroyed by fire). The House of Commons was terribly bombed in the last World War, it was rebuilt only in 1950, so it is quite new. But there is Westminster Hall at the far end of the building which was not destroyed either by fire or by nazi bombs. These ancient stones, if they could speak, would tell you how the barons were assembled here and how king Charles 1 was tried. They would also tell you about Oliver Cromwell who was installed here as Lord Protector. It has been the scene of many bitter struggles for the people’s rights and still is.


affairs - дела

to conduct - проводить

to preside (over) - председательствовать; осуществлять

контроль, руководство

to introduce - вносить на рассмотрение

to call - называть; вызывать

voting - голосование

the bill goes before - законопроект представляется

to sign - подписывать

act - закон

the Conservative, the Liberal, the Labour parties - Консервативная, Либеральная, Лейбористская партии

King Charles 1 - Король Карл 1 - Стюарт, казненный в 1649 г.

Oliver Cromwell - Оливер Кромвель (1623-1658), вождь английской буржуазной революции XVII века

Lord Protector - Лорд Покровитель - титул О. Кромвеля

to destroy - разрушать

to try - подвергать пыткам, судить

to install - официально вводить в должность

Exercise 1. Answer the questions:

1. The UK is a constitutional monarchy. What does it mean?

2. How many chambers does the British Parliament consists of? What are they?

3. What are the main political parties in Great Britain?

4. Who is the Prime Minister of Great Britain?

5. Which political party does he represent?

6. What is the name of the Queen of Great Britain?

7. What stages does a bill introduced to the Parliament pass?

8. When does a bill become an Act of Parliament?

Text 4


London is one of the largest and most interesting cities in the world.

London today stretches for nearly thirty miles from north to south and for nearly thirty miles from east to west. This is the area known as «Greater London», with a population of nine million. The River Thames winds its way through London and divides it into the two parts known as the north bank and the south bank. Fifteen bridges span it, perhaps the best known being Westminster, Waterloo, Tower and London bridges.

Traditionally London is divided into Westminster, the West End and the East End. They are very different from each other.

The heart of London is the City - its commercial and business centre.

The City of London is a very small part of the whole; it is only one square mile in area, and the number of people who live and sleep in the City is only about ten thousand. Numerous banks, offices and firms are concentrated here, including the Bank of England, the Stock Exchange and the Old Bailey, where important criminal trials take place. Visitors who come to learn about London’s history will find much to interest them in the City. Here most of the streets are narrow, and traffic is often very


The most striking building in the City is St. Paul’s Cathedral designed by famous English architect, Sir Christopher Wren (1632-1723). St. Paul’s Cathedral with its huge dome and rows of columns is considered to be a fine specimen of Renaissance architecture. In one of its towers hangs one of the largest bells in the world, Great Paul, weighing about 17.5 tons. Wellington, Nelson and other great men of England are buried in the Cathedral.

Round St. Paul’s is the original London, the oldest part, with a history of almost two thousand years. Westminster, with its Palace and Abbey, is six hundred years younger. The ancient City of London has always governed itself and has not shared in the government of the rest of London. The City has its own Lord Mayor and its own Corporation. Ever since 1215 the Lord Mayor has been chosen annually. He begins his duties on 8 November, and in the following day there is procession which is known as the Lord Mayor’s Show.

The Tower of London doesn’t belong to the City, though it stood there for almost nine hundred years. It is more connected with the royal dynasties, than with the world of business. The Tower was founded by Julius Caesar and in 1066 rebuilt by William the Conqueror. It was used as a fortress, a royal residence and a prison. Now it is a museum of armour and also a place where the Crown Jewels are kept. In present days, just as many centuries ago, the Ceremony of the Keys takes place at its gates every night.

As, during the Middle Ages, London increased in size and wealth, the old City and the area round the Royal Palace at Westminster became the two chief centres. The nobles, bishops, judges, and others who were connected with the Court, lived in or near Westminster. This explain how the part of London that we now call the West End came into being. And because Henry VIII was fond of hunting we have, today, three parks that form a continuous stretch of green: St James’s Park, the Green Park, and Hyde Park.

The Court moved to St. James’s in the eighteenth century and to Buckingham Palace in the nineteenth century. Both of these are in the City of Westminster. Here, and farther west, are the finest theatres, cinemas and concert halls, the large museums, the most luxurious hotels, the largest department stores and the most famous shops. The name «West End» came to be associated with wealth, luxury, and goods of high quality.

Not far from Westminster where most of the Government buildings are situated is Westminster Abbey, at which all British Kings and queens have been crowned. It dates back to 1049. Many English sovereigns, outstanding statesmen, painters and poets are buried here.

Across the road from Westminster Abbey is Westminster Palace, the seat of the British Parliament. Its two graceful towers stand high above the city. The higher of the two largest clock in the country and the famous bell Big Ben that strikes every quarter of the hour.

The Queen lives in Buckingham Palace for much of the year, but there are other royal palaces in London.

Trafalgar Square is the geographical centre of London. It was so

named in memory of the victory in the battle of Trafalgar, where in October 21, 1805 the English fleet under Nelson’s command defeated the combined fleet of France and Spain. The victory was won at the cost of Nelson’s life. In the middle of Trafalgar Square stands Nelson’s monument. The column is guarded by four bronze lions.

The fine building facing the square is the National Gallery and adjoining it (but just round the corner) is the Portrait Gallery.

The East End is the part of London east of the City. The East End is unattractive in appearance, but very important to the country’s commerce.

On the river there are ocean -going ships and lines of barges pulled along by tugs. Ships up to 6000 tons can come as far as London Bridge. The Port of London, of which the docks form a part, has 69 miles of waterways and is one of the two of three greatest ports in the world.

Greater London, with its million population includes the outer suburbs.

Because London has grown so large, the Government has decided that it must spread no farther. It is now surrounded by a «green belt», a belt of agricultural and wooded land on which new buildings may be put up only with the permission of the planning authorities.


to span - соeдинять

the Bank of England - Английский банк

the Stock Exchange - Лондонская фондовая биржа

the Old Bailey - центральный уголовный суд, находящийся в Олд-Берли

The Duke of Wellington - известный Британский генерал, чья армия разбила Наполеона в сражении при Ватерлоо в 1815

Nelson - английский адмирал, который выиграл сражение при Трафальгаре

Corporation - Совет, состоящий из группы людей, выбранных для управления городом

Court - Двор (приближенные короля или королевы)

bishop - епископ

graceful - грациозный

to adjoin - примыкать

tug - буксирный пароход

wooded land - зеленая зона; территория, где растут деревья

Exercise1. Answer the questions:

1. What is the territory and population of Greater London?

2. How many bridges are there in London?

3. What parts is London divided into?

4. What are different parts of London famous for?

5. What do you know about the City?

6. Who was St Paul’s Cathedral built by?

7. What was the Tower of London used for?

8. Who founded the Tower and when was it rebuilt?

9. What is the historic, the governmental part of London?

10. What building has more historic associations than any other building in London?

11. What is the royal residence in London?

12. Can you describe Trafalgar Square?


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