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Part II. The Cabinet is the most powerful and strongly rooted organ of government in Britain



The Cabinet meets in private and its proceedings are strictly secret. Its members are bound by their oath not to disclose information about its proceedings. Publication of the Cabinet or State papers is forbidden (only after 30 years of being in existence they may be available for inspection or publication). The Cabinet meets for a few hours once or twice a week during parliamentary sittings and less frequently when parliament has vocations. Much of the work of the Cabinet is done through committees which are the "engine-room" of government. Government secrecy is widely discussed and criticized. While in opposition, Conservative and Labour MPs have called for more open government but almost without exception they have all maintained secrecy when in power.

The Cabinet is constitutionally responsible to Parliament and can be forced to resign but in practice it is the Cabinet that dominates Parliament. Its ministers are front-benchers in Parliament. The final decision on all the questions of policy rests with the Cabinet. Every matter of first class importance goes before the Cabinet for final decision or approval.

According to constitution, power should rest where the public can see it, but in practice Britain is governed by the Cabinet, by a largely hidden system named "elective dictatorship". Even legislation, the overriding function of Parliament, is done by the Government and its supporters, because any Government enjoys a majority in the House.

There is a tendency to develop an Inner Cabinet, consisting of the Prime Minister and three or four senior ministers in whom he has exceptional confidence, for the daily work and conduct of the most important business.

The party out of power elects by secret ballot its Leader, Deputy Leader, Chief Whip and 12 members who together form the Shadow Cabinet. Its aim is to watch closely and criticize the Government and if possible to replace the party in power.

The seat of the Government is Whitehall, its center being Downing Street 10, a short walk from Parliament. Ministers' salaries are from 86,173 to 95,281; the Cabinet ministers' – 130,347; the Prime Minister’s – 178,922 pounds (2003).

Task 5. Find in the text the English equivalents for the following words and word combinations: руководить делами, осуществлять надзор над чем-либо, конфиденциально, быть связанным клятвой, раскрывать информацию, быть запрещенным, заседание парламента, требовать, без исключения, вопрос первостепенной важности, поддерживать секретность, окончательное решение, сторонник, исключительное доверие, избирать тайным голосованием, теневой кабинет, партия у власти.

Task 6. Form adjectives from the following nouns with the help of the suffix -al and translate them: department, tradition, exception, constitution, critic, logic.

Task 7. Answer the questions:

1. What are the powers of the Cabinet?

2. How does the Cabinet work?

3. Is Britain governed by the Cabinet or Parliament in practice?

4. What is an Inner Cabinet?

5. What is the Cabinet opposed by?

6. Where is the seat of the Government?

UNIT 5


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