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State Power Institutions in Ukraine: The Verhovna Rada (Parliament) of Ukraine
The only legislative body of Ukraine is the Parliament – the Verhovna Rada of Ukraine. People’s deputies of Ukraine are elected by the citizens of Ukraine on the basis of equal and direct universal suffrage through secret vote. The election system is proportional.
Altogether 450 deputies are elected proportionally at multi-mandate national constituency from the lists of candidates coming from political parties and their election blocks.
The powers of people’s deputies of Ukraine are established by the Constitution and laws of Ukraine. People’s deputies of Ukraine may voluntarily unite themselves into the deputies’ groups (factions) of no less than 25 members. Deputies’ groups are formed both at party and non-party basis. Deputies’ groups formed at party basis are called “factions”. Non-party deputies may join a faction if they support the program of a relevant party. Deputies’ groups formed at the non-party basis unite deputies who share the same or similar views of national, social and economic development.
Parliament is the legislative organ and is constitutionally composed of the Monarch, the House of Lords, and the House of Commons.
The House of Lords currently has around 730 members, and there are four different types: life peers, Law Lords, bishops and elected hereditary peers. Unlike MPs, the public do not elect the Lords. The majority are appointed by the Queen on the recommendation of the Prime Minister or of the House of Lords Appointments Commission.
Life peers appointed for their lifetime make up the majority of the total membership. The power to appoint belongs formally to the Crown, but members are essentially created on the advice of the Prime Minister. Life peers’ titles cease on death. Law Lords were the first life peers. The Appellate Jurisdiction Act 1876 provides for up to 12 Law Lords to be appointed to hear appeals from the lower courts. They are salaried and can continue to hear appeals until they are 70 years old. After they retire they go on sitting in the House. Archbishops and bishops. The Anglican Archbishops of Canterbury and York, the Bishops of Durham [´darəm], London and Winchester and the 21 senior bishops of the Church of England have seats in the House. This is because the Church of England is the “established” Church of the State. When they retire as bishops their membership of the House ceases. Elected hereditary peers. The House of Lords Act 1999 ended the right of hereditary peers to sit and vote in the House of Lords. Until then there had been about 700 hereditary members. While the Bill was being considered, an amendment was passed which enable 92 of the existing hereditary peers to remain as members until the next stage of reform.
The House of Lords has a judicial function in addition to its legislative and deliberative functions. The House is the highest court in the land – the supreme court of appeal. It acts as the final court on points of law for the whole of the United Kingdom in civil cases and for England, Wales and Northern Ireland in criminal cases. Its decisions bind all courts below.
This is an unusual role for a legislative body that is part of Parliament. In most other democracies, the judiciary is separate from the legislature – usually in the form of a supreme court of appeal. For this reason the Government has legislated to establish a United Kingdom Supreme Court that will be constitutionally and physically separate from Parliament. Until October 2008, when the new UK Supreme Court is expected to come into operation, the present system will continue. The reasons for the present set-up are historical – the House of Lords has done this work for more than 600 years as part of the High Court of Parliament. Although the House of Commons was originally part of the High Court of Parliament, it has not been involved in judicial work since 1399. Today only highly qualified professional judges appointed to be law lords take part in the judicial function of the House.
The House of Commons is an elected and representative body; members (at present 650) are elected by almost universal adult suffrage to represent constituencies in England (523), Scotland (72), Wales (38) and Northern Ireland (17). The law relating to Parliamentary elections is contained in substance in the Representation of the People Act, 1949, as amended. Any British subject aged 21 or over, not otherwise disqualified (as for example, members of the House of Lords, certain clergy, undercharged bankrupts, civil servants, holders of judicial office, members of the regular armed services and the police forces) may be elected a Member of Parliament (M.P). Members are paid a salary and an allowance for secretarial and office expenses; after a Parliament is dissolved all seats are subject to a General Election. By elections take place when a vacancy occurs during the life of a Parliament, as when a member dies, is elevated to the House of Lords or accepts an “office of profit” under the Crown.
The Speaker of the House of Commons is elected by the members from the members to preside over the House immediately after each new Parliament is formed. He is an impartial arbiter over Parliamentary procedure and the traditional guardian of the rights and privileges of the House of Commons.
The functions of Parliament are: making laws; providing money for the government through taxation; examining government policy, administration and spending; debating political questions.
No law can be passed unless it has completed a number of stages in the House of Commons and the House of Lords. The Monarch also has to give a Bill the Royal Assent, which is now just a formality. Whilst a law is still going through Parliament it is called a Bill There are two main types of Bills – Public Bills, which deal with matters of public importance, and Private Bills which deal with local matters and individuals. Public and Private Bills are passed through Parliament in much the same way. When a Bill is introduced in the House of Commons, it receives a formal first reading. It is then printed and read a second time, when it is debated but not amended. After the second reading the Bill is referred to a committee, either a special committee made up of certain members of the House, or to the House itself as a committee. Here it is discussed in detailed and amended if necessary. The Bill is then presented for a third reading and is debated. If the Bill is passed by the Commons, it goes to the Lords, and provided it is not rejected by them, it goes through the same procedure as in the Commons. After receiving the Royal Assent the Bill becomes an Act of Parliament. In order to be enforced, it must be published in Statute form, becoming a part of Statute Law. The power of the Lords to reject a Bill has been severely curtailed. A money Bill must be passed by the Lords without amendment within a month of being presented in the House. The Act of 1949 provides that any Public Bill passed by the Commons in two successive parliamentary sessions and rejected both times by the Lords, may be presented for the Royal Assent, even though it has not been passed by the Lords. The Lords, therefore, can only delay the passage of a Public Bill, they cannot reject it.
The supremacy, or sovereignty, of the United Kingdom Parliament is probably the most basic principle of British constitutional law. Parliament acts in such a way as not to bind its successors in the manner or form of their legislation, and, in the Parliament Acts of 1911 and 1949 has provided that in certain circumstances a Bill may become law without the concurrence of all the component parts of Parliament. These two acts have clarified the supremacy of the House of Commons over the House of Lords, which can only delay the passage of Public Bills for a maximum period of one year and cannot delay at all the passage of Money Bills (financial measures).
THE LEGISLATIVE BRANCH(USA)
Supreme legislative power in the American government lies with Congress, which consists of two chambers or houses – the Senate (the upper house) and the House of Representatives (the lower house). Each state has its own government, following the Washingtonpattern– State Assemblies or Legislatures with two chambers.
Congress of the United States is the legislature of the United States of America established under the Constitution of 1789 and separated structurally from the executive and judicial branches of government.
Congress has no general legislative power such as is enjoyed by the British Parliament, and to a lesser degree by the legislatures of the American states; it has only such functions and authority as are expressly conferred on it by the Constitution or are impliedin the Constitution. Many of the express powers are defined in Article 1, Section 8. Among these are the power ‘to levy and collect taxes’, ‘borrow money on the credit of the United States’, ‘regulate commerce with foreign nations and among several states’, ‘coin money’, ‘establish post offices’, ‘declare war’, ‘raise and support armies’, and ‘make all laws’ necessary for the execution of its own powers and ‘all other powers vestedby this Constitution in the government of the United States’. This Section also empowersCongress to administer the District of Columbia, which containsseat of the federal government. Other express powers are conferred on Congress in other articles of the Constitution. Among the implied powers of Congress is the right to establish legislative machinery to give effect to its express powers.
The Senate is one of the two houses of the legislature of the United States established in 1789 under the Constitution. The role of the Senate was conceived by the Founding Fathers as a check on the popularly elected House of Representatives. The US Senate has some special powers, not given to the House of Representatives. The Senate approves or disapproves major Presidential appointments of such high officials asambassadors, Cabinet ministers and federal judges. The Senate must also ratify, by a two-third vote, treaties between the USA and foreign countries.
The House of Representatives has a special power of its own. Only a member of the House can introduce a bill to raisemoney, but it must also be passed by the Senate before it can become a law.
The Senate is composed of 100 members, two from each of 50 states, who are elected for a term of six years. Although Congressional elections take place every two years, only one-third of the Senate is re-elected, thereby ensuring continuity.
The Constitution says that a Senator must be at least 30 years old, a citizen of the USA for nine years and a resident of the state from which he is elected. The individual seats in the Senate are numbered. Democrats sit in the Western part of the chamber – on Vice President’s right. Republicans sit on his left. Vice President presidesover the Senate and conducts debates. The Senate is more stable and more conservative than the House of Representatives, as many Senators are re-elected several times and often they are more experienced politicians.
The House of Representatives has 435 members. The number of Representatives which each state sends to the House depends on its population. The Constitution says that each state, no matter how small it is in population, must have at least one Representative.
A Representative must be at least 25 years of age, a US citizen for seven years and live in the state from which he is elected. Congressmen of the House do not have individual seats, by tradition Democrats sit on the Speaker’s right, Republicans – on his left. The Speaker presides over the House and conducts debates. The Speaker, like the Vice-President in the Senate, may vote, but usually he does not do it, except in case of a tie-vote.
Votes are taken in American Congress in four different ways. Usually the Speaker or the Vice-President says, ‘As many as are in favour say ‘Aye’!’ and then, ‘As many as are opposed say ‘No’!’ In most case it is enough. But if there is a doubt those in favour are asked to stand up and they are counted. The Speaker or the Vice President does the counting in his chamber and announces the result. If there is still doubt, two tellers are appointed. The fourth way is the roll-call, where the names of all Congressmen are called out and they answer ‘Aye’ or ‘No’.
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