The House of Commons is the elected body of representatives. The Members of Parliament
(MPs) are divided on party lines. Normally the largest party forms the government. There is also the House of Lords which is
only partly elected. Proposed laws (known as 'bills') have to be passed three times to become
law and are then passed to the Queen for her assent.
Many critics have pointed out the unrepresentative nature of MPs. They are overwhelmingly male, white and middle class.
It is therefore possible for them truly to reflect the will of the people?
|The Civil Service
The civil service is the bureaurocracy that runs the State on behalf of the government. In total there are over 700 000 civil
servants. Whereas ministers (secretaries) rarely stay in one ministry (government department)
for more than two years, civil servants spend their whole careers there. Often civil servants manipulate ministers into taking
the decisions that they want them to.
A second point of concern is that top civil servants come largely from a very exclusive social background.
In 1984, for example, over half of all recruits to the top jobs in the civil service came from
public schools, which are the type of school attended mainly by the British upper class.
|The Police and the Judiciary
There are almost 200,000 full-time police officers in Britain, concentrated mainly in large cities.
The judiciary, composed of judges and magistrates (who judge lesser offences), have the role of interpreting and fairly
applying the law passed by Parliament. It should be noted that judges too are drawn from a very restricted social class background,
just like senior civil servants and generally attended public schools.