The Great Council is know to be the prototype of the current British Parliament. In 1265, Simon de Montfort summoned the Great Council, together with two knights from each country and two citizens from each town. It later developed into the House of Lords and the House of Commons. Its main role was to offer advice. There were no elections or parties. And the most important part of Parliament was the House of Lords.
1. The United Kingdom is a unitary, not a federal state. Parliament consists of the Sovereign, the House of Lords and the House of Commons.
2. The House of Lords is made up of the Lords Spiritual and the Lords Temporal. The main function of the House of Lords is to bring the wide experience of its members into the process of lawmaking. In other words, the non elected House is to act as a chamber of revision, complementing but not rivaling the elected House.
3. The House of Commons is elected by universal adult suffrage and consists of 651 Members of Parliament (MPs). It is in the House of Commons that the ultimate authority lies.
4. Britain has a number of parties, but there are only two major parties. These two parties are the Conservative Party and the Labour Party. Since 1945, either the Conservative Party or the Labour Party has held power. The party which wins sufficient seats at a General Election commands a majority of Government.
The leader of the majority party is appointed Prime Minister. The party which wins the second largest number of seats becomes the Official Opposition, with its own leader and “shadow cabinet”. The rule of Opposition is to help the formulation of policy, criticize the Government and debate with the Government.