Civics: Separation of Powers

This term our assemblies will focus on Civics – the customs and structures that provide the fabric of our national life.

Our starting point must be to understand the difference between the executive, the legislature and the judiciary. Most, but not all countries, have at leastĀ some of this separation. In the US the executive (President) is evidently separate from the legislature. Yet most states elect the judiciary as well, which complicates matters.

In the UK the executive (Prime Minister and Cabinet) is a sub section of the legislature, which is parliament (partly elected, the House of Commons and partly not, the House of Lords). The judiciary are independently appointed, not elected, and stand aside from the political process.

Before 2005 the role of Lord Chancellor blurred these separations: the role was political and judicial. FromĀ 2005 that separation has been made complete, leaving only the Queen to combine all these strands – the Prime Minister goes to the Queen to form a Government; the Queen opens parliament and the Queen appoints judges. The three strands all work to form the nature of our civic life.

Especially there is a clear separation between the legislature that makes laws and the judiciary who judge them. Those two aspects of civic life will be covered in our next two assemblies.