The news is confusing at the best of times. But it’s our responsibility to get our heads around what we can, and stop the dodgy politicians from trying to get away with just about anything. Our UK politics glossary covers some of the most common jargon, to help you navigate the news a bit more easily.
Parliament is made up of the House of Commons, the House of Lords, and the monarchy. Its function is to check and challenge the work of the Government, make and change laws, debate issues of the day, and check and approve Government spending.
House of Commons
650 Members of Parliament (MPs) elected by the UK public make up the Commons. They represent the public’s interests and concerns, scrutinise government policies and propose new laws. Or at least – they’re supposed to.
House of Lords
The unelected chamber of the house. Also known as the second chamber or upper house. There are currently around 800 members, called ‘peers’. The House of Lords debates legislation and can amend or reject Bills. Their ability to reject a Bill, however, is severely restricted.
Bills and Acts
A proposed law which is introduced into Parliament is called a Bill. Once it has been debated, approved by each House, and received Royal Assent, it becomes law and is known as an Act. For example, the Public Order Act, which has a Punching Up explainer of its own.
The part of London where the parliament buildings are.
A group of voters in a particular area. Each constituency is responsible for electing one MP at general elections, who then represents them in Parliament.
A branch of the state, made up of of non-political Government officials who act to implement the policies and law established by the Government.
The government collects money from workers and companies so that it can make payments to people who are unemployed, ill, or too old to work. It helps fund the NHS and makes you eligible for pensions and benefits.
The 1922 Committee
The 1922 Committee, also known as “the 22”, is a committee of all backbench Conservative MPs. It meets weekly when the Commons is sitting. Its chair, usually a senior MP, is elected by committee members and has considerable influence within the Party. They run the admin side of the Party, but you’ve probably only heard of them from when MPs hand in votes of no-confidence in their leader – like they did with Boris Johnson.
Select Committees work in both Houses. They check and report on various areas such as overseeing work in government departments. The results of their inquiries are public and often require a response from the government. For example, the ‘Common’s Select Committee of Privileges’ is the group dealing with Partygate and the ongoing inquiry into Boris Johnson.
Commercial broadcasting is primarily based on the practice of airing radio advertisements and television advertisements for profit. Think ITV and channel 4 (and, God forbid, GB News).
Public service broadcasters
Think BBC. It receives government subsidies and does not have paid advertising interrupting the show. We pay for our TV licenses, we get it for free. Both public service and commercial broadcasters are required to be politically neutral in their reporting.
Is the UK politics glossary missing anything? Let us know any terms you’re still unsure of below