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The British constitution is not written down in any single document, and therefore it is described as ‘unwritten’.
During the 18th century, new ideas about politics, science and philosophy developed. This period became known as ‘the Enlightenment’.
A civil war known as the Wars of the Roses broke out in 1455 between supporters of the House of Lancaster and the House of York. It ended in 1485 at the Battle of Bosworth, when King Richard III of the House of York was killed.
Thomas Gainsborough (1727–88) and Sir John Lavery (1856–1941) were British portrait painters.
Henry Purcell wrote church music, opera and other pieces, and developed a distinctive British style. Ralph Vaughan Williams was strongly influenced by traditional English folk music.
In a Crown Court the jury listens to the evidence presented at the trial and then decides on a verdict of ‘guilty’ or ‘not guilty’. If the jury finds a defendant guilty, the judge decides on the sentence.
A traditional food in Scotland is haggis, which is a sheep’s stomach stuffed with offal, suet, onions and oatmeal. Welsh cakes are a traditional Welsh snack made from flour, dried fruits and spices.
People vote in elections at polling stations (polling places in Scotland). If it is difficult for you to get to a polling station or polling place, you can register for a postal ballot.
The Welsh Assembly has the power to make laws for Wales in many areas, including economic development, health and social services, housing and education. Defence and foreign affairs remain under central UK government control.
The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, both formed in the 1960s, continue to have an influence on music in the UK and abroad.
In the 17th century, Inigo Jones took inspiration from classical architecture to design the Queen’s House at Greenwich and the Banqueting House in Whitehall in London.
The monarch is head of state in the UK The current monarch is Queen Elizabeth II.
David Weir is a Paralympian who uses a wheelchair, and has won six gold medals over two Paralympic Games. Bobby Moore captained the English football team that won the World Cup in 1966.
Civil servants in the UK are politically neutral, and are not political appointees.
Anyone who does not pay enough National Insurance Contributions will not be able to receive certain contributory benefits, such as Jobseeker’s Allowance or a full state retirement pension.
William Shakespeare (1564–1616) wrote many famous plays and poems. Many of his works are still performed today.
The UK is divided into parliamentary constituencies. Voters in each constituency elect their member of Parliament (MP) in a General Election.
If your car is over three years old, you must take it for a Ministry of Transport (MOT) test every year. (If your car is new, it will need an MOT test after three years, and then every year.)
The second-largest party in the House of Commons is usually called the opposition.
If one party does not get a majority vote at a General Election, two or more parties can join together to form a coalition.
In the UK there is a set of shared values and responsibilities that everyone can agree with. These include voting in local and national elections, and treating everyone equally.
School governors, or members of the school board in Scotland, are people from the local community who wish to make a positive contribution to children’s education.
There are laws to ensure that people are not treated unfairly in any area of work or life because of their disability, marital status, age, pregnancy and maternity, sex, race, religion or belief, or sexuality.
1 January is New Year’s Day and 26 December is Boxing Day. Both are public holidays, which means shops and businesses usually close for the day.
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