Britain has one of the oldest governments in the world. The Government is made up of the Prime minister, cabinet, ministers and civil service.
“Parliament is separate from government. Made up of the House of Commons and the House of Lords, its role is to look at what the government is doing, debate issues and pass new laws set taxes.”
“Laws go through several stages before they are passed by Parliament. The House of Commons and the House of Lords work together to make them.”
“The Prime minister is head of the UK government. They are ultimately responsible for all policy and decisions. They oversee the operation of the Civil Service and government agencies, appoint members of the government, are the principal government figure in the House of Commons.”
There are 25 ministerial departments, like the Ministry Of Defence and 20 non-ministerial departments that are headed by senior civil servants.
“The Civil Service does the practical and administrative work of government. It is co-ordinated and managed by the Prime Minister, in their role as Minister for the Civil Service.”
Government has been devolved onto the three separate areas in the United Kingdom. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. These devolved governments have many legislative powers given to them by Westminster.
“Councils make and carry out decisions on local services. Many parts of England have 2 tiers of local government: county councils and district, borough or city councils.”
Whitehall where many of the Civil Servants in London work
Intelligence Services history
MI5 is one of three intelligence agencies that have their roots in World War 1 and World War 2.
SIS or MI6. The Security Service or MI5 and GCHQ.
MI5 and MI6 separated from a secret military intelligence agency established in the early 1900’s. A secret service bureau was set up in 1909 in response to the threat of German imperialism.
“Staffed initially by only two officers: the fifty-year-old Royal Navy Commander Mansfield Cumming and an Army captain fourteen years his junior, Vernon Kell. Cumming and Kell later parted company to become the first heads of, respectively, the future SIS (MI6) and MI5.
The building of the Home office where MI5 has its headquarters.
“As the Cold War came to an end, terrorist threats from Northern Ireland and states such as Colonel Qadhafi’s Libya became priorities for MI5. Major reforms were put in place and the Service gained its first female Director General. The rise of Islamist terrorism at the end of the 1990s, culminating in the 9/11 attacks in 2001, led to major changes in the way MI5 operated.”
The Secret military intelligence agency set up in 1909 operated throughout World War 1. It later separated into MI5 and MI6.
“Mansfield Cumming died shortly before he was due to retire in 1923 and Rear-Admiral Hugh Sinclair was appointed the new Chief in September 1923. Importantly, as well as becoming Chief of SIS, Sinclair assumed responsibility for the Government Code & Cypher School (GC&CS) – the forerunner to GCHQ.”
“As the Second World War was drawing to a close, SIS was preparing to meet new challenges in what soon became a ‘Cold War’.”
“In 1948 SIS and the newly created US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) held the London Conference on War Planning. These included joint handling of tactical intelligence, stay-behind projects, special operations planning and common training. The conference led to long-term liaison and a further meeting in 1949 in Washington cemented these close relations.”
Another notable point in SIS history was its “absorption of the Special Operations Executive (SOE), another wartime secret service specialising in clandestine warfare.”
“Authorised history ends in 1949 and the secret nature of our work means we cannot give much information on our operations since.”
The iconic MI6 building situated next to the River Thames
GCHQ building in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. During World War 2 it was situated at Bletchley Park.
The three intelligence agencies form “a crucial part of the UKs National Intelligence and Security machinery.”
“The National Security Strategy sets out the challenges of a changing and uncertain world and places cyber attack in the top tier of risks, alongside international terrorism, a major industrial accident or natural disaster, and international military crisis.”
“GCHQ, in concert with Security Service (also known as MI5) and the Secret Intelligence Service (also known as MI6) play a key role across all of these areas and more. Their work drives the UK Governments response to world events and enables strategic goals overseas.”