The information resource of the House is the House of Commons Library. This royal council, meeting for short-term periods, included ecclesiastics, noblemen, as well as representatives of the counties known as " knights of the shire". The chief duty of the council was to approve taxes proposed by the Crown. In many cases, however, the council demanded the redress of the people's grievances before proceeding to vote on taxation.
Thus, it developed legislative powers. In the " Model Parliament" of , representatives of the boroughs including towns and cities were also admitted. Thus, it became settled practice that each county send two knights of the shire, and that each borough send two burgesses. At first, the burgesses were almost entirely powerless; whilst county representation was fixed, the monarch could enfranchise or disfranchise boroughs at pleasure.
Any show of independence by burgesses would have led to the exclusion of their towns from Parliament. The knights of the shire were in a better position, though less powerful than their aristocratic counterparts in the still unicameral Parliament. The division of Parliament into two houses occurred during the reign of Edward III : the knights and burgesses formed the House of Commons, whilst the clergy and nobility became the House of Lords.
Though they remained subordinate to both the Crown and the Lords, the Commons did act with increasing boldness. During the Good Parliament , the Speaker of the House of Commons , Sir Peter de la Mare, complained of heavy taxes, demanded an accounting of the royal expenditures, and criticised the King's management of the military.
The Commons even proceeded to impeach some of the King's ministers. During the reign of the next monarch, Richard II , the Commons once again began to impeach errant ministers of the Crown. They insisted that they could not only control taxation, but also public expenditures.
Despite such gains in authority, however, the Commons still remained much less powerful than the House of Lords and the Crown. The influence of the Crown was further increased by the civil wars of the late fifteenth century, which destroyed the power of the great nobles. Both houses of Parliament held little power during the ensuing years, and the absolute supremacy of the Sovereign was restored.
The domination of the monarch grew even further under the Tudor dynasty in the sixteenth century. Among the most notorious of these " rotten boroughs " were Old Sarum , which had only six voters for two MPs, and Dunwich , which had largely collapsed into the sea from coastal erosion. At the same time, large cities such as Manchester received no separate representation although their eligible residents were entitled to vote in the corresponding county seat.
Also notable were the pocket boroughs , small constituencies controlled by wealthy landowners and aristocrats, whose "nominees" were invariably elected. The Commons attempted to address these anomalies by passing a Reform Bill in At first, the House of Lords proved unwilling to pass the bill, but it was forced to relent when the prime minister, Charles, 2nd Earl Grey , advised King William IV to flood the House of Lords by creating pro-Reform peers.
To avoid this, the Lords relented and passed the bill in The Reform Act , also known as the "Great Reform Act", abolished the rotten boroughs, established uniform voting requirements for the boroughs, and granted representation to populous cities, but still retained some anomalies. In the ensuing years, the Commons grew more assertive, the influence of the House of Lords having been reduced by the Reform Bill crisis, and the power of the patrons reduced.
The Lords became more reluctant to reject bills that the Commons had passed with large majorities, and it became an accepted political principle that the confidence of the House of Commons alone was necessary for a government to remain in office. Many more reforms were introduced in the latter half of the 19th century. The Reform Act lowered property requirements for voting in the boroughs, reduced the representation of the less populous boroughs, and granted parliamentary seats to several growing industrial towns.
The electorate was further expanded by the Representation of the People Act , under which property qualifications in the counties were lowered. The Redistribution of Seats Act of the following year replaced almost all multi-member constituencies with single-member constituencies. In , the Liberal Government under H. Asquith introduced a number of social welfare programmes, which, together with an expensive arms race , forced the Government to seek higher taxes.
In , the Chancellor of the Exchequer , David Lloyd George , introduced the "People's Budget", which proposed a new tax targeting wealthy landowners. This measure failed in the heavily Conservative House of Lords, and the government resigned. The resulting general election returned a hung parliament , but Asquith remained prime minister with the support of the smaller parties. Asquith then proposed that the powers of the Lords be severely curtailed.
After a further election in December , the Asquith Government secured the passage of a bill to curtail the powers of the House of Lords after threatening to flood the house with new Liberal peers to ensure the passage of the bill. Thus the Parliament Act came into effect, destroying the legislative equality of the two Houses of Parliament. The House of Lords was permitted only to delay most legislation, for a maximum of three parliamentary sessions or two calendar years reduced to two sessions or one year by the Parliament Act Since the passage of these Acts, the House of Commons has become the dominant branch of Parliament.
Since the 17th century, government ministers were paid, while other MPs were not. Most of the men elected to the Commons had private incomes, while a few relied on financial support from a wealthy patron. Early Labour MPs were often provided with a salary by a trade union, but this was declared illegal by a House of Lords judgement of Consequently, a resolution was passed in the House of Commons in introducing salaries for MPs.
In , women over 30 who owned property were given the right to vote, as were men over 21 who did not own property, quickly followed by the passage of a law enabling women to be eligible for election as members of parliament at the younger age of Women were given equal voting status as men in , and with effect from the General Election in , various forms of plural voting i.
In May and June revelations of MPs' expenses claims caused a major scandal and loss of confidence by the public in the integrity of MPs,  as well as causing the first forced resignation of the Speaker in years. In , a referendum was held, asking whether to replace the present " first-past-the-post " system with the " alternative vote " AV method.
The proposal to introduce AV was overwhelmingly rejected by The Fixed-term Parliaments Act was passed by the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition , transferring the power to call an early election from the Prime Minister to Parliament, and setting out the procedure for this. Under the act, calling an early election required a two-thirds supermajority of the house. These provisions were first used by Theresa May to trigger the snap election.
In , MPs used "standing order 24" a parliamentary procedure that triggers emergency debates as a means of gaining control of the parliamentary order paper for the following day, and passing legislation without the incumbent government's consent.
This unusual process was achieved through tabling amendments to the "motion in neutral terms", a non-binding statement released by parliament after the debate. In , new procedures for hybrid proceedings were introduced from 22 April. These mitigated the coronavirus pandemic with measures including a limit of 50 MPs in the chamber, physical distancing and remote participation using video conferencing. Later in December , the Conservative government published a draft Fixed-term Parliaments Act Repeal Bill, later retitled the Dissolution and Calling of Parliament Bill when it was introduced to the Commons in May ,  which would repeal the Fixed-term Parliaments Act in its entirety, restore the monarch's prerogative powers to dissolve Parliament at the prime minister's request, and ensure that a parliamentary term automatically ends five years after Parliament's first meeting and polling day being 25 working days later.
Since , every constituency has been represented by a single Member of Parliament. There remains a technical distinction between county and borough constituencies ; its only effects are on the amount of money candidates are allowed to spend during campaigns and the rank of the local authority co-opted Returning Officer who presides over the count. Geographic boundaries are determined by four permanent and independent Boundary Commissions , one each for England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.
The commissions conduct general reviews of electoral boundaries once every 8 to 12 years, and interim reviews. In drawing boundaries, they are required to prefer local government boundaries, but may deviate from these to prevent great disparities in electorate; such disparities are given the formal term malapportionment. The proposals of the Boundary Commissions are subject to parliamentary approval, but may not be amended. After their next Periodic Reviews, the Boundary Commissions will be absorbed into the Electoral Commission , which was established in General elections occur whenever Parliament is dissolved.
The timing of the dissolution was normally chosen by the Prime Minister see relationship with the Government above ; however, because of the Fixed-term Parliaments Act , parliamentary terms are now fixed at five years, except when the House of Commons sustains a vote of no confidence or passes an "early election" motion, the latter having to be passed by a two-thirds vote;  or, as in , by an Enabling Act which overrides the Fixed-term Parliaments Act. The first use of this procedure was in April , when MPs voted in favour of Theresa May 's call for a snap election to be held that June.
Even when the Fixed-term Parliaments Act was repealed in March , the Dissolution and Calling of Parliament Act retained Parliament's dissolution on the fifth year after its first day. All elections in the UK have for some years been held on a Thursday. The Electoral Commission is unsure when this practice arose, but dates it to , with the suggestion that it was made to coincide with market day; this would ease voting for those who had to travel into the towns to cast their ballot.
Such a deposit seeks to discourage frivolity and very long ballot papers which would cause vote splitting and arguably voter confusion. Each constituency is also called a seat as it was in , as it returns one member, using the first-past-the-post electoral system, under which the candidate with a plurality of votes wins, that is greatest number of votes.
Minors that is, anyone under the age of 18 , members of the House of Lords, and prisoners are not qualified to become members of the House of Commons. To vote, one must be a UK resident and a citizen of either Britain, a British overseas territory , the Republic of Ireland , or a member of the Commonwealth of Nations.
British citizens living abroad are allowed to vote for 15 years after leaving. It is a criminal offence for a person to vote in the ballot of more than one seat which is vacant at any election. This has not always been the case: before plural voting was permitted as voters qualified by home ownership or residence and could vote under both entitlements simultaneously, as well as for a university constituency if a university graduate.
Once elected, Members of Parliament normally continue to serve until the next dissolution of Parliament. But if a member dies or ceases to be qualified see qualifications below , his or her seat falls vacant. It is also possible for the House of Commons to expel a member, a power exercised only in cases of serious misconduct or criminal activity. In each case, the vacancy is filled by a by-election in the constituency, with the same electoral system as in general elections.
The term "Member of Parliament" by modern convention means a member of the House of Commons. These members may, and almost invariably do, use the post-nominal letters "MP". Most members also claim for various office expenses staff costs, postage, travelling, etc. There are numerous qualifications that apply to Members of Parliament. One must be aged at least 18 the minimum age was 21 until s. These restrictions were introduced by the British Nationality Act , but were previously far more stringent: under the Act of Settlement , only natural-born subjects were qualified.
Members of the House of Lords may not serve in the House of Commons, or even vote in parliamentary elections just as the Queen does not vote ; however, they are permitted to sit in the chamber during debates unlike the Queen, who cannot enter the chamber.
A person may not sit in the Commons if he or she is the subject of a Bankruptcy Restrictions Order applicable in England and Wales only , or if she or he is adjudged bankrupt in Northern Ireland , or if his or her estate is sequestered in Scotland.
Previously, MPs detained under the Mental Health Act for six months or more would have their seat vacated if two specialists reported to the Speaker that the member was suffering from a mental disorder.
However, this disqualification was removed by the Mental Health Discrimination Act There also exists a common law precedent from the 18th century that the deaf-mute are ineligible to sit in the Lower House;  this precedent, however, has not been tested in recent years. Anyone found guilty of high treason may not sit in Parliament until she or he has either completed the term of imprisonment or received a full pardon from the Crown.
Moreover, anyone serving a prison sentence of one year or more is ineligible, per Representation of the People Act Finally, members of the Senedd , formerly the National Assembly for Wales until May , and Northern Ireland Assembly are disqualified since , and sitting MPs are expelled from Parliament if sentenced to a one-year imprisonment or greater. Article , Section 2 of the Representation of the People Act formerly disqualified for ten years those found guilty of certain election-related offences, until this section was repealed in Several other disqualifications are codified in the House of Commons Disqualification Act : holders of high judicial offices , civil servants, members of the regular armed forces, members of foreign legislatures excluding the Republic of Ireland and Commonwealth countries , and holders of several Crown offices.
Ministers, even though they are paid officers of the Crown, are not disqualified. The rule that precludes certain Crown officers from serving in the House of Commons is used to circumvent a resolution adopted by the House of Commons in , under which members are not permitted to resign their seats.
In practice, however, they always can. Should a member wish to resign from the Commons , she or he may request appointment to one of two ceremonial Crown offices: that of Crown Steward and Bailiff of the Chiltern Hundreds , or that of Crown Steward and Bailiff of the Manor of Northstead. These offices are sinecures that is, they involve no actual duties ; they exist solely to permit the "resignation" of members of the House of Commons.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer is responsible for making the appointment, and, by convention, never refuses to do so when asked by a member who desires to leave the House of Commons. At the beginning of each new parliamentary term, the House of Commons elects one of its members as a presiding officer, known as the Speaker.
If the incumbent Speaker seeks a new term, then the house may re-elect him or her merely by passing a motion; otherwise, a secret ballot is held. A Speaker-elect cannot take office until she or he has been approved by the Sovereign; the granting of the royal approbation, however, is a formality. The Speaker is assisted by three Deputy Speakers, the most senior of whom holds the title of Chairman of Ways and Means.
These titles derive from the Committee of Ways and Means, a body over which the chairman once used to preside; even though the committee was abolished in , the traditional titles of the Deputy Speakers are still retained. Whilst presiding, the Speaker or Deputy Speaker traditionally wears ceremonial dress. The presiding officer may also wear a wig, but this tradition was abandoned by Speaker Betty Boothroyd.
Her successor, Michael Martin , also did not wear a wig while in the chamber. His successor, John Bercow , chose to wear a gown over a lounge suit, a decision that sparked much debate and opposition; he also did not wear a wig. The Speaker or deputy presides from a chair at the front of the house. This chair was designed by Augustus Pugin , who initially built a prototype of the chair at King Edward's School, Birmingham : that chair is called Sapientia Latin for "wisdom" and is where the chief master sits.
The Speaker is also chairman of the House of Commons Commission , which oversees the running of the house, and controls debates by calling on members to speak. A member who believes that a rule or Standing Order has been breached may raise a "point of order", on which the Speaker makes a ruling not subject to any appeal. The Speaker may discipline members who fail to observe the rules of the house. The Speaker also decides which proposed amendments to a motion are to be debated.
Thus, the Speaker is far more powerful than his or her Lords counterpart, the Lord Speaker , who has no disciplinary powers. Customarily, the Speaker and the deputies are non-partisan; they do not vote with the notable exception of tied votes, where the Speaker votes in accordance with Denison's rule , or participate in the affairs of any political party.
By convention, a Speaker seeking re-election to parliament is not opposed in his or her constituency by any of the major parties. The lack of partisanship continues even after the Speaker leaves the House of Commons. The Clerk of the House of Commons is both the house's chief adviser on matters of procedure and chief executive of the House of Commons.
She or he is a permanent official, not a member of the house itself. The Clerk advises the Speaker on the rules and procedure of the house, signs orders and official communications, and signs and endorses bills. The Clerk also chairs the Board of Management, which consists of the heads of the six departments of the house. The Clerk's deputy is known as the Clerk Assistant. Another officer of the house is the Serjeant-at-Arms , whose duties include the maintenance of law, order, and security on the house's premises.
The Serjeant-at-Arms carries the ceremonial mace , a symbol of the authority of the Crown and of the House of Commons, into the house each day before the Speaker, and the mace is laid upon the table of the house during sittings. The Librarian is head of the House of Commons Library , the house's research and information arm.
The Commons chamber is small and modestly decorated in green, unlike the large, lavishly furnished red Lords chamber. Benches sit on both sides of the chamber and are divided by a centre aisle. This arrangement reflects the design of St Stephen's Chapel , which served as the home of the House of Commons until destroyed by fire in The Speaker's chair is at one end of the chamber; in front of it, is the table of the house, on which the mace rests.
The clerks sit at one end of the table, close to the Speaker so that they may advise him or her on procedure when necessary. Members of the Government occupy the benches on the Speaker's right, whilst members of the Opposition occupy the benches on the Speaker's left. In front of each set of benches a red line is drawn, which members are traditionally not allowed to cross during debates.
The Prime Minister and the government ministers, as well as the leader of the Opposition and the Shadow Cabinet sit on the front rows, and are known as frontbenchers. Other members of parliament, in contrast, are known as backbenchers. Not all Members of Parliament can fit into the chamber at the same time, as it only has space to seat approximately two thirds of the Members.
According to Robert Rogers , former Clerk of the House of Commons and Chief Executive, a figure of seats is an average or a finger-in-the-wind estimate. Sittings in the chamber are held each day from Monday to Thursday, and also on some Fridays. During times of national emergency, the house may also sit at weekends. Sittings of the house are open to the public, but the house may at any time vote to sit in private, which has occurred only twice since Traditionally, a Member who desired that the house sit privately could shout "I spy strangers!
More often, however, this device was used to delay and disrupt proceedings; as a result, it was abolished in Now, members seeking that the house sit in private must make a formal motion to that effect. Public debates are recorded and archived in Hansard. The post war redesign of the house in included microphones, and debates were allowed to be broadcast by radio in Sessions of the House of Commons have sometimes been disrupted by angry protesters throwing objects into the chamber from the galleries—items thrown include leaflets, manure, flour, and a canister of chlorobenzylidene malonitrile tear gas.
Even members have been known to disturb proceedings of the house. For instance, in , Conservative MP Michael Heseltine seized and brandished the mace of the house during a heated debate. However, perhaps the most famous disruption of the House of Commons was caused by Charles I , who entered the Commons Chamber in with an armed force to arrest five members for high treason.
This action was deemed a breach of the privilege of the house, and has given rise to the tradition that the monarch does not set foot in the House of Commons. Each year, the parliamentary session begins with the State Opening of Parliament , a ceremony in the Lords Chamber during which the Sovereign, in the presence of Members of both Houses, delivers an address outlining the Government's legislative agenda.
When he arrives to deliver his summons, the doors of the Commons Chamber are traditionally slammed shut in his face, symbolising the right of the Lower House to debate without interference. He then knocks on the door three times with his Black Rod, and only then is granted admittance, where he informs the MPs that the Monarch awaits them, after which they proceed to the House of Lords for the Queen's Speech.
During debates, Members may speak only if called upon by the Speaker or a Deputy Speaker, if the Speaker is not presiding. Traditionally, the presiding officer alternates between calling Members from the Government and Opposition. The Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition, and other leaders from both sides are normally given priority.
All Privy Counsellors used to be granted priority; however, the modernisation of Commons procedure in led to the abolition of this tradition. Only the presiding officer may be directly addressed in debate; other members must be referred to in the third person. Traditionally, members do not refer to each other by name, but by constituency, using forms such as "the Honourable Member for [constituency]", or, in the case of Privy Counsellors, "the Right Honourable Member for [constituency]".
Members of the same party or allied parties or groups  refer to each other as "my Right Honourable friend". A currently serving, or ex-member of the Armed Forces is referred to as "the Honourable and Gallant Member" a barrister used to be called "the Honourable and Learned Member", and a woman "the Honourable Lady the Member". The Speaker enforces the rules of the house and may warn and punish members who deviate from them. Disregarding the Speaker's instructions is considered a breach of the rules of the House and may result in the suspension of the offender from the house.
In the case of grave disorder , the Speaker may adjourn the house without taking a vote. The Standing Orders of the House of Commons do not establish any formal time limits for debates. The Speaker may, however, order a member who persists in making a tediously repetitive or irrelevant speech to stop speaking. The time set aside for debate on a particular motion is, however, often limited by informal agreements between the parties.
Debate may also be restricted by the passage of "allocation of time motions", which are more commonly known as " guillotine motions ". Alternatively, the house may put an immediate end to debate by passing a motion to invoke closure. The Speaker is allowed to deny the motion if she or he believes that it infringes upon the rights of the minority. Today, bills are scheduled according to a timetable motion, which the whole house agrees in advance, negating the use of a guillotine.
When the debate concludes, or when the closure is invoked, the motion is put to a vote. The house first votes by voice vote; the Speaker or Deputy Speaker puts the question, and Members respond either "Aye!
The presiding officer then announces the result of the voice vote, but if his or her assessment is challenged by any member or the voice vote is unclear, a recorded vote known as a division follows. The presiding officer, if she or he believes that the result of the voice vote is clear, may reject the challenge.
When a division occurs, members enter one of two lobbies the "Aye" lobby or the "No" lobby on either side of the chamber, where their names are recorded by clerks. A member who wishes to pointedly abstain from a vote may do so by entering both lobbies, casting one vote for and one against. At each lobby are two tellers themselves members of the house who count the votes of the members. Once the division concludes, the tellers provide the results to the presiding officer, who then announces them to the house.
If the votes are tied, the Speaker or Deputy Speaker has a casting vote. Traditionally, this casting vote is exercised to allow further debate, if this is possible, or otherwise to avoid a decision without a majority e. Ties rarely occur: more than 25 years passed between the last two ones in July and April The quorum of the House of Commons is 40 members for any vote, including the Speaker and four tellers. If fewer than 40 members have participated, the division is invalid.
Formerly, if a member sought to raise a point of order during a division, suggesting that some of the rules governing parliamentary procedure are violated, he was required to wear a hat, thereby signalling that he was not engaging in debate. Collapsible top hats were kept in the chamber just for this purpose. This custom was discontinued in The outcome of most votes is largely known beforehand, since political parties normally instruct members on how to vote.
A party normally entrusts some members of parliament, known as whips , with the task of ensuring that all party members vote as desired. Members of Parliament do not tend to vote against such instructions, since those who do so jeopardise promotion, or may be deselected as party candidates for future elections.
Ministers, junior ministers and parliamentary private secretaries who vote against the whips' instructions usually resign. Thus, the independence of Members of Parliament tends to be low, although "backbench rebellions" by members discontent with their party's policies do occur. A member is also traditionally allowed some leeway if the particular interests of his constituency are adversely affected.
In some circumstances, however, parties announce " free votes ", allowing members to vote as they please. Votes relating to issues of conscience such as abortion and capital punishment are typically free votes. Pairing is an arrangement where a member from one party agrees with a member of another party not to vote in a particular division, allowing both MPs the opportunity not to attend.
A bisque is permission from the Whips given to a member to miss a vote or debate in the house to attend to constituency business or other matters. The British Parliament uses committees for a variety of purposes, e.
Committees consider bills in detail, and may make amendments. Bills of great constitutional importance, as well as some important financial measures, are usually sent to the "Committee of the Whole House", a body that includes all members of the Commons. The committee meets in the House of Commons Chamber. Most bills were until considered by standing committees, which consisted of between 16 and 50 members. The membership of each standing committee roughly reflected the strength of the parties in the House.
The membership of standing committees changed constantly; new Members were assigned each time the committee considered a new bill. The number of standing committees was not limited, but usually only ten existed. Rarely, a bill was committed to a Special Standing Committee, which investigated and held hearings on the issues raised. In November , standing committees were replaced by public bill committees.
The House of Commons also has several departmental select committees. The membership of these bodies, like that of the standing committees, reflects the strength of the parties. The chairman of each committee is voted on in a secret ballot of the whole house during the first session of a parliamentary term, or when a vacancy occurs. The number of select committee chairmanships allocated to each party reflects the strength of the parties, and the parties allocate the positions through agreement.
The primary function of a departmental select committee is to scrutinise and investigate the activities of a particular government department. To fulfil these aims, it is permitted to hold hearings and collect evidence.
Bills may be referred to Departmental Select Committees, but such a procedure is seldom used. A separate type of select committee is the Domestic Committee. Domestic Committees oversee the administration of the House and the services provided to Members. Other committees of the House of Commons include Joint Committees which also include members of the House of Lords , the Committee on Standards and Privileges which considers questions of parliamentary privilege , as well as matters relating to the conduct of the members , and the Committee of Selection which determines the membership of other committees.
The symbol used by the Commons consists of a portcullis topped by St Edward's Crown. It was originally the badge of Beaufort, his mother's family; and a pun on the name Tudor, as in tu- door. In , the British television production company Granada Television created a near-full size replica of the post House of Commons debating chamber at its studios in Manchester for use in its adaptation of the Jeffrey Archer novel First Among Equals.
The set was highly convincing, and was retained after the production—since then, it has been used in nearly every British film and television production that has featured scenes set in the chamber. From until it was also one of the prominent attractions on the Granada Studios Tour , where visitors could watch actors performing mock political debates on the set.
The major difference between the studio set and the real House of Commons Chamber is that the studio set has just four rows of seats on either side whereas the real Chamber has five. Abbott, a former Granada Television staff writer, bought it because the set would otherwise have been destroyed and he feared it would take too long to get the necessary money from the BBC.
Abbott kept the set in storage in Oxford. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Lower house in the Parliament of the United Kingdom. For other bodies in British history and abroad, see House of Commons. Lower house.
The distance between the two sides is the length of two drawn swords. The benches in the Chamber, as well as other furnishings in the Lords' side of the Palace, are coloured red. House of Lords. The Woolsack is a seat stuffed with wool on which the Lord Speaker sits. It was introduced by King Edward III and originally stuffed with English wool as a reminder of England's traditional source of wealth - the wool trade - and as a sign of prosperity.
The octagonal Central Lobby is the main reception area. It is decorated with mosaics. The Speaker who is in charge of the Commons walks through here on the way to debates, carrying the Mace, the symbol of royal authority. Central Lobby. St Stephen's Hall is on the site of the chapel of the old Palace of Westminster in medieval times.
This was then used as the first location for the House of Commons: brass studs in the floor show the positions of the speaker's chair before that the altar was here. The British Parliament sits in the Building which is called … or …. There are two Houses in the Parliament: … and ….
The Westminster Hall has a … decorated with carved angels. Now the millions of … are kept in Victoria Tower. The Palace of Westminster includes over … rooms. The first room you enter the Houses of Parliament is called the …. The benches in the Chamber of … are coloured red.
The benches in the Chamber of … are coloured green. Fill in the gaps with the words and expressions. The Westminster Hall has a huge wooden roof decorated with carved angels. Now the millions of government documents are kept in Victoria Tower. The Palace of Westminster includes over 1, rooms. The benches in the Chamber of the House of Lords are coloured red. The benches in the Chamber of the House of Commons are coloured green. Check Yourself.
Use the scheme to find the correct statement. Welcome to the Palace of Westminster. It consists of three parts: the Royal Apartments where the colour is gold, the House of Lords where the seats are red and the House of Commons where the seats are green.
We are now in the Chamber of the House of Lords. Please be quiet and don't sit on these red benches. The Chamber of the House of Lords is also called the Parliament Chamber, because every year when the Queen comes to open Parliament, all three parts of Parliament come together here for the Queen's Speech.
In fact, it's not really the Queen's Speech, because she doesn't write it. The Government writes it for her. In the speech the Queen tells Parliament about the Government's plans for the next year. When she gives her speech, she sits on the throne over there.
Can you all see it? Yes, it's that big chair behind the big red cushion. Oh, and that cushion is, actually, the famous Woolsack. And yes, there is wool inside it. It's a part of a very old tradition which started in the 14th century. It was put in Parliament to symbolise the importance of wool to the British economy at that time. The person who usually sits on the Woolsack is the Lord Chancellor.
He presides over the House of Lords. Now we are going through into the House of Commons, where MPs make decisions on new laws. Let's walk through this beautiful arch. There are two statues, one on each side of the arch. Both of these two men were Prime Ministers. We have a tradition: if you're a Conservative, touch Churchill's shoe, and if you're Labour, touch Lloyd George's shoe. Have you touched a shoe? Now let's turn right.
Do you see two long narrow corridors on your left and on your right? These are very important for the whole country because MPs come here to vote on bills for new laws. On the left there is the "aye", or yes, lobby. MPs who agree with a bill go there. On the right there is the "no" lobby for MPs who want to vote against the bill.
Then the officials count the "ayes" and the "noes" to get the results. So in the British Parliament MPs don't vote by pushing a button; they vote with their feet. Let's go through the "no" lobby and into the House of Commons, where you'll see that the benches are green.
The chamber here isn't very big. In fact, there are only places for people on the benches, but there are MPs, so sometimes they have to sit on the steps when the House is full. Now we're standing behind the Speaker's chair. The Speaker is the person who presides over the House of Commons. Article Scottish and English peers were to have the same privileges.
All peers of Scotland were to be deemed peers of Great Britain. The Scottish crown jewels, parliamentary and other official records were to stay in Scotland. The ceremony was witnessed by courtiers and foreign ambassadors. In contrast to the abortive negotiations for union of , the English this time had gone out of their way to accommodate Scottish demands, particularly over access to English trade.
Next the Scottish Parliament had to agree to the Articles of Union. This turned out to be arduous and was accomplished against a background of protest, often violent, in many parts of Scotland. The new session of the Scottish Parliament began on 3 October Its main business was to agree the Articles of Union.
Honours, appointments, pensions and even arrears of pay and other expenses were distributed to clinch support from Scottish peers and MPs. About of the members of the single-chamber Scottish Parliament were court supporters — on the side of the Queen and her government — and thus in favour of union. For extra votes the court was able to rely on the 25 or so members of the Squadrone Volante led by the Marquess of Montrose and the Duke of Roxburghe.
Opponents of the court, generally known as the Country party, were a loose grouping of factions and individuals. They included leading anti-unionists, such as the Duke of Hamilton, Lord Belhaven and Andrew Fletcher of Saltoun, who spoke forcefully and passionately against the union. However, as Country party members were not ordered to attend and vote as was the case with the Court party, the latter was able to maintain a steady majority over its opponents.
The 25th and last Article was approved on 14 January On 16 January it was ordered that the Act for guaranteeing the Presbyterian Kirk be made part of the Act of Ratification. The Act of Ratification was then put to a vote. In effect this was a final vote on the Articles of Union.
On 28 January , 12 days after Edinburgh ratified the Articles of Union, the Queen formally presented them for ratification to Parliament at Westminster. The House of Commons debated the Articles from 1 — 11th February Only two sittings of the committee of the whole house were needed to go through all 25 articles.
Proceedings in the Lords began on 15 February, and the Tories, though no match for the combined forces of the Court and the Junto, were determined to dig in. Although they generally favoured union, they found fault with many of the provisions, and voiced fears about the safety of the constitution and of the Church of England. There were objections to almost every Article and votes were held on several but the opposition vote was never higher than twenty three. The House of Lords finished scrutinising the Articles on 27 February.
In the meantime, the House of Commons approved a bill to ratify the Articles. It was debated in the House of Lords on 1 March, which provided a further opportunity for Tory peers to debate the wisdom of confirming the Scottish Kirk Act as part of the Union. A last-minute attempt to have the Act removed from the Treaty was unsuccessful, and on 6 March the Queen attended the House of Lords to give her assent to the English bill ratifying the Union.
The English Act of Union was now law. But little thought had been given to how the Union would actually work in practice, or how Scotland would be governed in its new relationship with England. This had to be worked out in practice in the decades that followed.
Any remaining tensions in the relationship between England and Scotland were overshadowed by differences with other parts of the empire. Both the American Revolutionary War, which broke out in , and perennially troubled Anglo-Irish relations, underlined the relative strength of Scottish loyalty to the Union.
Many of the harsh laws imposed on the Highlands in the aftermath of Culloden were repealed in the s and s. At about the time the clearances mass evictions and emigration of Highland populations entered a new and more intense phase in the s, the high point of what was known as Highlandism was reached when King George IV made a state visit to Scotland in August This visit, the first by a British Monarch since King Charles II in , was deliberately contrived to reaffirm the bond between the Scots and their Monarch, which had been challenged so repeatedly in the past.
Before the later 19th and early 20th century only a small minority of men were entitled to vote in parliamentary elections. Parliament was dominated by rich landowners and reflected their interests. Their priorities were to defend their property rights against taxation and state interference.
Social disorder was not tolerated. Women did not have any right to vote at all. The growth of industry in the 18th century brought great change to the country, its people and their aspirations. Towns and cities increased in population as factories grew in number and people were drawn to work in urban areas as agriculture declined. This led to further inequalities in representation in Parliament.
Urban areas such as Birmingham and Manchester had no Members of Parliament while small villages which had once been important in the Middle Ages sometimes sent two representatives to Parliament. A sense of injustice and a growing political consciousness outside the landed classes, as well as the influence of revolutions in America and France, contributed to a small but growing demand for parliamentary reform. As the 19th century progressed and the memory of the violent French Revolution faded, there was growing acceptance that some parliamentary reform was necessary.
When the Tory government was ousted later in , Earl Grey, a Whig, became Prime Minister and pledged to carry out parliamentary reform. The Whig Party was pro-reform and though two reform bills failed to be carried in Parliament, the third was successful and received Royal Assent in On hearing of this plan, Tory peers abstained from voting, thus allowing the Bill to be passed but avoiding the creation of more Whig peers.
Limited change had been achieved but for many it did not go far enough. The property qualifications meant that the majority of working men still could not vote. But it had been proved that change was possible and over the next decades the call for further parliamentary reform continued. The Reform Act proved that change was possible. The parliamentary elite felt that they had met the need for change but among the working classes there were demands for more.
The growth and influence of the Chartist Movement from onwards was an indication that more parliamentary reform was desired. The Chartist Movement had peaked by the s but there was an acceptance among Members of Parliament that there was more work to be done to remove anomalies in the system that the first Reform Act had not addressed. There was no question of campaigning for the right to vote for women too. They were still excluded.
Men in urban areas who met the property qualification were enfranchised and the Act roughly doubled the electorate in England and Wales from one to two million men. The following year, the Redistribution of Seats Act redrew boundaries to make electoral districts equal.
As a result of this Act, most areas returned only one Member to Parliament, although 23 seats, including the City of London and Bath, continued to return two Members until Parliament and the political landscape changed greatly over the 19th century, beginning with a small ruling elite in Parliament and gradually increasing to be more democratic and representative.
The Parliament Acts, although rarely used, provide a way of solving disagreement between the Commons and the Lords. Until the early years of the 20th century, the House of Lords had the power to veto stop legislation. Eventually, the budget was passed after a general election in ; a second general election was then fought on the issue of reform of the House of Lords.
The result was the Parliament Act , which removed from the House of Lords the power to veto a Bill, except one to extend the lifetime of a Parliament. Instead, the Lords could delay a Bill by up to two years. The Act also reduced the maximum lifespan of a Parliament from seven years to five years. However, one section of society was still completely excluded from the voting process — women. To be truly representative, Parliament still had changes to make. The modern campaign to secure the right to vote for women began in the midth century.
This aim was partially achieved with the Representation of the People Act The Parliament Qualification of Women Act followed later the same year and allowed women to stand as Members of Parliament. It was not until the Equal Franchise Act was passed in that women won the same voting rights as men. Women felt they should have the right to vote for many reasons, particularly because they had to pay taxes and abide by the law, just as men did.
They believed they had an equal right to influence Parliament and government by voting. During the 19th century, the franchise was extended to include more men both in the Second Reform Act and the Third Reform Act Many working class men could now vote. Many women who were denied the right to vote were in similar circumstances to these men, being rate-payers and subject to the same laws of the land.
There was a growing sense of injustice and from the midth century onwards groups of women joined together to campaign for the vote. They were known as suffragists. Suffragist groups existed all over the country and under many different names but their aim was the same: to achieve the right to vote for women through constitutional, peaceful means. There were regional groups, especially in urban centres like Manchester, which held public meetings and petitioned at local level.
At national level, key individuals included Millicent Fawcett and Lydia Becker. This succeeded in keeping the issue in the public eye as Parliamentary proceedings were extensively covered in the national and regional press of the time. There was some criticism that by concentrating so heavily on activities in Parliament, the movement sacrificed opportunities to mobilise mass support throughout the rest of the country. The use of petitions was another tactic employed by the suffragists to demonstrate support for their cause.
These petitions were presented to Parliament. Another early petition was presented by John Stuart Mill, the philosopher, political economist and Member of Parliament, in The impact of peaceful tactics seemed to have been exhausted. It seemed to some campaigners that a different, more radical approach was needed.
The Pankhurst family is closely associated with the militant campaign for the vote. Membership of the WSPU was limited to women only. WPSU members were determined to obtain the right to vote for women by any means and campaigned tirelessly and sometimes violently to achieve this aim. Their militant campaigns included attacks on property and politicians, which resulted in imprisonment and hunger strikes.
These tactics attracted a great deal of attention to the campaign for votes for women. The first hunger strike was undertaken by Marion Wallace-Dunlop in as a protest when she was not given political prisoner status in prison. She had been arrested for damaging a wall in St. When imprisoned, suffragettes would go on hunger strike, leading to the authorities force-feeding women in prison, a dangerous and humiliating treatment which provided the suffragettes with powerful propaganda.
This permitted the early release of women who had become so ill as a result of their hunger strike that they were at risk of death but required that they return to prison when their health was better to continue their sentence. In , a Conciliation Bill was read in Parliament. The bill was written to extend voting rights to women but failed to become law. Following its failure there were violent clashes outside Parliament.
There were further Conciliation Bills proposed in subsequent years but they failed to resolve the situation. She was imprisoned eight times for offences including assault and stone-throwing. It is unclear whether she intended to commit suicide, but she died soon afterwards of her injuries. The involvement of women in the war effort did much to change perceptions of the role of women in British society.
During the war years women undertook jobs normally carried out by men and proved they could do the work just as well. Between and , an estimated two million women replaced men in employment, resulting in an increase in the proportion of women in total employment from 24 per cent in July to 37 per cent by November However, it was not just that women proved themselves equal to men in the workplace that the arguments for the right to vote were strengthened. The ongoing work of the suffragist movement and the commitment of the growing Labour Party movement to widening the franchise were also factors.
An influential consideration, in addition to the suffrage movement and the growth of the Labour Party, was the fact that only men who had been resident in the country for twelve months prior to a general election were entitled to vote.
This effectively disenfranchised a large number of troops who had been serving overseas in the war. With a general election imminent, politicians were persuaded to extend the vote to women at long last. In the Representation of the People Act was passed which allowed women over the age of 30 who met a property qualification to vote. Although eight and half million women met this criteria, it only represented 40 per cent of the total population of women in the UK.
The same act extended the vote to all men over the age of The electorate increased from eight to twenty one million but there was still huge inequality between women and men. In some women over the age of 30 got the vote. It was also the year that, a separate law was passed — the Parliament Qualification of Women Act — which allowed women to stand as candidates and be elected as MPs.
The first woman to be elected to the Commons was a Polish Countess, Constance Markievicz, in the general election of However as a member of Sinn Fein, she did not take her seat. The first women to take her seat was Nancy Astor Viscountess Astor , after a by-election in December She was elected as a Conservative for the Plymouth Sutton constituency after her husband, Waldorf Astor, the former MP, was elevated to the peerage.
She held the seat until she stood down in Her husband also worked to promote the admission of women to the House of Lords during the s. It was not until the Equal Franchise Act of that women over 21 were able to vote and women finally achieved the same voting rights as men. This act increased the number of women eligible to vote to fifteen million. Women were given the right to stand for Parliament in but still could not become members of the House of Lords.
As he had no sons he had made a special request for her daughter to be able to take his title after he died. However this did not entitle her to take his seat in the Upper House. She had been a militant suffragette in her youth, and had been jailed for setting fire to a post-box. In prison she went on hunger strike. Her case was referred to the House of Lords Committee for Privileges and was heard in Initially the Committee found in her favour but this decision was soon reversed following opposition from the Lord Chancellor, Lord Birkenhead F.
Between and in the aftermath of the Rhondda case, various Bills were introduced into the Lords proposing that hereditary women peers should be able to sit in the Upper House. Viscount Astor, the husband of Nancy Astor, the first woman MP, also introduced a series of motions in the Lords to allow Peeresses to sit in the House, all of which were unsuccessful.
After the Second World War, there was renewed interest in the subject. A pressure group was formed, chaired by Edward Iwi, which collected a petition of 50, signatures, although it was never presented to Parliament. On the 2 March another petition was presented to the House of Lords which bore the signatures of Lady Rhondda and Lady Ravensdale.
The latter — formerly Irene Curzon — would become one of the first women to sit in the Lords. On the 27 July the Lords voted on its composition. Although no legislation followed, this vote established for the first time that the House of Lords was in favour of admitting women.
But it was not until the Life Peerages Act that women were finally allowed to sit in the Upper House as life peers. Viscountess Rhondda lived to see the passage of the Life Peerages Act, but died on 20 July , before the first women took their seats as life peers in the Lords in October.
Hereditary women peers were finally allowed to sit in the House of Lords after the Peerage Act Previous Next. The First Parliaments The first known official use of the term Parliament was recorded in The emergence of the House of Commons and Speaker King Edward III came to the throne in , and from that point the representatives of the counties knights of the shire and of the towns burgesses became a permanent part of Parliament. Lords spiritual The Lords spiritual were the Bishops and Abbots.
Lords temporal In the early Middle Ages the Lords temporal consisted of only a small number of Earls and a much larger number of Barons, of whom only about a third were summoned to any individual Parliament. The Wars of the Roses From , when the infant King Henry VI came to the throne, the realm descended into civil war, the Wars of the Roses, as rival groups of great nobles and their followers fought for power.
Knights of the shire The composition of the House of Commons, and the way in which its members were elected, underwent important changes in the 15th and 16th centuries. Aristocratic strife During this period of aristocratic strife, the Wars of the Roses, the leading peers of the different factions tried to build up the number of their followers in the Commons and they took advantage of the opportunity to restrict the elections, in both voters and candidates, to landowners like themselves.
From this point the Knights of the Shire largely came from and primarily expressed the interests of the landed elite, known as the gentry, and were often brought into Parliament by the influence and efforts of the peers in the Lords The Burgesses The larger group in the Commons were the burgesses, two from each town allowed to return representatives, known as a borough.
Burgess selection The selection of burgesses depended on the will of the Monarch. Pocket boroughs A statute of stated that burgesses should inhabit the boroughs for which they were elected. Records of Parliament During the 15th and 16th centuries there were important institutional developments in Parliament, especially in its record keeping.
Start of an Institution By the late 15th century, Parliament had become such an important institution that it gained its own independent officials and organisation. The Journals The records of Parliament also underwent change. Power shift In only a few short years, Parliament — under the direction and impetus of King Henry VIII — made laws affecting all aspects of national life, especially in religious practice and doctrine, which had previously been under the authority of the Church alone.
Constitutional change The Reformation Parliament thus asserted the supreme authority, or sovereignty, of Parliament in making statute, or more precisely the sovereignty of Crown-in-Parliament, the royal authority embodied in law passed by the Monarch, Lords and Commons.
Elizabethan Parliaments There are several ways of approaching our understanding of Parliament during its development in the 16th century, and there have been many debates between historians, especially concerning the Parliaments of Elizabeth I. The Restoration of the Monarchy After years of failed political experiments, most people turned with relief to the old ideas of what constituted a proper Parliament and government.
Civil War once again? Catholics and Protestants Restoration England was afflicted by religious conflict. The exclusion crisis Each of the three Exclusion Parliaments saw the progress in the House of Commons of a Bill which aimed to prohibit the Duke of York from succeeding to the throne. The Glorious Revolution The fact that William, upon arrival with his army in the English capital, did not claim the throne by conquest, but summoned a Convention of Members of Parliament not called a Parliament, as it was not summoned by the King to devise a political settlement has made him the great hero of Whig historians such as Macaulay.
The Convention and Bill of Rights The Whigs and Tories in the Convention argued for days over whether James II had abdicated and had thereby made the throne vacant or whether he had temporarily deserted the throne, by which a Regency in his name should be established. Raising money for war The House of Commons, which had been in charge of initiating supply Bills since the 15th century, deliberately kept King William III underfunded, ensuring that he and later his successor Queen Anne had to keep Parliament almost continuously in session to get the money necessary to run a war.
Commission of Public Accounts In the Commons established a Commission of Public Accounts to monitor how the revenue was being spent by the Crown and began inserting appropriations in its supply Bills, directing how the revenue it raised was to be used for specific purposes. The Protestant Succession There was little concern in that the Protestant Succession was in danger, but there was unease when Queen Mary died in December without leaving any children.
Act of Union Until the early 17th century England and Scotland were two entirely independent kingdoms. Negotiations As a result of this encouragement, the Convention appointed commissioners to negotiate with the English but met with a wall of disinterest.
Bill proposed By early these talks had hardened into a legislative proposal backed by the King. Trade, taxes and religion An incorporating parliamentary union — meaning the Scots would give up their own parliament — was agreed in principle, as was the Hanoverian succession. Darien derails the talks The talks eventually foundered on the question of whether the large numbers of Company of Scotland shareholders should be compensated by the English for losses incurred in the Darien scheme, an unsuccessful attempt by Scotland to establish a colony called — New Caledonia — in Panama in the s.
The commission was adjourned on 3 February until October, but never reconvened. Queensberry had now completely lost control of the Parliament. Economic pressure The Tories wanted to censure Godolphin for allowing the Act to pass, but the Whigs said that would antagonise the Scots even more by implying that their legislature was inferior to the English.
Both bills became law early in Negotiating the Articles of Union — The Scottish Parliament assembled in Edinburgh on 28 June , but for nearly a month did nothing to consider the question. Who should choose the new commissioners? Ruthless execution The ruthless execution in March of Captain Green, whose English ship, the Worcester, had strayed into Scottish waters, showed how delicate the relationship was between England and Scotland. The negotiations Negotiations between the English and Scottish commissioners were held at the Cockpit, one of the government buildings at Whitehall in London.
Wide range of issues The commissioners worked amicably through a wide range of issues with little difficulty: the union flag and the standardisation of weights, measures and coinage; the preservation of private rights, and of heritable offices and jurisdictions; and the number of Scottish peers and Members of Parliament to sit in Westminster.
The Scottish Kirk There was, however, one highly sensitive area where the negotiators were not permitted: the Scottish Kirk or church. The Articles, constitution and trade There were 25 Articles of Union which formed the basis of the two separate Acts of Union passed by the Parliaments at Westminster and in Edinburgh. Ratification, October — March In contrast to the abortive negotiations for union of , the English this time had gone out of their way to accommodate Scottish demands, particularly over access to English trade.
Support and opposition The new session of the Scottish Parliament began on 3 October Extra votes For extra votes the court was able to rely on the 25 or so members of the Squadrone Volante led by the Marquess of Montrose and the Duke of Roxburghe. Approval and royal assent The 25th and last Article was approved on 14 January Westminster debates the Articles On 28 January , 12 days after Edinburgh ratified the Articles of Union, the Queen formally presented them for ratification to Parliament at Westminster.
Ratification In the meantime, the House of Commons approved a bill to ratify the Articles. By the late 18th century a British identity had been forged in the wider world. The King returns to Scotland At about the time the clearances mass evictions and emigration of Highland populations entered a new and more intense phase in the s, the high point of what was known as Highlandism was reached when King George IV made a state visit to Scotland in August Changes in the political landscape Before the later 19th and early 20th century only a small minority of men were entitled to vote in parliamentary elections.
Effects of industrialisation The growth of industry in the 18th century brought great change to the country, its people and their aspirations. American and French revolutions A sense of injustice and a growing political consciousness outside the landed classes, as well as the influence of revolutions in America and France, contributed to a small but growing demand for parliamentary reform.
The Reform Act As the 19th century progressed and the memory of the violent French Revolution faded, there was growing acceptance that some parliamentary reform was necessary. The pre-eminence of the House of Commons The powers of the House of Lords are limited by a combination of law and convention.
Parliament Acts: background Until the early years of the 20th century, the House of Lords had the power to veto stop legislation. Parliament Act The result was the Parliament Act , which removed from the House of Lords the power to veto a Bill, except one to extend the lifetime of a Parliament. Votes for women However, one section of society was still completely excluded from the voting process — women. However, the term was adopted by women themselves and became widely used.
Right to vote Women felt they should have the right to vote for many reasons, particularly because they had to pay taxes and abide by the law, just as men did. Working class men could vote Many working class men could now vote. Suffragist groups Suffragist groups existed all over the country and under many different names but their aim was the same: to achieve the right to vote for women through constitutional, peaceful means.
Parliamentary activities There was some criticism that by concentrating so heavily on activities in Parliament, the movement sacrificed opportunities to mobilise mass support throughout the rest of the country. Petitions The use of petitions was another tactic employed by the suffragists to demonstrate support for their cause.
Start of the suffragette movement The Pankhurst family is closely associated with the militant campaign for the vote. Militant action Their militant campaigns included attacks on property and politicians, which resulted in imprisonment and hunger strikes. Representation of the People Act In the Representation of the People Act was passed which allowed women over the age of 30 who met a property qualification to vote. The following year the first woman MP took her seat in the House of Commons.
Equal Franchise Act It was not until the Equal Franchise Act of that women over 21 were able to vote and women finally achieved the same voting rights as men. Women and the House of Lords Women were given the right to stand for Parliament in but still could not become members of the House of Lords.
Private Members Bills Between and in the aftermath of the Rhondda case, various Bills were introduced into the Lords proposing that hereditary women peers should be able to sit in the Upper House. The Lords vote in favour On the 27 July the Lords voted on its composition.
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The business of Parliament takes place in two Houses. It alone possesses legislative supremacy and thereby ultimate power over all other political bodies in the UK and the. The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the supreme legislative body of the United Kingdom, the Crown dependencies and the British overseas territories. It alone possesses legislative supremacy and thereby ultimate power over all other political.