Parliament of the United Kingdom
Overview
The Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (commonly referred to as the British Parliament, the Westminster Parliament or, formerly, the Imperial Parliament) is the supreme legislative body
Legislature
A legislature is a kind of deliberative assembly with the power to pass, amend, and repeal laws. The law created by a legislature is called legislation or statutory law. In addition to enacting laws, legislatures usually have exclusive authority to raise or lower taxes and adopt the budget and...

 in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

, British Crown dependencies and British overseas territories
British overseas territories
The British Overseas Territories are fourteen territories of the United Kingdom which, although they do not form part of the United Kingdom itself, fall under its jurisdiction. They are remnants of the British Empire that have not acquired independence or have voted to remain British territories...

, located in London. Parliament alone possesses legislative supremacy
Parliamentary sovereignty
Parliamentary sovereignty is a concept in the constitutional law of some parliamentary democracies. In the concept of parliamentary sovereignty, a legislative body has absolute sovereignty, meaning it is supreme to all other government institutions—including any executive or judicial bodies...

 and thereby ultimate power over all other political bodies in the UK and its territories.
Encyclopedia
The Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (commonly referred to as the British Parliament, the Westminster Parliament or, formerly, the Imperial Parliament) is the supreme legislative body
Legislature
A legislature is a kind of deliberative assembly with the power to pass, amend, and repeal laws. The law created by a legislature is called legislation or statutory law. In addition to enacting laws, legislatures usually have exclusive authority to raise or lower taxes and adopt the budget and...

 in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

, British Crown dependencies and British overseas territories
British overseas territories
The British Overseas Territories are fourteen territories of the United Kingdom which, although they do not form part of the United Kingdom itself, fall under its jurisdiction. They are remnants of the British Empire that have not acquired independence or have voted to remain British territories...

, located in London. Parliament alone possesses legislative supremacy
Parliamentary sovereignty
Parliamentary sovereignty is a concept in the constitutional law of some parliamentary democracies. In the concept of parliamentary sovereignty, a legislative body has absolute sovereignty, meaning it is supreme to all other government institutions—including any executive or judicial bodies...

 and thereby ultimate power over all other political bodies in the UK and its territories. At its head is the Sovereign
Monarchy of the United Kingdom
The monarchy of the United Kingdom is the constitutional monarchy of the United Kingdom and its overseas territories. The present monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, has reigned since 6 February 1952. She and her immediate family undertake various official, ceremonial and representational duties...

, Queen Elizabeth II
Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom
Elizabeth II is the constitutional monarch of 16 sovereign states known as the Commonwealth realms: the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica, Barbados, the Bahamas, Grenada, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Belize,...

.

The parliament
Parliament
A parliament is a legislature, especially in those countries whose system of government is based on the Westminster system modeled after that of the United Kingdom. The name is derived from the French , the action of parler : a parlement is a discussion. The term came to mean a meeting at which...

 is bicameral
Bicameralism
In the government, bicameralism is the practice of having two legislative or parliamentary chambers. Thus, a bicameral parliament or bicameral legislature is a legislature which consists of two chambers or houses....

, with an upper house
Upper house
An upper house, often called a senate, is one of two chambers of a bicameral legislature, the other chamber being the lower house; a legislature composed of only one house is described as unicameral.- Possible specific characteristics :...

, the House of Lords
House of Lords
The House of Lords is the upper house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Like the House of Commons, it meets in the Palace of Westminster....

, and a lower house
Lower house
A lower house is one of two chambers of a bicameral legislature, the other chamber being the upper house.Despite its official position "below" the upper house, in many legislatures worldwide the lower house has come to wield more power...

, the House of Commons. The Queen is the third component of the legislature. The House of Lords includes two different types of members: the Lords Spiritual
Lords Spiritual
The Lords Spiritual of the United Kingdom, also called Spiritual Peers, are the 26 bishops of the established Church of England who serve in the House of Lords along with the Lords Temporal. The Church of Scotland, which is Presbyterian, is not represented by spiritual peers...

 (the senior bishop
Bishop
A bishop is an ordained or consecrated member of the Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight. Within the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox Churches, in the Assyrian Church of the East, in the Independent Catholic Churches, and in the...

s of the Church of England
Church of England
The Church of England is the officially established Christian church in England and the Mother Church of the worldwide Anglican Communion. The church considers itself within the tradition of Western Christianity and dates its formal establishment principally to the mission to England by St...

) and the Lords Temporal (members of the Peerage
Peerage
The Peerage is a legal system of largely hereditary titles in the United Kingdom, which constitute the ranks of British nobility and is part of the British honours system...

) whose members are not elected by the population at large, but are appointed by the Sovereign on advice of the Prime Minister.

Prior to the opening of the Supreme Court
Supreme Court of the United Kingdom
The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom is the supreme court in all matters under English law, Northern Ireland law and Scottish civil law. It is the court of last resort and highest appellate court in the United Kingdom; however the High Court of Justiciary remains the supreme court for criminal...

 in October 2009 the House of Lords also performed a judicial role
Judicial functions of the House of Lords
The House of Lords, in addition to having a legislative function, historically also had a judicial function. It functioned as a court of first instance for the trials of peers, for impeachment cases, and as a court of last resort within the United Kingdom. In the latter case the House's...

 through the Law Lords. The House of Commons is a democratically elected chamber with elections to it held at least every five years. The two Houses meet in separate chambers
Chambers of parliament
Many parliaments or other legislatures consist of two chambers : an elected lower house, and an upper house or Senate which may be appointed or elected by a different mechanism from the lower house. This style of two houses is called bicameral...

 in the Palace of Westminster
Palace of Westminster
The Palace of Westminster, also known as the Houses of Parliament or Westminster Palace, is the meeting place of the two houses of the Parliament of the United Kingdom—the House of Lords and the House of Commons...

 (commonly known as the Houses of Parliament), in London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

. By constitutional convention
Constitutional convention (political custom)
A constitutional convention is an informal and uncodified procedural agreement that is followed by the institutions of a state. In some states, notably those Commonwealth of Nations states that follow the Westminster system and whose political systems derive from British constitutional law, most...

, all government ministers
Minister (government)
A minister is a politician who holds significant public office in a national or regional government. Senior ministers are members of the cabinet....

, including the Prime Minister
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the Head of Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom. The Prime Minister and Cabinet are collectively accountable for their policies and actions to the Sovereign, to Parliament, to their political party and...

, are members of the House of Commons or, less often, the House of Lords, and are thereby accountable to the respective branches of the legislature.

The Parliament of Great Britain
Parliament of Great Britain
The Parliament of Great Britain was formed in 1707 following the ratification of the Acts of Union by both the Parliament of England and Parliament of Scotland...

 was formed in 1707 following the ratification of the Treaty of Union
Treaty of Union
The Treaty of Union is the name given to the agreement that led to the creation of the united kingdom of Great Britain, the political union of the Kingdom of England and the Kingdom of Scotland, which took effect on 1 May 1707...

 by both the Parliament of England
Parliament of England
The Parliament of England was the legislature of the Kingdom of England. In 1066, William of Normandy introduced a feudal system, by which he sought the advice of a council of tenants-in-chief and ecclesiastics before making laws...

 and Parliament of Scotland
Parliament of Scotland
The Parliament of Scotland, officially the Estates of Parliament, was the legislature of the Kingdom of Scotland. The unicameral parliament of Scotland is first found on record during the early 13th century, with the first meeting for which a primary source survives at...

 passing Acts of Union
Acts of Union 1707
The Acts of Union were two Parliamentary Acts - the Union with Scotland Act passed in 1706 by the Parliament of England, and the Union with England Act passed in 1707 by the Parliament of Scotland - which put into effect the terms of the Treaty of Union that had been agreed on 22 July 1706,...

. However, in practice the parliament was a continuation of the English parliament with the addition of Scottish MPs and peers. Parliament was further enlarged by the ratification by the Parliament of Great Britain
Parliament of Great Britain
The Parliament of Great Britain was formed in 1707 following the ratification of the Acts of Union by both the Parliament of England and Parliament of Scotland...

 and the Parliament of Ireland
Parliament of Ireland
The Parliament of Ireland was a legislature that existed in Dublin from 1297 until 1800. In its early mediaeval period during the Lordship of Ireland it consisted of either two or three chambers: the House of Commons, elected by a very restricted suffrage, the House of Lords in which the lords...

 of the Act of Union (1800), which abolished the Irish Parliament; this added 100 Irish members to the Commons and 32 to the Lords to create the Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. It has been called "the mother of parliaments", its democratic institutions having set the standards for many democracies throughout the world, and the United Kingdom parliament is the largest Anglophone legislative body in the world.

In theory, supreme legislative power is vested in the Queen-in-Parliament
Queen-in-Parliament
The Queen-in-Parliament , sometimes referred to as the Crown-in-Parliament or, more fully, as the King in Parliament under God, is a technical term of constitutional law in the Commonwealth realms that refers to the Crown in its legislative role, acting with the advice and consent of the lower...

; in practice in modern times, real power is vested in the House of Commons, as the Sovereign generally acts on the advice of the Prime Minister, and the powers of the House of Lords have been limited.

History

For earlier background see Parliament of England
Parliament of England
The Parliament of England was the legislature of the Kingdom of England. In 1066, William of Normandy introduced a feudal system, by which he sought the advice of a council of tenants-in-chief and ecclesiastics before making laws...

, Parliament of Scotland
Parliament of Scotland
The Parliament of Scotland, officially the Estates of Parliament, was the legislature of the Kingdom of Scotland. The unicameral parliament of Scotland is first found on record during the early 13th century, with the first meeting for which a primary source survives at...

, Parliament of Great Britain
Parliament of Great Britain
The Parliament of Great Britain was formed in 1707 following the ratification of the Acts of Union by both the Parliament of England and Parliament of Scotland...

, and Parliament of Ireland
Parliament of Ireland
The Parliament of Ireland was a legislature that existed in Dublin from 1297 until 1800. In its early mediaeval period during the Lordship of Ireland it consisted of either two or three chambers: the House of Commons, elected by a very restricted suffrage, the House of Lords in which the lords...

.

Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was the formal name of the United Kingdom during the period when what is now the Republic of Ireland formed a part of it....

 was created in 1801 by the merger of the Kingdoms of Great Britain
Kingdom of Great Britain
The former Kingdom of Great Britain, sometimes described as the 'United Kingdom of Great Britain', That the Two Kingdoms of Scotland and England, shall upon the 1st May next ensuing the date hereof, and forever after, be United into One Kingdom by the Name of GREAT BRITAIN. was a sovereign...

 and Ireland
Kingdom of Ireland
The Kingdom of Ireland refers to the country of Ireland in the period between the proclamation of Henry VIII as King of Ireland by the Crown of Ireland Act 1542 and the Act of Union in 1800. It replaced the Lordship of Ireland, which had been created in 1171...

 under the Act of Union
Act of Union 1800
The Acts of Union 1800 describe two complementary Acts, namely:* the Union with Ireland Act 1800 , an Act of the Parliament of Great Britain, and...

.

The principle of ministerial responsibility to the lower House did not develop until the 19th century—the House of Lords was superior to the House of Commons both in theory and in practice. Members of the House of Commons were elected in an antiquated electoral system, under which constituencies of vastly different sizes existed. Thus, the borough of Old Sarum
Old Sarum
Old Sarum is the site of the earliest settlement of Salisbury, in England. The site contains evidence of human habitation as early as 3000 BC. Old Sarum is mentioned in some of the earliest records in the country...

, with seven voters, could elect two members, as could the borough of Dunwich
Dunwich
Dunwich is a small town in Suffolk, England, within the Suffolk Coast and Heaths AONB.Dunwich was the capital of East Anglia 1500 years ago but the harbour and most of the town have since disappeared due to coastal erosion. Its decline began in 1286 when a sea surge hit the East Anglian coast, and...

, which had completely disappeared into the sea due to land erosion.

In many cases, members of the Upper House also controlled tiny constituencies, known as pocket or rotten borough
Rotten borough
A "rotten", "decayed" or pocket borough was a parliamentary borough or constituency in the United Kingdom that had a very small electorate and could be used by a patron to gain undue and unrepresentative influence within Parliament....

s, and could ensure the election of their relatives or supporters. Many seats in the House of Commons were "owned" by the Lords. After the reforms of the 19th century, beginning with the Reform Act 1832
Reform Act 1832
The Representation of the People Act 1832 was an Act of Parliament that introduced wide-ranging changes to the electoral system of England and Wales...

, the electoral system in the lower House was much more regularised. No longer dependent on the upper House for their seats, members of the House of Commons began to grow more assertive.
The supremacy of the British House of Commons was established in the early 20th century. In 1909, the Commons passed the so-called "People's Budget
People's Budget
The 1909 People's Budget was a product of then British Prime Minister H. H. Asquith's Liberal government, introducing many unprecedented taxes on the wealthy and radical social welfare programmes to Britain's political life...

", which made numerous changes to the taxation system in a manner detrimental to wealthy landowners. The House of Lords, which consisted mostly of powerful landowners, rejected the Budget. On the basis of the Budget's popularity and the Lords' consequent unpopularity, the Liberal Party
Liberal Party (UK)
The Liberal Party was one of the two major political parties of the United Kingdom during the 19th and early 20th centuries. It was a third party of negligible importance throughout the latter half of the 20th Century, before merging with the Social Democratic Party in 1988 to form the present day...

 narrowly won two general elections in 1910.

Using the result as a mandate, the Liberal Prime Minister, Herbert Henry Asquith, introduced the Parliament bill, which sought to restrict the powers of the House of Lords. (He did not reintroduce the land tax provision of the People's Budget). When the Lords refused to pass the bill, Asquith countered with a promise extracted from the King in secret before the second general election of 1910 and requested the creation of several hundred Liberal peers so as to erase the Conservative
Conservative Party (UK)
The Conservative Party, formally the Conservative and Unionist Party, is a centre-right political party in the United Kingdom that adheres to the philosophies of conservatism and British unionism. It is the largest political party in the UK, and is currently the largest single party in the House...

 majority in the House of Lords. In the face of such a threat, the House of Lords narrowly passed the bill.

The Parliament Act 1911
Parliament Act 1911
The Parliament Act 1911 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It is constitutionally important and partly governs the relationship between the House of Commons and the House of Lords which make up the Houses of Parliament. This Act must be construed as one with the Parliament Act 1949...

, as it became, prevented the Lords from blocking a money bill
Money bill
In the Westminster system , a money bill or supply bill is a bill that solely concerns taxation or government spending , as opposed to changes in public law.- Conventions :...

 (a bill dealing with tax
Tax
To tax is to impose a financial charge or other levy upon a taxpayer by a state or the functional equivalent of a state such that failure to pay is punishable by law. Taxes are also imposed by many subnational entities...

ation), and allowed them to delay any other bill for a maximum of three sessions (reduced to two sessions in 1949), after which it could become law over their objections. However, regardless of the Parliament Acts of 1911 and 1949, The House of Lords has always retained the unrestricted power to be able to block and veto any bill outright which attempts to extend the life of parliament if the Lords do not believe it to be appropriate, democratic or fitting. In this case, the Parliament Acts can not be used to override the decision of the House of Lords.

Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

The Government of Ireland Act 1920
Government of Ireland Act 1920
The Government of Ireland Act 1920 was the Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom which partitioned Ireland. The Act's long title was "An Act to provide for the better government of Ireland"; it is also known as the Fourth Home Rule Bill or as the Fourth Home Rule Act.The Act was intended...

 created the parliaments of Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland is one of the four countries of the United Kingdom. Situated in the north-east of the island of Ireland, it shares a border with the Republic of Ireland to the south and west...

 and Southern Ireland
Southern Ireland
Southern Ireland was a short-lived autonomous region of the United Kingdom established on 3 May 1921 and dissolved on 6 December 1922.Southern Ireland was established under the Government of Ireland Act 1920 together with its sister region, Northern Ireland...

 and reduced the representation of both parts at Westminster. (The number of Northern Ireland seats was increased again after the introduction of direct rule
Direct Rule
Direct rule was the term given, during the late 20th and early 21st centuries, to the administration of Northern Ireland directly from Westminster, seat of United Kingdom government...

 in 1973.) The Irish Free State
Irish Free State
The Irish Free State was the state established as a Dominion on 6 December 1922 under the Anglo-Irish Treaty, signed by the British government and Irish representatives exactly twelve months beforehand...

 became independent in 1922, and in 1927 parliament was renamed the Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Further reforms to the House of Lords have been made during the 20th century. The Life Peerages Act 1958
Life Peerages Act 1958
The Life Peerages Act 1958 established the modern standards for the creation of life peers by the monarch of the United Kingdom. Life peers are barons and are members of the House of Lords for life, but their titles and membership in the Lords are not inherited by their children. Judicial life...

 authorised the regular creation of life peerage dignities. By the 1960s, the regular creation of hereditary peerage dignities had ceased; thereafter, almost all new peers were life peers only.

More recently, the House of Lords Act 1999
House of Lords Act 1999
The House of Lords Act 1999 was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that was given Royal Assent on 11 November 1999. The Act reformed the House of Lords, one of the chambers of Parliament. For centuries, the House of Lords had included several hundred members who inherited their seats;...

 removed the automatic right of hereditary peers to sit in the Upper House (although it made an exception for 92 of them on a temporary basis, to be elected to life-terms by the other hereditary peers with by-elections upon their death). The House of Lords is now a chamber that is subordinate to the House of Commons. Additionally, the Constitutional Reform Act 2005
Constitutional Reform Act 2005
The Constitutional Reform Act 2005 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It provided for a Supreme Court of the United Kingdom to take over the existing role of the Law Lords as well as some powers of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, and removed the functions of Speaker of...

 led to abolition of the judicial functions of the House of Lords
Judicial functions of the House of Lords
The House of Lords, in addition to having a legislative function, historically also had a judicial function. It functioned as a court of first instance for the trials of peers, for impeachment cases, and as a court of last resort within the United Kingdom. In the latter case the House's...

 with the creation of the new Supreme Court of the United Kingdom
Supreme Court of the United Kingdom
The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom is the supreme court in all matters under English law, Northern Ireland law and Scottish civil law. It is the court of last resort and highest appellate court in the United Kingdom; however the High Court of Justiciary remains the supreme court for criminal...

 in October 2009.

Composition and powers

The legislative authority, the Crown-in-Parliament, has three separate elements: the Monarch
Monarch
A monarch is the person who heads a monarchy. This is a form of government in which a state or polity is ruled or controlled by an individual who typically inherits the throne by birth and occasionally rules for life or until abdication...

, the House of Lords
House of Lords
The House of Lords is the upper house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Like the House of Commons, it meets in the Palace of Westminster....

, and the House of Commons. No individual may be a member of both Houses, and members of the House of Lords are legally barred from voting in elections for members of the House of Commons.

Royal Assent
Royal Assent
The granting of royal assent refers to the method by which any constitutional monarch formally approves and promulgates an act of his or her nation's parliament, thus making it a law...

 of the Monarch is required for all Bills to become law, and certain Delegated Legislation must be made by the Monarch by Order in Council. The Crown also has executive powers which do not depend on Parliament, through prerogative powers
Royal Prerogative
The royal prerogative is a body of customary authority, privilege, and immunity, recognized in common law and, sometimes, in civil law jurisdictions possessing a monarchy as belonging to the sovereign alone. It is the means by which some of the executive powers of government, possessed by and...

, which include among others the ability to dissolve Parliament
Dissolution of the United Kingdom Parliament
The Parliament of the United Kingdom is dissolved 17 days before a polling day as determined by the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011.Members of Parliament cease to be so, as soon as it is dissolved, and, although they and their staff continue to be paid until polling day, they may not enter the...

, make treaties, declare war, award honours, and appoint officers and civil servants. In practice these are always exercised by the monarch on the advice of the Prime Minister
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the Head of Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom. The Prime Minister and Cabinet are collectively accountable for their policies and actions to the Sovereign, to Parliament, to their political party and...

 and the other ministers of HM Government. The Prime Minister and government are directly accountable to Parliament, through its control of public finances, and to the public, through election of Members of Parliament.

The Monarch also chooses the Prime Minister, who then forms a government from members of the houses of parliament. This must be someone who could command a majority in a confidence vote in the House of Commons. In the recent past the monarch has had to make a judgment, as in the appointment of Alec Douglas-Home
Alec Douglas-Home
Alexander Frederick Douglas-Home, Baron Home of the Hirsel, KT, PC , known as The Earl of Home from 1951 to 1963 and as Sir Alec Douglas-Home from 1963 to 1974, was a British Conservative politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from October 1963 to October 1964.He is the last...

 in 1963 when it was thought that the incumbent Prime Minister, Harold Macmillan
Harold Macmillan
Maurice Harold Macmillan, 1st Earl of Stockton, OM, PC was Conservative Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 10 January 1957 to 18 October 1963....

, had become ill with terminal cancer. However, today the monarch is advised by the outgoing Prime Minister as to whom she should offer the position next.

The Upper House is formally styled The Right Honourable The Lords Spiritual and Temporal in Parliament Assembled, the Lords Spiritual being bishops of the Church of England
Church of England
The Church of England is the officially established Christian church in England and the Mother Church of the worldwide Anglican Communion. The church considers itself within the tradition of Western Christianity and dates its formal establishment principally to the mission to England by St...

 and the Lords Temporal being Peers of the Realm
Peerage
The Peerage is a legal system of largely hereditary titles in the United Kingdom, which constitute the ranks of British nobility and is part of the British honours system...

. The Lords Spiritual and Lords Temporal are considered separate "estates
Estates of the realm
The Estates of the realm were the broad social orders of the hierarchically conceived society, recognized in the Middle Ages and Early Modern period in Christian Europe; they are sometimes distinguished as the three estates: the clergy, the nobility, and commoners, and are often referred to by...

", but they sit, debate and vote together.

Since the Parliament Acts 1911 and 1949
Parliament Acts 1911 and 1949
The Parliament Acts 1911 and 1949 are two Acts of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, which form part of the constitution of the United Kingdom. Section 2 of the Parliament Act 1949 provides that that Act and the Parliament Act 1911 are to be construed as one.The Parliament Act 1911 The...

, the powers of the House of Lords have been very much less than those of the House of Commons. All bills except money bills are debated and voted upon in House of Lords; however by voting against a bill, the House of Lords can only delay it for a maximum of two parliamentary sessions over a year. After this time, the House of Commons can force the Bill through without the Lords' consent under the Parliament Acts. The House of Lords can also hold the government to account through questions to government ministers and the operation of a small number of select committees. The highest court in England & Wales and Northern Ireland used to be a committee of the House of Lords, but it became an independent supreme court
Supreme Court of the United Kingdom
The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom is the supreme court in all matters under English law, Northern Ireland law and Scottish civil law. It is the court of last resort and highest appellate court in the United Kingdom; however the High Court of Justiciary remains the supreme court for criminal...

 in 2009.

The Lords Spiritual formerly included all of the senior clergymen of the Church of England—archbishops, bishops, abbots and mitred priors. Upon the Dissolution of the Monasteries under Henry VIII the abbots and mitred priors lost their positions in Parliament. All diocesan bishops continued to sit in Parliament, but the Bishopric of Manchester Act 1847, and later acts, provide that only the 26 most senior are Lords Spiritual. These always include the incumbents of the "five great sees
Episcopal See
An episcopal see is, in the original sense, the official seat of a bishop. This seat, which is also referred to as the bishop's cathedra, is placed in the bishop's principal church, which is therefore called the bishop's cathedral...

", namely the Archbishop of Canterbury
Archbishop of Canterbury
The Archbishop of Canterbury is the senior bishop and principal leader of the Church of England, the symbolic head of the worldwide Anglican Communion, and the diocesan bishop of the Diocese of Canterbury. In his role as head of the Anglican Communion, the archbishop leads the third largest group...

, the Archbishop of York
Archbishop of York
The Archbishop of York is a high-ranking cleric in the Church of England, second only to the Archbishop of Canterbury. He is the diocesan bishop of the Diocese of York and metropolitan of the Province of York, which covers the northern portion of England as well as the Isle of Man...

, the Bishop of London
Bishop of London
The Bishop of London is the ordinary of the Church of England Diocese of London in the Province of Canterbury.The diocese covers 458 km² of 17 boroughs of Greater London north of the River Thames and a small part of the County of Surrey...

, the Bishop of Durham and the Bishop of Winchester
Bishop of Winchester
The Bishop of Winchester is the head of the Church of England diocese of Winchester, with his cathedra at Winchester Cathedral in Hampshire.The bishop is one of five Church of England bishops to be among the Lords Spiritual regardless of their length of service. His diocese is one of the oldest and...

. The remaining 21 Lords Spiritual are the most senior diocesan bishops, ranked in order of consecration
Consecration
Consecration is the solemn dedication to a special purpose or service, usually religious. The word "consecration" literally means "to associate with the sacred". Persons, places, or things can be consecrated, and the term is used in various ways by different groups...

.

The Lords Temporal are all members of the Peerage
Peerage
The Peerage is a legal system of largely hereditary titles in the United Kingdom, which constitute the ranks of British nobility and is part of the British honours system...

. Formerly, they were hereditary peers. The right of some hereditary peers to sit in Parliament was not automatic: after Scotland and England united into Great Britain in 1707, it was provided that all peers whose dignities had been created by English Kings could sit in Parliament, but those whose dignities had been created by Scottish Kings were to elect a limited number of "representative peers". A similar arrangement was made in respect of Ireland when that nation was subjugated by Great Britain in 1801, but when southern Ireland left the United Kingdom in 1922 the election of Irish representative peers ceased. By the Peerage Act 1963
Peerage Act 1963
The Peerage Act 1963 is the Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that permitted peeresses in their own right and all Scottish hereditary peers to sit in the House of Lords, and which allows newly inherited hereditary peerages to be "disclaimed".-Background:The Act resulted largely from the...

, the election of Scottish representative peers also ended, and all Scottish peers were granted the right to sit in Parliament. Under the House of Lords Act 1999, only life peerages (that is to say, peerage dignities which cannot be inherited) automatically entitle their holders to seats in the House of Lords. Of the hereditary peers, only 92—the Earl Marshal
Earl Marshal
Earl Marshal is a hereditary royal officeholder and chivalric title under the sovereign of the United Kingdom used in England...

, the Lord Great Chamberlain
Lord Great Chamberlain
The Lord Great Chamberlain of England is the sixth of the Great Officers of State, ranking beneath the Lord Privy Seal and above the Lord High Constable...

 and the 90 elected by other peers—retain their seats in the House.

The Commons, the last of the "estates" of the Kingdom, are represented in the House of Commons, which is formally styled The Honourable The Commons in Parliament Assembled (commons coming not from the term commoner, but from , the old French term for a district). The House currently consists of 650 members. Each "Member of Parliament" or "MP" is chosen by a single constituency according to the First-Past-the-Post electoral system. Universal adult suffrage
Suffrage
Suffrage, political franchise, or simply the franchise, distinct from mere voting rights, is the civil right to vote gained through the democratic process...

 exists for those 18 and over; citizens of the United Kingdom, and those of the Republic of Ireland
Republic of Ireland
Ireland , described as the Republic of Ireland , is a sovereign state in Europe occupying approximately five-sixths of the island of the same name. Its capital is Dublin. Ireland, which had a population of 4.58 million in 2011, is a constitutional republic governed as a parliamentary democracy,...

 and Commonwealth nations
Commonwealth of Nations
The Commonwealth of Nations, normally referred to as the Commonwealth and formerly known as the British Commonwealth, is an intergovernmental organisation of fifty-four independent member states...

 resident in the United Kingdom are qualified to vote, unless they are in prison at the time of the elections. The term of members of the House of Commons depends on the term of Parliament, a maximum of five years; a general election, during which all the seats are contested, occurs after each dissolution (see below).

All legislation must be passed by the House of Commons to become law and it controls taxation and the supply of money to the government. Government ministers (including the Prime Minister) must regularly answer questions in the House of Commons and there are a number of select committees that scrutinise particular issues and the workings of the government. There are also mechanisms that allow members of the House of Commons to bring to the attention of the government particular issues affecting their constituents.

State Opening

The State Opening of Parliament is an annual event that marks the commencement of a session of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It is held in the House of Lords
House of Lords
The House of Lords is the upper house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Like the House of Commons, it meets in the Palace of Westminster....

 Chamber, usually in November or December, or in a general election
General election
In a parliamentary political system, a general election is an election in which all or most members of a given political body are chosen. The term is usually used to refer to elections held for a nation's primary legislative body, as distinguished from by-elections and local elections.The term...

 year, when the new Parliament first assembles.

The monarch reads a prepared speech, known as the Speech from the Throne
Speech from the Throne
A speech from the throne is an event in certain monarchies in which the reigning sovereign reads a prepared speech to a complete session of parliament, outlining the government's agenda for the coming session...

, outlining the Government's agenda for the coming year. The speech is not written by the monarch, but rather by the Cabinet
Cabinet (government)
A Cabinet is a body of high ranking government officials, typically representing the executive branch. It can also sometimes be referred to as the Council of Ministers, an Executive Council, or an Executive Committee.- Overview :...

, and reflects the legislative agenda for which they seek the agreement of both Houses of Parliament.

After the monarch leaves, each Chamber proceeds to the consideration of an "Address in Reply to Her Majesty's Gracious Speech." But first, each House considers a bill pro forma
Pro forma
The term pro forma is a term applied to practices or documents that are done as a pure formality, perfunctory, or seek to satisfy the minimum requirements or to conform to a convention or doctrine...

to symbolise their right to deliberate independently of the monarch. In the House of Lords, the bill is called the Select Vestries Bill
Select Vestries Bill
A bill for the better regulating of Select Vestries, usually referred to as the Select Vestries Bill, is customarily the first bill introduced and debated in the United Kingdom's House of Lords at the start of each session of Parliament...

, while the Commons equivalent is the Outlawries Bill
Outlawries Bill
A Bill for the more effectual preventing clandestine Outlawries, usually referred as Outlawries Bill, is customarily the first bill on the agenda of the United Kingdom's House of Commons at the start of each session of Parliament.-Ceremonial purpose:...

. The Bills are considered for the sake of form only, and do not make any actual progress.

Procedure

See also the stages of a bill section in Acts of Parliament in the United Kingdom
Acts of Parliament in the United Kingdom
An Act of Parliament in the United Kingdom is a type of legislation called primary legislation. These Acts are passed by the Parliament of the United Kingdom at Westminster, or by the Scottish Parliament at Edinburgh....


Both houses of the British Parliament are presided over by a speaker, the Speaker of the House
Speaker of the British House of Commons
The Speaker of the House of Commons is the presiding officer of the House of Commons, the United Kingdom's lower chamber of Parliament. The current Speaker is John Bercow, who was elected on 22 June 2009, following the resignation of Michael Martin...

 for the Commons and the Lord Speaker
Lord Speaker
The Lord Speaker is the speaker of the House of Lords in the Parliament of the United Kingdom. The office is analogous to the Speaker of the House of Commons: the Lord Speaker is elected by the members of the House of Lords and is expected to be politically impartial.Until July 2006, the role of...

 in the House of Lords.

For the Commons, the approval of the Sovereign is theoretically required before the election of the Speaker becomes valid, but it is, by modern convention, always granted. The Speaker's place may be taken by three deputies, known as the Chairman, First Deputy Chairman and Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means
Chairman of Ways and Means
In the United Kingdom, the Chairman of Ways and Means is a senior member of the House of Commons who acts as one of the Speaker's three deputies...

. (They take their name from the Committee of Ways and Means, of which they were once presiding officers, but which no longer exists.)

Prior to July 2006, the House of Lords was presided over by a Lord Chancellor
Lord Chancellor
The Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain, or Lord Chancellor, is a senior and important functionary in the government of the United Kingdom. He is the second highest ranking of the Great Officers of State, ranking only after the Lord High Steward. The Lord Chancellor is appointed by the Sovereign...

 (a Cabinet member), whose influence as Speaker was very limited (whilst the powers belonging to the Speaker of the House of Commons are vast). However, as part of the Constitutional Reform Act 2005
Constitutional Reform Act 2005
The Constitutional Reform Act 2005 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It provided for a Supreme Court of the United Kingdom to take over the existing role of the Law Lords as well as some powers of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, and removed the functions of Speaker of...

, the position of Speaker of the House of Lords (as it is termed in the Act) was separated from the office of Lord Chancellor (the office which has control over the judiciary as a whole), though the Lords remain largely self-governing. Decisions on points of order and on the disciplining of unruly members are made by the whole body in the Upper House, but by the Speaker alone in the Lower House. Speeches in the House of Lords are addressed to the House as a whole (using the words "My Lords"), but those in the House of Commons are addressed to the Speaker alone (using "Mr Speaker" or "Madam Speaker"). Speeches may be made to both Houses simultaneously. As of June 2011, Barack Obama was the most recent person to address both Houses.

Both Houses may decide questions by voice vote
Voice vote
A voice vote is a voting method used by deliberative assemblies in which a vote is taken on a topic or motion by responding verbally....

; members shout out "Aye" and "No" in the Commons—or "Content" and "Not-Content" in the Lords—and the presiding officer declares the result. The pronouncement of either Speaker may be challenged, and a recorded vote (known as a division
Division (vote)
In parliamentary procedure, a division of the assembly is a voting method in which the members of the assembly take a rising vote or go to different parts of the chamber, literally dividing into groups indicating a vote in favour of or in opposition to a motion on the floor...

) demanded. (The Speaker of the House of Commons may choose to overrule a frivolous request for a division, but the Lord Speaker does not have that power). In each House, a division requires members to file into one of the two lobbies alongside the Chamber; their names are recorded by clerks, and their votes are counted as they exit the lobbies to re-enter the Chamber. The Speaker of the House of Commons is expected to be non-partisan, and does not cast a vote except in the case of a tie; the Lord Speaker, however, votes along with the other Lords.

Both Houses normally conduct their business in public, and there are galleries where visitors may sit.

Term

Following a general election, a new Parliamentary session begins. Parliament is formally summoned 40 days in advance by the Sovereign, who is the source of parliamentary authority. On the day indicated by the Sovereign's proclamation, the two Houses assemble in their respective chambers. The Commons are then summoned to the House of Lords, where Lords Commissioners
Lords Commissioners
The Lords Commissioners are Privy Counsellors appointed by the Monarch of the United Kingdom to exercise, on his or her behalf, certain functions relating to Parliament which would otherwise require the monarch's attendance at the Palace of Westminster...

 (representatives of the Sovereign) instruct them to elect a Speaker. The Commons perform the election; on the next day, they return to the House of Lords, where the Lords Commissioners confirm the election and grant the new Speaker the royal approval in the Sovereign's name.

The business of Parliament for the next few days of its session involves the taking of the oaths of allegiance. Once a majority of the members has taken the oath in each House, the State Opening of Parliament may occur. The Lords take their seats in the House of Lords Chamber, the Commons appear at the Bar (immediately outside the Chamber), and the Sovereign takes his or her seat on the throne. The Sovereign then reads the Speech from the Throne
Speech from the Throne
A speech from the throne is an event in certain monarchies in which the reigning sovereign reads a prepared speech to a complete session of parliament, outlining the government's agenda for the coming session...

—the content of which is determined by the Ministers of the Crown—outlining the Government's legislative agenda for the upcoming year. Thereafter, each House proceeds to the transaction of legislative business.

By custom, before considering the Government's legislative agenda, a bill is introduced pro forma in each House—the Select Vestries Bill
Select Vestries Bill
A bill for the better regulating of Select Vestries, usually referred to as the Select Vestries Bill, is customarily the first bill introduced and debated in the United Kingdom's House of Lords at the start of each session of Parliament...

 in the House of Lords and the Outlawries Bill
Outlawries Bill
A Bill for the more effectual preventing clandestine Outlawries, usually referred as Outlawries Bill, is customarily the first bill on the agenda of the United Kingdom's House of Commons at the start of each session of Parliament.-Ceremonial purpose:...

 in the House of Commons. These bills do not become laws; they are ceremonial indications of the power of each House to debate independently of the Crown. After the pro forma bill is introduced, each House debates the content of the Speech from the Throne for several days. Once each House formally sends its reply to the Speech, legislative business may commence, appointing committees, electing officers, passing resolutions and considering legislation.

A session of Parliament is brought to an end by a prorogation. There is a ceremony similar to the State Opening, but much less well-known. Normally, the Sovereign does not personally attend the prorogation ceremony in the House of Lords; he or she is represented by Lords Commissioners. The next session of Parliament begins under the procedures described above, but it is not necessary to conduct another election of a Speaker or take the oaths of allegiance afresh at the beginning of such subsequent sessions. Instead, the State Opening of Parliament proceeds directly. To avoid the delay of opening a new session in the event of an emergency during the long summer recess, Parliament is no longer prorogued beforehand, but only after the Houses have reconvened in the autumn; the State Opening follows a few days later.

Each Parliament comes to an end, after a number of sessions, in anticipation of a general election. Parliament is dissolved by virtue of the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011. Prior to it, dissolution was effected by the Sovereign, always on the advice of the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister could seek dissolution because the time was politically advantageous to his or her party. If the Prime Minister loses the support of the House of Commons, Parliament will dissolve and a new election will be held. Parliaments can also be dissolved if two thirds of the House of Commons votes for an early election.

Originally there was no fixed limit on the length of a Parliament, but the Triennial Act 1694 set the maximum duration at three years. As the frequent elections were deemed inconvenient, the Septennial Act 1715
Septennial Act 1715
The Septennial Act 1715 was an Act of the Parliament of Great Britain. It was passed in May 1716. It increased the maximum length of a parliament from three years to seven...

 extended the maximum to seven years, but the Parliament Act 1911
Parliament Act 1911
The Parliament Act 1911 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It is constitutionally important and partly governs the relationship between the House of Commons and the House of Lords which make up the Houses of Parliament. This Act must be construed as one with the Parliament Act 1949...

 reduced it to five. During the Second World War
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, the term was temporarily extended to ten years by Acts of Parliament. Since the end of the war the maximum has remained five years. Modern Parliaments, however, rarely continued for the maximum duration; normally, they were dissolved earlier. For instance, the 52nd, which assembled in 1997, was dissolved after four years. The Septennial Act was repealed by the Fixed-term Parliaments Act.

Formerly, the demise of the Sovereign automatically brought a Parliament to an end, the Crown being seen as the (beginning, basis and end) of the body, but this is no longer the case. The first change was during the reign of William and Mary, when it was seen to be inconvenient to have no Parliament at a time when succession to the Crown could be disputed, and an act was passed that provided that a Parliament was to continue for six months after the death of a Sovereign, unless dissolved earlier. (This provision is today contained in the Representation of the People Act 1867.)

After each Parliament concludes, the Crown issues writs to hold a general election and elect new members of the House of Commons though membership of the House of Lords does not change due to dissolution.

Legislative functions

Laws can be made by Acts of the United Kingdom Parliament. While Acts can apply to the whole of the United Kingdom including Scotland, due to the continuing separation of Scots law
Scots law
Scots law is the legal system of Scotland. It is considered a hybrid or mixed legal system as it traces its roots to a number of different historical sources. With English law and Northern Irish law it forms the legal system of the United Kingdom; it shares with the two other systems some...

 many Acts do not apply to Scotland and are either matched by equivalent Acts that apply to Scotland alone or, since 1999, by legislation set by the Scottish Parliament
Scottish Parliament
The Scottish Parliament is the devolved national, unicameral legislature of Scotland, located in the Holyrood area of the capital, Edinburgh. The Parliament, informally referred to as "Holyrood", is a democratically elected body comprising 129 members known as Members of the Scottish Parliament...

 relating to devolved matters.

This has led to a paradox known as the West Lothian question
West Lothian question
The West Lothian question refers to issues concerning the ability of Members of Parliament from constituencies in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales to vote on matters that only affect people living in England...

. The existence of a devolved Scottish Parliament means that while Westminster MPs from Scotland may vote directly on matters that affect English constituencies, they may not have much power over their laws affecting their own constituency. While any Act of the Scottish Parliament may be overturned, amended or ignored by Westminster, in practice this has yet to happen. Furthermore, the existence of the Legislative Consent Motion enables English MPs to vote on issues nominally devolved to Scotland, as part of United Kingdom legislation. Since there is no devolved "English Parliament", the converse is not true.

Laws, in draft form known as bills, may be introduced by any member of either House, but usually a bill is introduced by a Minister of the Crown. A bill introduced by a Minister is known as a "Government Bill"; one introduced by another member is called a "Private Member's Bill
Private Member's Bill
A member of parliament’s legislative motion, called a private member's bill or a member's bill in some parliaments, is a proposed law introduced by a member of a legislature. In most countries with a parliamentary system, most bills are proposed by the government, not by individual members of the...

". A different way of categorising bills involves the subject. Most bills, involving the general public, are called "Public Bill
Public bill
In the legislative process, a public bill is a bill which proposes a law of general application throughout the jurisdiction in which it is proposed, and which if enacted will hence become a public law or public act....

s". A bill that seeks to grant special rights to an individual or small group of individuals, or a body such as a local authority, is called a "Private Bill
Local and Personal Acts of Parliament in the United Kingdom
Local and Personal Acts of Parliament are laws in the United Kingdom which apply to a particular individual or group of individuals, or corporate entity. This contrasts with a Public General Act of Parliament which applies to the entire community...

". A Public Bill which affects private rights (in the way a Private Bill would) is called a "Hybrid Bill
Hybrid bill
In the United Kingdom, a hybrid bill is a public bill which affects the private interests of a particular person or organization. It is generally initiated by the Government on behalf of non-Parliamentary bodies such as local authorities and is treated like a private bill for the beginning of its...

".

Private Members' Bills make up the majority of bills, but are far less likely to be passed than government bills. There are three methods for an MP to introduce a Private Member's Bill. The Private Members' Ballot (once per Session) put names into a ballot, and those who win are given time to propose a bill. The Ten Minute Rule
Ten Minute Rule
The Ten Minute Rule, also known as Standing Order No. 23, is a procedure in the British Parliament for the introduction of Private Member's Bills in addition to the 20 per session normally permissible. It is one of the ways in which a bill may receive its first reading.Any MP may introduce a bill...

 is another method, where MPs are granted ten minutes to outline the case for a new piece of legislation. Standing Order 57 is the third method, which allows a bill to be introduced without debate if a day's notice is given to the Table Office. Filibuster
Filibuster
A filibuster is a type of parliamentary procedure. Specifically, it is the right of an individual to extend debate, allowing a lone member to delay or entirely prevent a vote on a given proposal...

ing is a danger, as an opponent to a bill can waste much of the limited time allotted to it. Private Members' Bills have no chance of success if the current government opposes them, but they are used in moral issues: the bills to decriminalise homosexuality
Homosexuality
Homosexuality is romantic or sexual attraction or behavior between members of the same sex or gender. As a sexual orientation, homosexuality refers to "an enduring pattern of or disposition to experience sexual, affectional, or romantic attractions" primarily or exclusively to people of the same...

 and abortion
Abortion
Abortion is defined as the termination of pregnancy by the removal or expulsion from the uterus of a fetus or embryo prior to viability. An abortion can occur spontaneously, in which case it is usually called a miscarriage, or it can be purposely induced...

 were Private Members' Bills, for example. Governments can sometimes attempt to use Private Members' Bills to pass things it would rather not be associated with. "Handout bills" are bills which a government hands to MPs who win Private Members' Ballots.

Each Bill goes through several stages in each House. The first stage, called the first reading, is a formality. At the second reading, the general principles of the bill are debated, and the House may vote to reject the bill, by not passing the motion "That the Bill be now read a second time". Defeats of Government Bills are extremely rare, the last being in 2005.

Following the second reading, the bill is sent to a committee. In the House of Lords, the Committee of the Whole House
Committee of the Whole House
In the United Kingdom House of Commons, the Committee of the Whole House is used instead of a standing committee for the clause-by-clause debate of important or contentious bills...

 or the Grand Committee
Grand committee
- In Finland :The Grand Committee is a committee of the Parliament of Finland. It has special tasks related to Finland's membership in the European Union. It formulates the opinion of the parliament in questions of EU legislation...

 are used. Each consists of all members of the House; the latter operates under special procedures, and is used only for uncontroversial bills. In the House of Commons, the bill is usually committed to a Public Bill Committee, consisting of between 16 and 50 members, but the Committee of the Whole House is used for important legislation. Several other types of committees, including Select Committees, may be used, but rarely. A committee considers the bill clause by clause, and reports the bill as amended to the House, where further detailed consideration ("consideration stage" or "report stage") occurs. However, a practice which used to be called the kangaroo (Standing Order 32) allows the Speaker to select which amendments are debated. This device is also used under Standing Order 89 by the committee chairman, to restrict debate in committee.

Once the House has considered the bill, the third reading follows. In the House of Commons, no further amendments may be made, and the passage of the motion "That the Bill be now read a third time" is passage of the whole bill. In the House of Lords further amendments to the bill may be moved. After the passage of the third reading motion, the House of Lords must vote on the motion "That the Bill do now pass." Following its passage in one House, the bill is sent to the other House. If passed in identical form by both Houses, it may be presented for the Sovereign's Assent. If one House passes amendments that the other will not agree to, and the two Houses cannot resolve their disagreements, the bill fails.

However, since the passage of the Parliament Act 1911 the power of the House of Lords to reject bills passed by the House of Commons has been restricted, and further restrictions were placed by the Parliament Act 1949. If the House of Commons passes a public bill in two successive sessions, and the House of Lords rejects it both times, the Commons may direct that the bill be presented to the Sovereign for his or her Assent, disregarding the rejection of the Bill in the House of Lords. In each case, the bill must be passed by the House of Commons at least one calendar month before the end of the session. The provision does not apply to bills originated in the House of Lords, to bills seeking to extend the duration of a Parliament beyond five years, or to Private Bills. A special procedure applies in relation to bills classified by the Speaker of the House of Commons as "Money Bills". A Money Bill concerns solely national taxation or public funds; the Speaker's certificate is deemed conclusive under all circumstances. If the House of Lords fails to pass a Money Bill within one month of its passage in the House of Commons, the Lower House may direct that the Bill be submitted for the Sovereign's Assent immediately.

Even before the passage of the Parliament Acts, the Commons possessed pre-eminence in cases of financial matters. By ancient custom, the House of Lords may not introduce a bill relating to taxation or Supply
Westminster System
The Westminster system is a democratic parliamentary system of government modelled after the politics of the United Kingdom. This term comes from the Palace of Westminster, the seat of the Parliament of the United Kingdom....

, nor amend a bill so as to insert a provision relating to taxation or Supply, nor amend a Supply Bill in any way. The House of Commons is free to waive this privilege, and sometimes does so to allow the House of Lords to pass amendments with financial implications. The House of Lords remains free to reject bills relating to Supply and taxation, but may be overruled easily if the bills are Money Bills. (A bill relating to revenue and Supply may not be a Money Bill if, for example, it includes subjects other than national taxation and public funds).

The last stage of a bill involves the granting of the Royal Assent
Royal Assent
The granting of royal assent refers to the method by which any constitutional monarch formally approves and promulgates an act of his or her nation's parliament, thus making it a law...

. Theoretically, the Sovereign may either grant the Royal Assent (that is, make the bill a law) or withhold it (that is, veto the bill). Under modern conventions the Sovereign always grants the Royal Assent, in the Norman French
Anglo-Norman
The Anglo-Normans were mainly the descendants of the Normans who ruled England following the Norman conquest by William the Conqueror in 1066. A small number of Normans were already settled in England prior to the conquest...

 words "" (the Queen wishes it; "Le roy" instead in the case of a king). The last refusal to grant the Assent was in 1708, when Queen Anne
Anne of Great Britain
Anne ascended the thrones of England, Scotland and Ireland on 8 March 1702. On 1 May 1707, under the Act of Union, two of her realms, England and Scotland, were united as a single sovereign state, the Kingdom of Great Britain.Anne's Catholic father, James II and VII, was deposed during the...

 withheld her Assent from a bill "for the settling of Militia in Scotland", in the words "" (the Queen will think it over).

Thus, every bill obtains the assent of all three components of Parliament before it becomes law (except where the House of Lords is over-ridden under the Parliament Acts 1911 and 1949
Parliament Acts 1911 and 1949
The Parliament Acts 1911 and 1949 are two Acts of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, which form part of the constitution of the United Kingdom. Section 2 of the Parliament Act 1949 provides that that Act and the Parliament Act 1911 are to be construed as one.The Parliament Act 1911 The...

). The words "BE IT ENACTED by the Queen's [King's] most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:-", or, where the House of Lords' authority has been overridden by use of the Parliament Acts, the words "BE IT ENACTED by The Queen's [King's] most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Commons in this present Parliament assembled, in accordance with the provisions of the Parliament Acts 1911 and 1949, and by the authority of the same, as follows:-" appear near the beginning of each Act of Parliament. These words are known as the enacting formula.

Judicial functions

Prior to the creation of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom
Supreme Court of the United Kingdom
The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom is the supreme court in all matters under English law, Northern Ireland law and Scottish civil law. It is the court of last resort and highest appellate court in the United Kingdom; however the High Court of Justiciary remains the supreme court for criminal...

 in October 2009, Parliament also used to perform several judicial functions. The Queen-in-Parliament constituted the highest court in the realm for most purposes, but the Privy Council
Privy Council of the United Kingdom
Her Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Council, usually known simply as the Privy Council, is a formal body of advisers to the Sovereign in the United Kingdom...

 had jurisdiction in some cases (for instance, appeals from ecclesiastical courts). The jurisdiction of Parliament arose from the ancient custom of petitioning the Houses to redress grievances and to do justice. The House of Commons ceased considering petitions to reverse the judgements of lower courts in 1399, effectively leaving the House of Lords as the court of last resort. In modern times, the judicial functions of the House of Lords
Judicial functions of the House of Lords
The House of Lords, in addition to having a legislative function, historically also had a judicial function. It functioned as a court of first instance for the trials of peers, for impeachment cases, and as a court of last resort within the United Kingdom. In the latter case the House's...

 were performed not by the whole House, but by a group of "Lords of Appeal in Ordinary" (judges granted life peerage dignities under the Appellate Jurisdiction Act 1876
Appellate Jurisdiction Act 1876
The Appellate Jurisdiction Act 1876 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that altered the judicial functions of the House of Lords. The act was repealed by the Constitutional Reform Act 2005, which transferred the judicial functions from the House of Lords to the Supreme Court of the...

 by the Sovereign) and by "Lords of Appeal" (other peers with experience in the judiciary). However, under the Constitutional Reform Act 2005
Constitutional Reform Act 2005
The Constitutional Reform Act 2005 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It provided for a Supreme Court of the United Kingdom to take over the existing role of the Law Lords as well as some powers of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, and removed the functions of Speaker of...

, these judicial functions were transferred to the newly created Supreme Court
Supreme Court of the United Kingdom
The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom is the supreme court in all matters under English law, Northern Ireland law and Scottish civil law. It is the court of last resort and highest appellate court in the United Kingdom; however the High Court of Justiciary remains the supreme court for criminal...

 in 2009, and the Lords of Appeal in Ordinary became the first Justices of the Court. Peers who hold high judicial office are no longer allowed to vote or speak in the Lords until they retire as Justices.

In the late 19th century, Acts allowed for the appointment of Scottish Lords of Appeal in Ordinary and ended appeal in Scottish criminal matters to the House of Lords, so that the High Court of Justiciary
High Court of Justiciary
The High Court of Justiciary is the supreme criminal court of Scotland.The High Court is both a court of first instance and a court of appeal. As a court of first instance, the High Court sits mainly in Parliament House, or in the former Sheriff Court building, in Edinburgh, but also sits from time...

 became the highest criminal court in Scotland
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

. Nowadays the House of Lords legislative committee usually has a minimum of two Scottish Judges to ensure that some experience of Scots law
Scots law
Scots law is the legal system of Scotland. It is considered a hybrid or mixed legal system as it traces its roots to a number of different historical sources. With English law and Northern Irish law it forms the legal system of the United Kingdom; it shares with the two other systems some...

 is brought to bear on Scottish appeals in civil cases, from the Court of Session
Court of Session
The Court of Session is the supreme civil court of Scotland, and constitutes part of the College of Justice. It sits in Parliament House in Edinburgh and is both a court of first instance and a court of appeal....

.

Certain other judicial functions have historically been performed by the House of Lords. Until 1948, it was the body in which peers had to be tried for felonies
Felony
A felony is a serious crime in the common law countries. The term originates from English common law where felonies were originally crimes which involved the confiscation of a convicted person's land and goods; other crimes were called misdemeanors...

 or high treason
High treason
High treason is criminal disloyalty to one's government. Participating in a war against one's native country, attempting to overthrow its government, spying on its military, its diplomats, or its secret services for a hostile and foreign power, or attempting to kill its head of state are perhaps...

; now, they are tried by normal juries. When the House of Commons impeaches
Impeachment
Impeachment is a formal process in which an official is accused of unlawful activity, the outcome of which, depending on the country, may include the removal of that official from office as well as other punishment....

 an individual, the trial takes place in the House of Lords. Impeachments are now rare; the last one occurred in 1806. In 2006, a number of MPs attempted to revive the custom, having signed a motion for the impeachment of Tony Blair
Tony Blair
Anthony Charles Lynton Blair is a former British Labour Party politician who served as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 2 May 1997 to 27 June 2007. He was the Member of Parliament for Sedgefield from 1983 to 2007 and Leader of the Labour Party from 1994 to 2007...

, but this was unsuccessful.

Relationship with the Government

The British Government is answerable to the House of Commons. However, neither the Prime Minister nor members of the Government are elected by the House of Commons. Instead, the Queen requests the person most likely to command the support of a majority in the House, normally the leader of the largest party in the House of Commons, to form a government. So that they may be accountable to the Lower House, the Prime Minister and most members of the Cabinet
Cabinet of the United Kingdom
The Cabinet of the United Kingdom is the collective decision-making body of Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom, composed of the Prime Minister and some 22 Cabinet Ministers, the most senior of the government ministers....

 are, by convention, members of the House of Commons. The last Prime Minister to be a member of the House of Lords was Alec Douglas-Home, 14th Earl of Home
Alec Douglas-Home
Alexander Frederick Douglas-Home, Baron Home of the Hirsel, KT, PC , known as The Earl of Home from 1951 to 1963 and as Sir Alec Douglas-Home from 1963 to 1974, was a British Conservative politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from October 1963 to October 1964.He is the last...

, who became Prime Minister in 1963. To adhere to the convention under which he was responsible to the Lower House, he disclaimed his peerage and procured election to the House of Commons within days of becoming Prime Minister.

Governments have a tendency to dominate the legislative functions of Parliament, by using their in-built majority in the House of Commons, and sometimes using their patronage power to appoint supportive peers in the Lords.
In practice, governments can pass any legislation (within reason) in the Commons they wish, unless there is major dissent by MPs in the governing party.
But even in these situations, it is highly unlikely a bill will be defeated, though dissenting MPs may be able to extract concessions from the government. In 1976, Lord Hailsham created a now widely used name for this behaviour, in an academic paper called "elective dictatorship
Elective dictatorship
An "elective dictatorship" is a phrase coined by the former Lord Chancellor of the United Kingdom, Lord Hailsham, in a Richard Dimbleby Lecture at the BBC in 1976. It describes the state in which Parliament is dominated by the government of the day...

".

Parliament controls the executive by passing or rejecting its Bills and by forcing Ministers of the Crown to answer for their actions, either at "Question Time"
Prime Minister's Questions
Prime minister's questions is a constitutional convention in the United Kingdom that takes place every Wednesday during which the prime minister spends half an hour answering questions from members of parliament...

 or during meetings of the parliamentary committees. In both cases, Ministers are asked questions by members of their Houses, and are obliged to answer.

Although the House of Lords may scrutinise the executive through Question Time and through its committees, it cannot bring down the Government. A ministry must always retain the confidence and support of the House of Commons. The Lower House may indicate its lack of support by rejecting a Motion of Confidence
Motion of no confidence votes in the United Kingdom
Motions of no confidence, also called votes of confidence, votes of no-confidence or censure motions, are a feature of the Westminster system of government used in the United Kingdom that requires an executive to retain the confidence of the House of Commons...

 or by passing a Motion of No Confidence
Motion of no confidence votes in the United Kingdom
Motions of no confidence, also called votes of confidence, votes of no-confidence or censure motions, are a feature of the Westminster system of government used in the United Kingdom that requires an executive to retain the confidence of the House of Commons...

. Confidence Motions are generally originated by the Government in order to reinforce its support in the House, whilst No Confidence Motions are introduced by the Opposition. The motions sometimes take the form "That this House has [no] confidence in Her Majesty's Government" but several other varieties, many referring to specific policies supported or opposed by Parliament, are used. For instance, a Confidence Motion of 1992 used the form, "That this House expresses the support for the economic policy of Her Majesty's Government." Such a motion may theoretically be introduced in the House of Lords, but, as the Government need not enjoy the confidence of that House, would not be of the same effect as a similar motion in the House of Commons; the only modern instance of such an occurrence involves the 'No Confidence' motion that was introduced in 1993 and subsequently defeated.

Many votes are considered votes of confidence, although not including the language mentioned above. Important bills that form part of the Government's agenda (as stated in the Speech from the Throne) are generally considered matters of confidence. The defeat of such a bill by the House of Commons indicates that a Government no longer has the confidence of that House. The same effect is achieved if the House of Commons "withdraws Supply
Loss of Supply
Loss of supply occurs where a government in a parliamentary democracy using the Westminster System or a system derived from it is denied a supply of treasury or exchequer funds, by whichever house or houses of parliament or head of state is constitutionally entitled to grant and deny supply. A...

", that is, rejects the budget.

Where a Government has lost the confidence of the House of Commons, the Prime Minister is obliged either to resign, or seek the dissolution of Parliament and a new general election. Where a Prime Minister has ceased to retain a majority in that vote and requests a dissolution, the Sovereign can in theory reject his request, forcing his resignation and allowing the Leader of the Opposition to be asked to form a new government. This power is used extremely rarely. The conditions that should be met to allow such a refusal are known as the Lascelles Principles
Lascelles Principles
The Lascelles Principles are a constitutional convention in the United Kingdom under which the Sovereign could wisely refuse a request of the Prime Minister to dissolve Parliament, if the existing Parliament is "still vital, viable, and capable of doing its job", if "a General Election would be...

. These conditions and principles are merely informal conventions; it is possible, though highly improbable, for the Sovereign to refuse dissolution for no reason at all.

In practice, the House of Commons' scrutiny of the Government is very weak. Since the first-past-the-post
First-past-the-post
First-past-the-post voting refers to an election won by the candidate with the most votes. The winning potato candidate does not necessarily receive an absolute majority of all votes cast.-Overview:...

 electoral system is employed in elections, the governing party tends to enjoy a large majority in the Commons; there is often limited need to compromise with other parties. Modern British political parties are so tightly organised that they leave relatively little room for free action by their MPs. In many cases, MPs may be expelled from their parties for voting against the instructions of party leaders. During the 20th century, the Government has lost confidence issues only three times—twice in 1924, and once in 1979.

Sovereignty

Several different views have been taken of Parliament's sovereignty. According to the jurist Sir William Blackstone
William Blackstone
Sir William Blackstone KC SL was an English jurist, judge and Tory politician of the eighteenth century. He is most noted for writing the Commentaries on the Laws of England. Born into a middle class family in London, Blackstone was educated at Charterhouse School before matriculating at Pembroke...

, "It has sovereign and uncontrollable authority in making, confirming, enlarging, restraining, abrogating, repealing, reviving, and expounding of laws, concerning matters of all possible denominations, ecclesiastical, or temporal, civil, military, maritime, or criminal ... it can, in short, do every thing that is not naturally impossible."

A different view has been taken by the Scottish judge Lord Cooper of Culross
Thomas Cooper, 1st Baron Cooper of Culross
Thomas Mackay Cooper, 1st Baron Cooper of Culross PC, KC was a Scottish politician, judge and historian.-Background and education:...

. When he decided the 1953 case of MacCormick v. Lord Advocate
MacCormick v. Lord Advocate
MacCormick v Lord Advocate was a Scottish legal action in which John MacCormick and Ian Hamilton contested the right of Queen Elizabeth II to style herself ‘Elizabeth II’ within Scotland...

 as Lord President of the Court of Session
Court of Session
The Court of Session is the supreme civil court of Scotland, and constitutes part of the College of Justice. It sits in Parliament House in Edinburgh and is both a court of first instance and a court of appeal....

, he stated, "The principle of unlimited sovereignty of Parliament is a distinctively English principle and has no counterpart in Scottish constitutional law." He continued, "Considering that the Union legislation extinguished the Parliaments of Scotland and England and replaced them by a new Parliament, I have difficulty in seeing why the new Parliament of Great Britain must inherit all the peculiar characteristics of the English Parliament but none of the Scottish." Nevertheless, he did not give a conclusive opinion on the subject.

Thus, the question of Parliamentary sovereignty appears to remain unresolved. Parliament has not passed any Act defining its own sovereignty. A related possible limitation on Parliament relates to the Scottish legal system and Presbyterian faith, preservation of which were Scottish preconditions to the creation of the unified Parliament. Since the Parliament of the United Kingdom was set up in reliance on these promises, it may be that it has no power to make laws that break them.

Parliament's power has often been eroded by its own Acts. Acts passed in 1921
Church of Scotland Act 1921
The Church of Scotland Act 1921 is an Act of the British Parliament, passed in 1921. The purpose of the Act was to settle centuries of dispute between the British Parliament and the Church of Scotland over the Church's independence in spiritual matters...

 and 1925 granted the Church of Scotland
Church of Scotland
The Church of Scotland, known informally by its Scots language name, the Kirk, is a Presbyterian church, decisively shaped by the Scottish Reformation....

 complete independence in ecclesiastical matters. More recently, its power has been restricted by membership of the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

, which has the power to make laws enforceable in each member state. In the Factortame case
Factortame case
The Factortame litigation led to a series of landmark decisions in United Kingdom and European Union law. The case confirmed the supremacy of European Union law over national law in the areas where the EU has competence...

, the European Court of Justice
European Court of Justice
The Court can sit in plenary session, as a Grand Chamber of 13 judges, or in chambers of three or five judges. Plenary sitting are now very rare, and the court mostly sits in chambers of three or five judges...

 ruled that British courts could have powers to overturn British legislation contravening European law.

Parliament has also created national devolved parliaments and assemblies with differing degrees of legislative authority in Scotland
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

, Wales
Wales
Wales is a country that is part of the United Kingdom and the island of Great Britain, bordered by England to its east and the Atlantic Ocean and Irish Sea to its west. It has a population of three million, and a total area of 20,779 km²...

 and Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland is one of the four countries of the United Kingdom. Situated in the north-east of the island of Ireland, it shares a border with the Republic of Ireland to the south and west...

. Parliament still has the power over areas for which responsibility lies with the devolved institutions, but would gain the agreement of those institutions to act on their behalf. Similarly, it has granted the power to make regulations to Ministers of the Crown, and the power to enact religious legislation to the General Synod
General Synod
-Church of England:In the Church of England, the General Synod, which was established in 1970 , is the legislative body of the Church.-Episcopal Church of the United States:...

 of the Church of England. (Measures of the General Synod and, in some cases proposed statutory instrument
Statutory Instrument
A Statutory Instrument is the principal form in which delegated or secondary legislation is made in Great Britain.Statutory Instruments are governed by the Statutory Instruments Act 1946. They replaced Statutory Rules and Orders, made under the Rules Publication Act 1893, in 1948.Most delegated...

s made by ministers, must be approved by both Houses before they become law.)

In every case aforementioned, authority has been conceded by Act of Parliament and may be taken back in the same manner. It is entirely within the authority of Parliament, for example, to abolish the devolved governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland or to leave the EU. However, Parliament also revoked its legislative competence over Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

 and Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 with the Australia and Canada Act
Canada Act 1982
The Canada Act 1982 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that was passed at the request of the Canadian federal government to "patriate" Canada's constitution, ending the necessity for the country to request certain types of amendment to the Constitution of Canada to be made by the...

s: although the Parliament of the United Kingdom could pass an Act reversing its action, it would not take effect in Australia or Canada as the competence of the Imperial Parliament is no longer recognised there in law.

One well-recognised exception to Parliament's power involves binding future Parliaments. No Act of Parliament may be made secure from amendment or repeal by a future Parliament. For example, although the Act of Union 1800
Act of Union 1800
The Acts of Union 1800 describe two complementary Acts, namely:* the Union with Ireland Act 1800 , an Act of the Parliament of Great Britain, and...

 states that the Kingdoms of Great Britain and Ireland are to be united "forever", Parliament permitted southern Ireland to leave the United Kingdom in 1922.

Privileges

Each House of Parliament possesses and guards various ancient privileges. The House of Lords relies on inherent right. In the case of the House of Commons, the Speaker goes to the Lords' Chamber at the beginning of each new Parliament and requests representatives of the Sovereign to confirm the Lower House's "undoubted" privileges and rights. The ceremony observed by the House of Commons dates to the reign of King Henry VIII. Each House is the guardian of its privileges, and may punish breaches thereof. The extent of parliamentary privilege is based on law and custom. Sir William Blackstone states that these privileges are "very large and indefinite", and cannot be defined except by the Houses of Parliament themselves.

The foremost privilege claimed by both Houses is that of freedom of speech
Freedom of speech
Freedom of speech is the freedom to speak freely without censorship. The term freedom of expression is sometimes used synonymously, but includes any act of seeking, receiving and imparting information or ideas, regardless of the medium used...

 in debate; nothing said in either House may be questioned in any court or other institution outside Parliament. Another privilege claimed is that of freedom from arrest
Arrest
An arrest is the act of depriving a person of his or her liberty usually in relation to the purported investigation and prevention of crime and presenting into the criminal justice system or harm to oneself or others...

; at one time this was held to apply for any arrest except for high treason
High treason
High treason is criminal disloyalty to one's government. Participating in a war against one's native country, attempting to overthrow its government, spying on its military, its diplomats, or its secret services for a hostile and foreign power, or attempting to kill its head of state are perhaps...

, felony
Felony
A felony is a serious crime in the common law countries. The term originates from English common law where felonies were originally crimes which involved the confiscation of a convicted person's land and goods; other crimes were called misdemeanors...

 or breach of the peace
Breach of the peace
Breach of the peace is a legal term used in constitutional law in English-speaking countries, and in a wider public order sense in Britain.-Constitutional law:...

 but it now excludes any arrest on criminal charges; it applies during a session of Parliament, and 40 days before or after such a session. Members of both Houses are no longer privileged from service on juries
Jury
A jury is a sworn body of people convened to render an impartial verdict officially submitted to them by a court, or to set a penalty or judgment. Modern juries tend to be found in courts to ascertain the guilt, or lack thereof, in a crime. In Anglophone jurisdictions, the verdict may be guilty,...

.

Both Houses possess the power to punish breaches of their privilege. Contempt of Parliament—for example, disobedience of a subpoena
Subpoena
A subpoena is a writ by a government agency, most often a court, that has authority to compel testimony by a witness or production of evidence under a penalty for failure. There are two common types of subpoena:...

 issued by a committee—may also be punished. The House of Lords may imprison an individual for any fixed period of time, but an individual imprisoned by the House of Commons is set free upon prorogation. The punishments imposed by either House may not be challenged in any court, and the Human Rights Act does not apply.

Emblem

The quasi-official emblem of the Houses of Parliament is a crowned portcullis
Portcullis
A portcullis is a latticed grille made of wood, metal, fibreglass or a combination of the three. Portcullises fortified the entrances to many medieval castles, acting as a last line of defence during time of attack or siege...

. The portcullis was originally the badge of various English noble families from the 14th century. It went on to be adopted by the kings of the Tudor dynasty
Tudor dynasty
The Tudor dynasty or House of Tudor was a European royal house of Welsh origin that ruled the Kingdom of England and its realms, including the Lordship of Ireland, later the Kingdom of Ireland, from 1485 until 1603. Its first monarch was Henry Tudor, a descendant through his mother of a legitimised...

 in the 16th century, under whom the Palace of Westminster became the regular meeting place of Parliament. The crown was added to make the badge a specifically royal symbol.

The portcullis probably first came to be associated with the Palace of Westminster
Palace of Westminster
The Palace of Westminster, also known as the Houses of Parliament or Westminster Palace, is the meeting place of the two houses of the Parliament of the United Kingdom—the House of Lords and the House of Commons...

 through its use as decoration in the rebuilding of the Palace after the fire of 1512. However, at the time it was only one of many symbols. The widespread use of the portcullis throughout the Palace dates from the 19th century, when Charles Barry
Charles Barry
Sir Charles Barry FRS was an English architect, best known for his role in the rebuilding of the Palace of Westminster in London during the mid-19th century, but also responsible for numerous other buildings and gardens.- Background and training :Born on 23 May 1795 in Bridge Street, Westminster...

 and Augustus Pugin
Augustus Pugin
Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin was an English architect, designer, and theorist of design, now best remembered for his work in the Gothic Revival style, particularly churches and the Palace of Westminster. Pugin was the father of E. W...

 used it extensively as a decorative feature in their designs for the new Palace built following the disastrous 1834 fire.

The crowned portcullis came to be accepted during the 20th century as the emblem of both houses of parliament. This was simply a result of custom and usage rather than a specific decision. The emblem now appears on official stationery, publications and papers, and is stamped on various items in use in the Palace of Westminster, such as cutlery, silverware and china.

See also

  • History of democracy
    History of democracy
    The history of democracy traces back to Athens to its re-emergence and rise from the 17th century to the present day. According to one definition, democracy is a political system in which all the members of the society have an equal share of formal political power...

  • History of Parliament
    History of Parliament
    The History of Parliament is a project to write a complete history of the United Kingdom Parliament and its predecessors, the Parliament of Great Britain and the Parliament of England. The history will principally consist of a prosopography, in which the history of an institution is told through...

  • Parliamentary agents
    Parliamentary agents
    Parliamentary Agents are solicitors who are licensed by the Houses of Parliament to draft, promote or oppose Private Bills...

  • Parliamentary Brief
    Parliamentary Brief
    First published in 1992, Parliamentary Brief is a monthly British political magazine circulated by request to members of the British House of Commons, members of the House of Lords, senior civil servants, and political journalists...

  • Parliamentary records of the United Kingdom
    Parliamentary records of the United Kingdom
    Parliamentary records of the United Kingdom covers the period from the creation of the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707, including records from the Parliament of Great Britain and of the Parliament of the United Kingdom.-Longest:...

  • Records of members of parliament of the United Kingdom
    Records of members of parliament of the United Kingdom
    -Youngest:Of those whose age can be verified, the youngest MP since the Reform Act of 1832 was James Dickson who was elected as a Liberal at a by-election for the Borough of Dungannon on 25 June 1880. He was born on 19 April 1859 and so was aged 21 years 67 days...

  • List of Acts of the Parliament of the United Kingdom
  • List of British Governments
  • List of British ministries
  • List of Parliamentary constituencies in the United Kingdom
  • List of Parliaments of the United Kingdom
  • Westminster system
    Westminster System
    The Westminster system is a democratic parliamentary system of government modelled after the politics of the United Kingdom. This term comes from the Palace of Westminster, the seat of the Parliament of the United Kingdom....

  • TheyWorkForYou
    TheyWorkForYou
    TheyWorkForYou is a website run by mySociety, a project of registered charity UK Citizens Online Democracy, and is a tool for political campaigners and those interested in the Parliamentary activities of UK MPs, Lords, and Northern Ireland MLAs....


Lists of MPs elected:
  • List of MPs elected in the United Kingdom general election, 1966
  • List of MPs elected in the United Kingdom general election, 1970
  • MPs elected in the United Kingdom general election, February 1974
  • MPs elected in the United Kingdom general election, October 1974
  • List of MPs elected in the United Kingdom general election, 1979
  • List of MPs elected in the United Kingdom general election, 1983
  • List of MPs elected in the United Kingdom general election, 1987
  • List of MPs elected in the United Kingdom general election, 1992
  • List of MPs elected in the United Kingdom general election, 1997
  • List of MPs elected in the United Kingdom general election, 2001
  • List of MPs elected in the United Kingdom general election, 2005
  • MPs elected in the UK general election, 2010

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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