House of Commons

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The Irish House of Commons
The first purpose-built House of Commons chamber in the world. Painted c.1780. The Irish House of Commons in 1780 by Francis Wheatley.jpg
The Irish House of Commons
The first purpose-built House of Commons chamber in the world. Painted c.1780.

The House of Commons was the name for the elected lower house of the bicameral parliaments of the United Kingdom and Canada. In the UK and Canada, the Commons holds much more legislative power than the nominally upper house of parliament. The leader of the majority party in the House of Commons by convention becomes the prime minister. Other parliaments have also had a lower house called a "House of Commons".

Contents

History and naming

The British House of Commons chamber in London House of Commons Chamber 1.png
The British House of Commons chamber in London

The House of Commons of the Kingdom of England evolved from an undivided parliament to serve as the voice of the tax-paying subjects of the counties and of the boroughs. Knights of the shire, elected from each county, were usually landowners, while the borough members were often from the merchant classes. These members represented subjects of the Crown who were not Lords Temporal or Spiritual, who themselves sat in the House of Lords. The House of Commons gained its name because it represented communities (communes). [1]

Since the 19th century, the British and Canadian Houses of Commons have become increasingly representative, as suffrage has been extended. Both bodies are now elected via universal adult suffrage. However, from the Middle Ages until the early 20th century the suffrage was limited in various ways, typically to some male property-owners; in 1780 just 3% of the population could vote. [2]

Specific bodies

The Canadian House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa House of Common, Parliament Canada.jpg
The Canadian House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa

British Isles

Westminster

Dublin

Belfast

Canada

United States

See also

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References

  1. A. F. Pollard, The Evolution of Parliament (Longmans, 1920), 107–08.
  2. "The Struggle for Democracy: Getting the vote – Voting rights before 1832". UK National Archives. Retrieved 8 May 2019.