House of Commons of Great Britain

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The Honourable the Commons of the Kingdom of Great Britain in Parliament assembled
Coat of Arms of Great Britain (1714-1801).svg
Royal coat of arms of Great Britain, 1714-1800
Type
Type
History
Established1 May 1707
Disbanded31 December 1800
Preceded by House of Commons of England
Third Estate of the Parliament of Scotland
Succeeded by House of Commons of the United Kingdom
Leadership
Henry Addington
since 1789
Structure
Seats558
Salarynone
Elections
First past the post with limited suffrage
Meeting place
St Stephen's Chapel, Palace of Westminster, Westminster, London
Footnotes
See also:
Irish House of Commons

The House of Commons of Great Britain was the lower house of the Parliament of Great Britain between 1707 and 1801. In 1707, as a result of the Acts of Union of that year, it replaced the House of Commons of England and the third estate of the Parliament of Scotland, as one of the most significant changes brought about by the Union of the kingdoms of England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain.

Contents

Pitt addressing the House in 1793 William Pitt addressing the House of Commons on the outbreak of war with Austria (by Karl Anton Hickel).jpg
Pitt addressing the House in 1793

In the course of the 18th century, the office of Prime Minister developed. The notion that a government remains in power only as long as it retains the support of Parliament also evolved, leading to the first ever motion of no confidence, when Lord North's government failed to end the American Revolution. The modern notion that only the support of the House of Commons is necessary for a government to survive, however, was of later development. Similarly, the custom that the Prime Minister is always a Member of the Lower House, rather than the Upper one, did not evolve until the twentieth century.

The business of the house was controlled by an elected Speaker. The Speaker's official role was to moderate debate, make rulings on procedure, announce the results of votes, and the like. The Speaker decided who may speak and had the powers to discipline members who break the procedures of the house. The Speaker often also represented the body in person, as the voice of the body in ceremonial and some other situations. The title was first recorded in 1377 to describe the role of Thomas de Hungerford in the Parliament of England. By convention, Speakers are normally addressed in Parliament as Mister Speaker, if a man, or Madam Speaker, if a woman.

In 1801, the House was enlarged to become the House of Commons of the United Kingdom, as a result of the Act of Union of 1800 which combined Great Britain and the Kingdom of Ireland into the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. [1]

Creation

The members of the last House of Commons of England had been elected between 7 May and 6 June 1705, and from 1707 they all continued to sit as members of the new House of Commons. The last general election in Scotland had been held in the autumn of 1702, and from 1707 only forty-five of the members of the Parliament of Scotland joined the new house. In Scotland there was also no new election from the burghs, and the places available were filled by co-option from the last Parliament.

Parliamentary constituencies

The constituencies which elected members in England and Wales remained unchanged throughout the existence of the Parliament of Great Britain. [1]

Table of Constituencies and Members of the Parliament
CountryConstituenciesMembers
Borough
/Burgh
CountyUniversityTotalBorough
/Burgh
CountyUniversityTotal
England [2] 203402245405804489
Wales [2] 12120241212024
Scotland15300451530045
Total2308223144321224558

Sources:

See also

Related Research Articles

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Elections in Great Britain

Elections in the Kingdom of Great Britain were principally general elections and by-elections to the House of Commons of Great Britain. General elections did not have fixed dates, as parliament was summoned and dissolved within the royal prerogative, although on the advice of the ministers of the Crown. The first such general election was that of 1708, and the last that of 1796.

References

  1. 1 2 Chris Cook & John Stevenson, British Historical Facts 1760-1830 (The Macmillan Press, 1980)
  2. 1 2 Monmouthshire, with one county constituency represented by two members and one single-member borough constituency, is included in England. In later centuries it was included in Wales.

Further reading

Coordinates: 51°29′59.6″N0°07′28.8″W / 51.499889°N 0.124667°W / 51.499889; -0.124667