Parliament of Great Britain

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Parliament of the Kingdom of Great Britain
Coat of Arms of Great Britain (1714-1801).svg
Type
Type
Houses House of Lords
House of Commons
History
Established1 May 1707
Disbanded31 December 1800
Preceded by Parliament of England
Parliament of Scotland
Succeeded by Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
1801–1927
Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
1927–present
Leadership
Lord Loughborough
since 1793
Henry Addington
since 1789
Structure
1796 British general election results (Westminster style).svg
House of Commons political groups
Final composition of the British House of Commons:
519 Seats
   Tories: 424 seats
   Whigs: 95 seats
Elections
Ennoblement by the Sovereign or inheritance of a peerage
First-past-the-post with limited suffrage
Meeting place
Westminster 16C.jpg
Palace of Westminster, London
Footnotes
See also:
Parliament of Ireland

The Parliament of Great Britain was formed in May 1707 following the ratification of the Acts of Union by both the Parliament of England and the Parliament of Scotland. The Acts ratified the treaty of Union which created a new unified Kingdom of Great Britain and created the parliament of Great Britain located in the former home of the English parliament in the Palace of Westminster, near the City of London. This lasted nearly a century, until the Acts of Union 1800 merged the separate British and Irish Parliaments into a single Parliament of the United Kingdom with effect from 1 January 1801.

Contents

History

Following the Treaty of Union in 1706, Acts of Union ratifying the Treaty were passed in both the Parliament of England and the Parliament of Scotland, which created a new Kingdom of Great Britain. [1] [2] The Acts paved the way for the enactment of the treaty of Union which created a new parliament, referred to as the 'Parliament of Great Britain', based in the home of the former English parliament. All of the traditions, procedures, and standing orders of the English parliament were retained, although there is no provision for this within the treaty, and to this day this is a contentious issue, as were the incumbent officers, and members representing England comprised the overwhelming majority of the new body. It was not even considered necessary to hold a new general election. While Scots law and Scottish legislation remained separate, new legislation was thereafter to be enacted by the new parliament, with the exception of that pertaining to private right which could only legislated on for the “evident utility” of the people. [3]

After the Hanoverian King George I ascended the British throne in 1714 through the Act of Settlement of 1701, real power continued to shift away from the monarchy. George was a German ruler, spoke poor English, and remained interested in governing his dominions in continental Europe rather than in Britain. He thus entrusted power to a group of his ministers, the foremost of whom was Sir Robert Walpole, and by the end of his reign in 1727 the position of the ministers – who had to rely on Parliament for support – was cemented. George I's successor, his son George II, continued to follow through with his father's domestic policies and made little effort to re-establish monarchical control over the government which was now in firm control by Parliament. By the end of the 18th century the monarch still had considerable influence over Parliament, which was dominated by the English aristocracy, by means of patronage, but had ceased to exert direct power: for instance, the last occasion on which the Royal Assent was withheld was in 1708 by Queen Anne. [4] At general elections the vote was restricted to freeholders and landowners, in constituencies that had changed little since the Middle Ages, so that in many "rotten" and "pocket" boroughs seats could be bought, while major cities remained unrepresented, except by the Knights of the Shire representing whole counties. Reformers and Radicals sought parliamentary reform, but as the French Revolutionary Wars developed the British government became repressive against dissent and progress towards reform was stalled.

George II's successor, George III, sought to restore royal supremacy and absolute monarchy, but by the end of his reign the position of the king's ministers – who discovered that they needed the support of Parliament to enact any major changes – had become central to the role of British governance, and would remain so ever after.

During the first half of George III's reign, the monarch still had considerable influence over Parliament, which itself was dominated by the patronage and influence of the English nobility. Most candidates for the House of Commons were identified as Whigs or Tories, but once elected they formed shifting coalitions of interests rather than dividing along clear party lines. At general elections the vote was restricted in most places to property owners, in constituencies which were out of date and did not reflect the growing importance of manufacturing towns or shifts of population, so that in the rotten and pocket boroughs seats in parliament could be bought from the rich landowners who controlled them, while major cities remained unrepresented. Reformers like William Beckford and Radicals beginning with John Wilkes called for reform of the system. In 1780, a draft programme of reform was drawn up by Charles James Fox and Thomas Brand Hollis and put forward by a sub-committee of the electors of Westminster. This included calls for the six points later adopted by the Chartists.

The American War of Independence ended in defeat for a foreign policy that sought to prevent the thirteen American colonies from breaking away and forming their own independent nation, something which George III had fervently advocated, and in March 1782 the king was forced to appoint an administration led by his opponents which sought to curb royal patronage. In November of 1783, he took the opportunity to use his influence in the House of Lords to defeat a bill to reform the Honourable East India Company, dismissed the government of the day, and appointed William Pitt the Younger to form a new government. Pitt had previously called for Parliament to begin to reform itself, but he did not press for long for reforms the king did not like. Proposals Pitt made in April 1785 to redistribute seats from the "rotten boroughs" to London and the counties were defeated in the House of Commons by 248 votes to 174.

In the wake of the French Revolution of 1789, Radical organisations such as the London Corresponding Society sprang up to press for parliamentary reform, but as the French Revolutionary Wars developed the government took extensive repressive measures against feared domestic unrest aping the democratic and egalitarian ideals of the French Revolution and progress toward reform was stalled for decades.

Parliament of the United Kingdom

In 1801, the Parliament of the United Kingdom was created when the Kingdom of Great Britain was united with the Kingdom of Ireland to become the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland under the Acts of Union 1800.

See also

Related Research Articles

Acts of Union 1707 Acts of Parliament creating the Kingdom of Great Britain

The Acts of Union were two Acts of Parliament: the Union with Scotland Act 1706 passed by the Parliament of England, and the Union with England Act passed in 1707 by the Parliament of Scotland. They put into effect the terms of the Treaty of Union that had been agreed on 22 July 1706, following negotiation between commissioners representing the parliaments of the two countries. By the two Acts, the Kingdom of England and the Kingdom of Scotland—which at the time were separate states with separate legislatures, but with the same monarch—were, in the words of the Treaty, "United into One Kingdom by the Name of Great Britain".

Reform Act 1832 1832 UK law reforming the electoral system of England and Wales

The Representation of the People Act 1832 was an Act of Parliament of the United Kingdom that introduced major changes to the electoral system of England and Wales. It abolished tiny districts, gave representation to cities, gave the vote to small landowners, tenant farmers, shopkeepers, householders who paid a yearly rental of £10 or more, and some lodgers. Only qualifying men were able to vote; the Act introduced the first explicit statutory bar to women voting, by defining a voter as a male person.

Kingdom of Great Britain Constitutional monarchy in Western Europe (1707–1800)

The Kingdom of Great Britain, officially called Great Britain, was a sovereign country in Western Europe from 1 May 1707 to 1 January 1801. The state was created by the 1706 Treaty of Union and ratified by the Acts of Union 1707, which united the kingdoms of England and Scotland to form a single kingdom encompassing the whole island of Great Britain and its outlying islands, with the exception of the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. The unitary state was governed by a single parliament at the Palace of Westminster, but distinct legal systems – English law and Scots law – remained in use.

Acts of Union 1800 Acts of the Parliaments of Great Britain and Ireland which united those two Kingdoms

The Acts of Union 1800 were parallel acts of the Parliament of Great Britain and the Parliament of Ireland which united the Kingdom of Great Britain and the Kingdom of Ireland to create the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. The acts came into force on 1 January 1801, and the merged Parliament of the United Kingdom had its first meeting on 22 January 1801.

Rotten and pocket boroughs Former type of parliamentary borough or constituency in England

A rotten or pocket borough, also known as a nomination borough or proprietorial borough, was a parliamentary borough or constituency in England, Great Britain, or the United Kingdom before the Reform Act 1832, which had a very small electorate and could be used by a patron to gain unrepresentative influence within the unreformed House of Commons. The same terms were used for similar boroughs represented in the 18th-century Parliament of Ireland. The Reform Act 1832 abolished the majority of these rotten and pocket boroughs.

Kingdom of England Historic sovereign kingdom on the British Isles (927–1649; 1660–1707)

The Kingdom of England was a sovereign state on the island of Great Britain from 12 July 927, when it emerged from various Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, until 1 May 1707, when it united with Scotland to form the Kingdom of Great Britain. The Kingdom of England was among the most powerful states in Europe during the medieval period.

In the United Kingdom, representative peers were those peers elected by the members of the Peerage of Scotland and the Peerage of Ireland to sit in the British House of Lords. Until 1999, all members of the Peerage of England held the right to sit in the House of Lords; they did not elect a limited group of representatives. All peers who were created after 1707 as Peers of Great Britain and after 1801 as Peers of the United Kingdom held the same right to sit in the House of Lords.

Politics of England Overview of the political system in England

Politics of England forms the major part of the wider politics of the United Kingdom, with England being more populous than all the other countries of the United Kingdom put together. As England is also by far the largest in terms of area and GDP, its relationship to the UK is somewhat different from that of Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. The English capital London is also the capital of the UK, and English is the dominant language of the UK. Dicey and Morris (p26) list the separate states in the British Islands. "England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man, Jersey, Guernsey, Alderney, and Sark.... is a separate country in the sense of the conflict of laws, though not one of them is a State known to public international law." But this may be varied by statute.

The Society of the Friends of the People was an organisation in Great Britain that was focused on advocating for Parliamentary Reform. It was founded by the Whig Party in 1792.

Radicalism or classical radicalism was a historical political movement within liberalism during the late 18th and early 19th centuries and a precursor to social liberalism and modern progressivism. Its identified radicals were proponents of democratic reform in what subsequently became the parliamentary Radicals in the United Kingdom.

Unreformed House of Commons British legislature

"Unreformed House of Commons" is a name given to the House of Commons of Great Britain and the House of Commons of the United Kingdom before it was reformed by the Reform Act 1832.

Treaty of Union Agreement that led to the creation of the new state of Great Britain

The Treaty of Union is the name usually now given to the treaty which led to the creation of the new state of Great Britain, stating that the Kingdom of England and the Kingdom of Scotland were to be "United into One Kingdom by the Name of Great Britain". At the time it was more often referred to as the Articles of Union.

First Parliament of Great Britain Parliament of the Kingdom of Great Britain from 1707 to 1708

The first Parliament of the Kingdom of Great Britain was established in 1707 after the merger of the Kingdom of England and the Kingdom of Scotland. It was in fact the 4th and last session of the 2nd Parliament of Queen Anne suitably renamed: no fresh elections were held in England, and the existing members of the House of Commons of England sat as members of the new House of Commons of Great Britain. In Scotland, prior to the union coming into effect, the Scottish Parliament appointed sixteen peers and 45 Members of Parliaments to join their English counterparts at Westminster.

Tain Burghs, was a constituency of the House of Commons of the Parliament of Great Britain from 1708 to 1801 and of the Parliament of the United Kingdom from 1801 to 1832, sometimes known as Northern Burghs. It was represented by one Member of Parliament (MP).

The Church Patronage (Scotland) Act 1711 or Patronage Act is an Act of the Parliament of Great Britain. The long title of the act is An Act to restore the Patrons to their ancient Rights of presenting Ministers to the Churches vacant in that Part of Great Britain called Scotland. Its purpose was to allow the noble and other Patrons in Scotland to gain control over the Church of Scotland parish churches again, having lost that custom in the Glorious Revolution.

Events from the year 1707 in Great Britain, created on 1 May this year as a consequence of the 1706 Treaty of Union and its ratification by the 1707 Acts of Union.

Unionism in the United Kingdom Overview of unionism in the United Kingdom

Unionism in the United Kingdom, also referred to as British unionism, is a political ideology favouring the continued unity of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland as one sovereign state, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Those who support the union are referred to as "Unionists". British unionism can be associated with British nationalism, which asserts that the British are a nation and promotes the cultural unity of the Britons, which may include people of English, Scottish, Welsh, Irish, Cornish and Manx descent.

Formation of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

The formation of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland has involved personal and political union across Great Britain and the wider British Isles. The United Kingdom is the most recent of a number of sovereign states that have been established in Great Britain at different periods in history, in different combinations and under a variety of polities. Historian Norman Davies has counted sixteen different states over the past 2,000 years.

Events from the year 1707 in the Kingdom of England, then England.

Act of Adjournal

An Act of Adjournal is secondary legislation made by the High Court of Justiciary, the supreme criminal court of Scotland, to regulate the proceedings of Scottish courts hearing criminal matters. Now primarily derived from the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995, the original power to create Acts of Adjournal is derived from an Act of the Parliament of Scotland of 1672. Before promulgation, Acts of Adjournal are reviewed and may be commented upon by the Criminal Courts Rules Council.

References

  1. "Uniting the kingdom?". nationalarchives.gov.uk. Retrieved 18 January 2011.
  2. "Making the Act of Union 1707" (PDF). scottish.parliament.uk. Archived from the original (PDF) on 11 May 2011. Retrieved 18 January 2011.
  3. Act of Union 1707, Article 1
  4. Black, Jeremy (2004). Parliament and Foreign Policy in the Eighteenth Century. England: Cambridge University Press. p. 21. ISBN   0-521-83331-0.


Parliament of Great Britain
Preceded by
Parliament of England
c.1215–1707
Parliament of Scotland
c.1235–1707
Parliament of Great Britain
1707–1800
Succeeded by

Coordinates: 51°29′57″N00°07′29″W / 51.49917°N 0.12472°W / 51.49917; -0.12472