Parliament


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Parliament

in the constitutional law of the UK, originally a body summoned to assist the monarch in discussing important matters and dispensing justice and hearing grievances. In modern times it is divided into two houses: the House of Commons, which is democratically elected, and the House of Lords, which is inhabited by hereditary and appointed peers. It sits in Westminster (formerly a royal palace) and is now under the control of the Speaker of the House of Commons. Still known as the High Court of Parliament, its functions are not simply legislative, although that is its most important role today. It is summoned by exercise of the royal prerogative, and this meeting is known as a Parliament that lasts until that Parliament is dissolved. While convened, it divides into sessions, now two a year, each session being terminated by prorogation (again an exercise of the prerogative). The Meeting of Parliament Act 1694 provides (following the Triennial Act 1664) that Parliaments must be called at least once every three years. The convention that requires the important Finance, Army, Air Force and Navy Acts to be re-enacted annually means that Parliament sits at least once a year, although having become the modern government of a modern nation it is in almost constant session.

Its pomp and ceremony are legendary. The Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod leads the members of the House of Commons to the House of Lords on the opening of Parliament. The Queen usually attends the opening of a Parliament, and, indeed, each session, to give the Queen's speech (drafted in fact by the cabinet), setting out the legislative programme. A Bill for the Suppression of Clandestine Outlawries is read at the start of every session except the first to show the world that the Commons can initiate bills not in the Queen's speech. In the Lords, the debate on the Queen's speech takes place after a formal reading of the Select Vestries Bill and in the form of a debate on a loyal address.

The Parliament Acts 1911 and 1949 represent the present state of the long-running struggle between Lords and Commons, and reflects the fact that universal suffrage, which began in 1832 with the great Reform Act, has strengthened the hand of the Commons over the Lords. The thrust of the Acts read together is that the Lords can at best delay a Bill by sending it back to the Commons, who then have only to bide their time to turn it into law. The 1949 Act was actually passed under the provisions of the 1911 Act, and it was this 1949 provision that effectively made the power a delaying one instead of one that might have allowed a longer period and one in which the electorate has a say in an important matter over which the two houses had disagreed. Its constitutionality has been challenged in the courts but unsuccessfully. See also NATIONAL ASSEMBLY FOR WALES, SCOTTISH PARLIAMENT.

PARLIAMENT. This word, derived from the French parlement, in the English law, is used to designate the legislative branch of the government of Great Britain, composed of the house of lords, and the house of commons.
     2. It is an error to regard the king of Great Britain as forming a part of parliament. The connexion between the king and the lords spiritual, the lords temporal, and the commons, which, when assembled in parliament, form the, three states of the realm, is the same as that which subsists between the king and those states -- the people at large -- out of parliament; Colton's Records, 710; the king not being, in either case, a member, branch, or co-estate, but standing solely in the relation of sovereign or head. Rot. Par. vol. iii,. 623 a.; 2 Mann. & Gr. 457 n.

References in classic literature ?
But the English lawyers had decided that Parliament was omnipotent--and Parliament, in its omnipotence, instead of trial by jury and the Habeas Corpus, enacted admiralty courts in England to try Americans for offences charged against them as committed in America; instead of the privileges of Magna Charta, nullified the charter itself of Massachusetts Bay; shut up the port of Boston; sent armies and navies to keep the peace and teach the colonies that John Hampden was a rebel and Algernon Sidney a traitor.
At the revolution, to abolish the exercise of so dangerous an authority, it became an article of the Bill of Rights then framed, that "the raising or keeping a standing army within the kingdom in time of peace, UNLESS WITH THE CONSENT OF PARLIAMENT, was against law.
By another statute, which passed a few years later in the same reign, the term "frequently," which had alluded to the triennial period settled in the time of Charles II, is reduced to a precise meaning, it being expressly enacted that a new parliament shall be called within three years after the termination of the former.
At length parliament was convoked; the authority of the king was to be maintained.
For two years our ancestors were kept in sullen submission by that filial love which had invariably secured their allegiance to the mother country, whether its head chanced to be a Parliament, Protector, or Popish Monarch.
This was the more doubtful, because the English Parliament had long ago made laws which were intended to be very beneficial to England at the expense of America.
de Retz and the parliament had not sent them wood and bread.
I stood for Parliament when I was quite a young man and got in by an enormous majority, with loud cheers and chairing round the town.
It was because the Member of Parliament found that he could not leave the House that I had been invited.
After reflecting a moment, temporarily sheltered beneath the little wicket of the prison of the treasurer of the Sainte- Chappelle, as to the shelter which he would select for the night, having all the pavements of Paris to choose from, he remembered to have noticed the week previously in the Rue de la Savaterie, at the door of a councillor of the parliament, a stepping stone for mounting a mule, and to have said to himself that that stone would furnish, on occasion, a very excellent pillow for a mendicant or a poet.
Parliament generally rushed off to Reading whenever there was a plague on at Westminster; and, in 1625, the Law followed suit, and all the courts were held at Reading.
Casaubon's will had yet reached Ladislaw: the air seemed to be filled with the dissolution of Parliament and the coming election, as the old wakes and fairs were filled with the rival clatter of itinerant shows; and more private noises were taken little notice of.