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 ?
Had the argument from the British example been truly stated, it would have stood thus: The term for which supplies may be appropriated to the army establishment, though unlimited by the British Constitution, has nevertheless, in practice, been limited by parliamentary discretion to a single year.
Otherwise he might have been a great general, blowing up all sorts of towns, or he might have been a great politician, dealing in all sorts of parliamentary rhetoric; but as it was, he and the Court of Chancery had fallen upon each other in the pleasantest way, and nobody was much the worse, and Gridley was, so to speak, from that hour provided for.
Parliamentary history has few better passages than the debate in which Burke and Fox separated in the House of Commons; when Fox urged on his old friend the claims of old friendship with such tenderness that the house was moved to tears.
He was something of a politician, and had always taken a prominent part in the local elections, so he knew the proper Parliamentary expressions to use.
During the Parliamentary struggle, Reading was besieged by the Earl of Essex, and, a quarter of a century later, the Prince of Orange routed King James's troops there.
Happily for Mary Datchet she returned to the office to find that by some obscure Parliamentary maneuver the vote had once more slipped beyond the attainment of women.
Powderell, a retired iron-monger of some standing--his interjection being something between a laugh and a Parliamentary disapproval; "we must let you have your say.
and indeed it was very often nothing else, still, to give that back again in the right spirit of cordiality, required, not merely a nod and a smile, but as wholesome an action of the lungs withal, as a long-winded Parliamentary speech.
Papa will be free from his parliamentary duties in August--and he has promised to have the house full of delightful people to meet you.
You seem to know something about parliamentary forms of speech," said the Two Arms.
All the higher offices were gained through parliamentary influence, royalty had nothing to do now with them, and the subordinate clerks became, after a time, merely the running-gear of the machine; the most important considerations with them being to keep the wheels well greased.
All the lyric poets of whom I have told you were Royalists, but the Puritans too had their poets, and before ending this chapter I would like to tell you a little of Andrew Marvell, a Parliamentary poet.

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