The historical process of power expansion in the British House of Commons
Members of the House of Commons are elected through the “voting system for the one who gets the most votes.” The Congress cannot be longer than five years. The dissolution of the House of Commons is announced every five years. The dissolution of the House of Commons is the end of the term of the House of Commons. Every member of the House of Commons is elected by voters in a constituency. After being elected, a member of the House of Commons will represent that constituency in Parliament.
Most of the cabinet ministers of the British government today come from the House of Commons, and since 1902, the previous British Prime Ministers have also been members of the House of Commons. The House of Commons appeared around the 14th century and has continued to this day.
Historically, the power of the House of Commons was far inferior to that of the House of Lords, but today, the House of Commons has a dominant position in both houses. At present, the legislative power of the House of Commons can surpass that of the House of Lords. According to the “Congress Act of 1911”, the power of the House of Lords to reject most bills is reduced to merely delaying the passage of bills.
In addition, the British government also needs to be accountable to the House of Commons. If the Prime Minister loses the support of the House of Commons, he will step down. The official form of the House of Commons is called “The Honourable the Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in Parliament assembled” (The Honourable the Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in Parliament assembled).
It has always been thought that in the English “House of Commons” in the House of Commons, the word “Commons” comes from the English “commoners” (solution of commoners), reflecting that all members of the House of Commons are from common people, to distinguish the House of Commons (House of Commons) held by the nobles. Lords).
However, there is no historical support behind this explanation. In fact, the word “Commons” refers to the “communes” in Norman French, which means the community represented by the parliamentarians, which has a geographical significance. The upper and lower houses are both located in Westminster Palace in London, and every time a meeting is held, a scepter must be placed in the chamber to demonstrate the emperor’s power.
After a series of civil wars in the late 15th century, the influence of the monarch has increased day by day, while the power of the great nobles has been continuously weakened. In these years, the power of the upper and lower houses has also shrunk further, and the absolute and supreme authority of the monarch has dominated the country.
During the Tudor dynasty in the 16th century, the power of the monarch reached its peak, but as soon as 1603, when the Stuart dynasty began to rule, the power of the monarch went downhill from the top. During the reigns of the first two monarchs of the Stuart dynasty, James I and Charles I, they both clashed with the House of Commons on issues such as taxation, religion, and royal power.
During the reign of Charles I, the relationship between the monarch and the parliament fell into an irreparable state, which eventually led to the British Civil War. In 1649, Charles I was beheaded, and the monarch and the House of Lords were also abolished. Since then, although the House of Commons theoretically became the supreme institution, in fact the whole country was tightly controlled by Oliver Cromwell’s military dictatorship.
By 1653, Cromwell had completely abolished Congress. However, after Cromwell’s death, the monarchy was restored in 1660, and the upper and lower houses were reconvened. After the restoration of the monarch, the influence of the monarch was no longer what it used to be. By 1688, after James II left the country due to the glorious revolution, the power of the monarch was even reduced.
The most significant change in parliament in the 18th century was the development of the position of prime minister. Later, in 1782, the then prime minister, Lord North, failed to lead Britain to victory in the American War of Independence. As a result, Congress passed a motion of no confidence and forced it to step down. This incident reflects that if a government does not get the support of Congress, it will collapse, and this is exactly what people think of democratic government today.
On the other hand, although people often think that the government must be supported by the House of Commons, this has actually been developed in modern times. Similarly, the custom of the Prime Minister’s birth in the House of Commons did not appear as early as the 18th century.
After entering the 19th century, the House of Commons has undergone large-scale reforms. Before the reforms, the monarch had the privilege to grant or deprive the electoral rights of an autonomous town, which enabled some places that did not meet the qualifications of an autonomous town to obtain the electoral rights equivalent to that of an autonomous town, which caused quite serious chaos. In addition, since 1660, the scope of the electoral districts has not been reorganized. As a result, some electoral districts with a similar population have been drastically reduced by the 19th century. However, as a rule, each electoral district still elects two members of the lower house.
These over-represented constituencies were dubbed “rotten boroughs” at the time, and the most famous among them were Old Sarum and Dunwich. One of the two constituencies The population is only 6 people, and the other is already overwhelmed, but they can still occupy two seats each in the House of Commons. On the contrary, in many industrial towns like Manchester, there is not even a single member of the House of Commons who represents the city, and voters often can only elect members who represent the county. In addition, there were also some “pocket boroughs” at that time. Most of these small constituencies were controlled by landlords and nobles. Most of them had internal candidates and then “elected” by voters.
In 1831, the House of Commons passed the “Reform Draft” in order to correct the aforementioned chaos, but the House of Lords was unwilling to pass the draft at first. The then prime minister, Earl Grey, then suggested that William IV canonize a large number of people who supported the reform as aristocrats, so that the draft could be passed by the upper house.
After some turmoil, William IV finally decided to accept Earl Grey’s proposal, but the House of Lords changed its original intentions on the eve of its implementation and formally passed the draft in 1832. This law is called the “Reform Act of 1832”, also known as the “Great Reform Act.”
According to the bill, all corrupt constituencies will be abolished, and the voting rules of all autonomous towns will be unified. As for towns with large populations, they will directly hold seats in the House of Commons, but many pocket constituencies have been retained. After the passage of the bill, the House of Commons has become increasingly arbitrary, and the influence of the House of Lords has been compromised in the crisis of the reform bill.
Since then, for some bills that have been passed by a large number in the lower house, when the upper house is mentioned, although the upper house intends to veto the bill, it has to think twice. It was at this time that the view that the prime minister must be supported by the House of Commons to stay in office became an accepted political principle.
After the election, Asquis determined that the draft restricting the powers of the House of Lords must be passed by the House of Commons. Before the upper house vote, King George V agreed to the Prime Minister’s proposal. If the upper house does not pass the bill, 500 newly canonized Liberal nobles will flood into the upper house (that is, the 1832 used to force the upper house to acquiesce in the reform bill). Same strategy).
As a result, the “1911 Congress Act” took effect quickly, changing the situation where the two houses have equal legislative powers. After the bill passed, the House of Lords lost its veto power on the bill and only retained the right to delay. In addition, most of the bills cannot be shelved in the House of Lords for more than three sessions or two calendar years (“Parliament Bill of 1949” passed Later, it was reduced to two sessions or one calendar year), and the budget cannot be shelved for more than one month. After this incident, both in theory and in practice, the House of Commons has become the more influential party in Congress.
Since the beginning of the 17th century, the position of parliamentarians has been unpaid. Most of the parliamentarians have relied on their own private income or funded their livelihoods by wealthy patrons. As for the early Labour Party members of parliament, the union paid their salaries, but it was later ruled illegal by the House of Lords in 1910. The ruling of the House of Lords eventually prompted the passage of the 1911 Congressional Act to pay salaries to members. But it is worth mentioning that members of Congress who serve in the government have always been paid.