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  1. A parliamentary system or parliamentary democracy is a system of democratic governance of a state (or subordinate entity) where the executive derives its democratic legitimacy from its ability to command the support ("confidence") of the legislature, typically a parliament, to which it is accountable.

  2. A parliamentary system of government means that the executive branch of government has the direct or indirect support of the parliament. This support is usually shown by a vote of confidence. A balanced relationship between the executive and the legislature in a parliamentary system is called responsible government.

  3. The first parliaments date back to the Middle Ages. In 930, the first assembly of the Alþingi was convened at Þingvellir in Iceland, becoming the earliest version of a formalized parliamentary system. It was a combination of national assembly, court of justice and yearly cerebration, where the most powerful leaders, called goðar, met to decide on legislation and dispense justice, with the whole community in attendance. In 1188 Alfonso IX, King of Leon convened the three states in the ...

    • History
    • Composition and Powers
    • State Opening of Parliament
    • Duration
    • Legislative Functions
    • Judicial Functions
    • Relationship with The UK Government
    • Parliamentary Sovereignty
    • Privileges
    • Emblem

    The Parliament of Great Britain was formed in 1707 following the ratification of the Treaty of Union by Acts of Union passed by the Parliament of England (established 1215) and the Parliament of Scotland (c.1235), both Acts of Union stating, "That the United Kingdom of Great Britain be represented by one and the same Parliament to be styled The Parliament of Great Britain." At the start of the 19th century, Parliament was further enlarged by Acts of Union ratified by the Parliament of Great Britain and the Parliament of Ireland (1297) that abolished the latter and added 100 Irish MPs and 32 Lords to the former to create the Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. The Royal and Parliamentary Titles Act 1927 formally amended the name to the "Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland", five years after the secession of the Irish Free State.

    The legislative authority, the Crown-in-Parliament, has three separate elements: the Monarch, the House of Lords, and the House of Commons. No individual may be a member of both Houses, and members of the House of Lords are legally barred from voting in elections for members of the House of Commons. Formerly, no-one could be a Member of Parliament (MP) while holding an office of profit under the Crown, thus maintaining the separation of powers, but the principle has been gradually eroded. Until 1919, Members of Parliament who were appointed to ministerial office lost their seats in the House of Commons and had to seek re-election; the rule was abolished in 1926. Holders of offices are ineligible to serve as a Member of Parliament under the House of Commons Disqualification Act 1975. Royal Assent of the Monarch is required for all Bills to become law, and certain delegated legislation must be made by the Monarch by Order in Council. The Crown also has executive powers which do not de...

    The State Opening of Parliament is an annual event that marks the commencement of a session of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It is held in the House of Lords Chamber. Before 2012, it took place in November or December,or, in a general election year, when the new Parliament first assembled. From 2012 onwards, the ceremony has taken place in May or June. Upon the signal of the Monarch, the Lord Great Chamberlain raises their wand of office to signal to Black Rod, who is charged with summoning the House of Commons and has been waiting in the Commons lobby. Black Rod turns and, under the escort of the Door-keeper of the House of Lords and an inspector of police, approaches the doors to the Chamber of the Commons. In 1642, King Charles I stormed into the House of Commons in an unsuccessful attempt to arrest the Five Members, who included the celebrated English patriot and leading Parliamentarian John Hampden. This action sparked the English Civil War. The wars established the con...

    Originally there was no fixed limit on the length of a Parliament, but the Triennial Act 1694 set the maximum duration at three years. As the frequent elections were deemed inconvenient, the Septennial Act 1715 extended the maximum to seven years, but the Parliament Act 1911 reduced it to five. During the Second World War, the term was temporarily extended to ten years by Acts of Parliament. Since the end of the war the maximum has remained five years. Modern Parliaments, however, rarely continued for the maximum duration; normally, they were dissolved earlier. For instance, the 52nd, which assembled in 1997, was dissolved after four years. The Septennial Act was repealed by the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011, which established a presumption that a Parliament will last for five years, unless two thirds of the House of Commons votes for an early general election, or the government loses the confidence of the House. Summary history of terms of the Parliament of the United Kingdom Fol...

    Laws can be made by Acts of the United Kingdom Parliament. While Acts can apply to the whole of the United Kingdom including Scotland, due to the continuing separation of Scots law many Acts do not apply to Scotland and may be matched either by equivalent Acts that apply to Scotland alone or, since 1999, by legislation set by the Scottish Parliamentrelating to devolved matters. This has led to a paradox known as the West Lothian question. The existence of a devolved Scottish Parliament means that while Westminster MPs from Scotland may vote directly on matters that affect English constituencies, they may not have much power over their laws affecting their own constituency. Since there is no devolved "English Parliament," the converse is not true. While any Act of the Scottish Parliament may be overturned, amended or ignored by Westminster, in practice this has yet to happen. Legislative Consent Motionsenables the UK Parliament to vote on issues normally devolved to Scotland, Wales o...

    Prior to the creation of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom in 2009, Parliament was the highest court in the realm for most purposes, but the Privy Council had jurisdiction in some cases (for instance, appeals from ecclesiastical courts). The jurisdiction of Parliament arose from the ancient custom of petitioning the Houses to redress grievances and to do justice. The House of Commons ceased considering petitions to reverse the judgements of lower courts in 1399, effectively leaving the House of Lords as the court of last resort. In modern times, the judicial functions of the House of Lords were performed not by the whole House, but by the Lords of Appeal in Ordinary (judges granted life peerage dignities under the Appellate Jurisdiction Act 1876) and by Lords of Appeal (other peers with experience in the judiciary). However, under the Constitutional Reform Act 2005, these judicial functions were transferred to the newly created Supreme Courtin 2009, and the Lords of Appeal in...

    The British Government is answerable to the House of Commons. However, neither the Prime Minister nor members of the Government are elected by the House of Commons. Instead, the Queen requests the person most likely to command the support of a majority in the House, normally the leader of the largest party in the House of Commons, to form a government. So that they may be accountable to the Lower House, the Prime Minister and most members of the Cabinet are, by convention, members of the House of Commons. The last Prime Minister to be a member of the House of Lords was Alec Douglas-Home, 14th Earl of Home, who became Prime Minister in 1963. To adhere to the convention under which he was responsible to the Lower House, he disclaimed his peerage and procured election to the House of Commons within days of becoming Prime Minister. Governments have a tendency to dominate the legislative functions of Parliament, by using their in-built majority in the House of Commons, and sometimes usin...

    Several different views have been taken of Parliament's sovereignty. According to the jurist Sir William Blackstone, "It has sovereign and uncontrollable authority in making, confirming, enlarging, restraining, abrogating, repealing, reviving, and expounding of laws, concerning matters of all possible denominations, ecclesiastical, or temporal, civil, military, maritime, or criminal… it can, in short, do every thing that is not naturally impossible." A different view has been taken by the Scottish judge Thomas Cooper, 1st Lord Cooper of Culross. When he decided the 1953 case of MacCormick v. Lord Advocate as Lord President of the Court of Session, he stated, "The principle of unlimited sovereignty of Parliament is a distinctively English principle and has no counterpart in Scottish constitutional law." He continued, "Considering that the Union legislationextinguished the Parliaments of Scotland and England and replaced them by a new Parliament, I have difficulty in seeing why the ne...

    Each House of Parliament possesses and guards various ancient privileges. The House of Lords relies on inherent right. In the case of the House of Commons, the Speaker goes to the Lords' Chamber at the beginning of each new Parliament and requests representatives of the Sovereign to confirm the Lower House's "undoubted" privileges and rights. The ceremony observed by the House of Commons dates to the reign of King Henry VIII. Each House is the guardian of its privileges, and may punish breaches thereof. The extent of parliamentary privilege is based on law and custom. Sir William Blackstone states that these privileges are "very large and indefinite," and cannot be defined except by the Houses of Parliament themselves. The foremost privilege claimed by both Houses is that of freedom of speech in debate; nothing said in either House may be questioned in any court or other institution outside Parliament. Another privilege claimed is that of freedom from arrest; at one time this was he...

    The quasi-official emblem of the Houses of Parliament is a crowned portcullis. The portcullis was originally the badge of various English noble families from the 14th century. It went on to be adopted by the kings of the Tudor dynastyin the 16th century, under whom the Palace of Westminster became the regular meeting place of Parliament. The crown was added to make the badge a specifically royal symbol. The portcullis probably first came to be associated with the Palace of Westminster through its use as decoration in the rebuilding of the Palace after the fire of 1512. However, at the time it was only one of many symbols. The widespread use of the portcullis throughout the Palace dates from the 19th century, when Charles Barry and Augustus Puginused it extensively as a decorative feature in their designs for the new Palace built following the disastrous 1834 fire. The crowned portcullis came to be accepted during the 20th century as the emblem of both houses of parliament. This was...

    • House of Lords: 789, House of Commons: 650
    • Keir Starmer, Labour, since 4 April 2020
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  5. Full parliamentary republican systems . In some full parliamentary systems, the head of state is directly elected by voters. Under other classification systems, however, these systems may instead be classed as semi-presidential systems (despite their weak presidency).

    Name
    Constitutional Form
    Head Of State
    Basis Of Executive Legitimacy
    Provisional
    n/a
    No constitutionally-defined basis to ...
    Republic
    Ceremonial
    Ministry is subject to parliamentary ...
    Republic
    Executive
    Presidency independent of legislature;
    Constitutional monarchy
    Ceremonial
    Ministry is subject to parliamentary ...
  6. In a parliamentary system, the legislature is the part of government that makes laws. The legislature also gives power to the executive (the part of government that enforces laws). This is the basic form of a parliamentary republic .

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