- House of Commons
The House of Commons is the name of the elected
lower houseof the bicameral parliaments of the United Kingdomand Canada.
In the UK and Canada, the Commons holds much more legislative power than the
upper houseof parliament (the House of Lordsand the Canadian Senate, respectively). The leader of the majority party in the House of Commons usually becomes the prime minister. Since 2005, the House of Commons of the United Kingdomhas had 646 elected members; this will increase to 650 at the next General Election. The Canadian House of Commonshas 308 members. The Commons' functions are to consider through debate new laws and changes to existing ones, authorise taxes, and provide scrutiny of the policy and expenditure of the Government. It has the power to give a Government a vote of no confidence.
Historically, there have also been Houses of Commons in
Irelandand North Carolina( United States).
History and naming
Originally, "the commons" were an
Estate of the realmprior to the Enlightenment in European politics, which typically divided the governance of an area between estates of society. The commons represented people from their local communities, or communes. They did not necessarily represent commoners, as the misconception holds. Other estates included the prelates, nobles, merchantsand knights. The British House of Commons was created to serve as the political outlet for this "commons" class, while the elite estates were represented in the House of Lords. The House of Commons was thus elected while members of the upper house were appointed on the basis of various forms of merit, such as hereditary titles, family lineage, or a service to the realm that warranted special recognition. However, the term "commons" in House of Commons, is derived from the Anglo-Norman word "communes", which referred to the respective geographic and collective "communities" of their representatives and not the third estate, the commonality.
Throughout their histories, the British and Canadian Houses of Commons have become increasingly representative, as
suffragehas been extended. Both bodies are now elected via universal adult suffrage. In both countries, the House of Commons may be prorogued for election only by the Crown.
Although it is common to associate the title of "House of Commons" with the
Westminster systemin general, in practice, only two states actually use the title. They are:
House of Commons of the United Kingdom(at the Palace of Westminster, London)
Canadian House of Commons(on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa)
Three historical bodies have used this name in
Irelandas well, they are:
* House of Commons of Ireland (abolished in 1801)
House of Commons of Southern Ireland(1921–1922)
House of Commons of Northern Ireland(1921–1972)
lower houseof the General Assembly of North Carolinawas also known as the House of Commons between 1760 and 1868.
House of Lords
* Lower House
House of Assembly
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.