Parliament of the United Kingdom
The Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland known internationally as the UK Parliament, British Parliament, or Westminster Parliament, domestically as Parliament, is the supreme legislative body of the United Kingdom, the Crown dependencies and the British Overseas Territories. It alone possesses legislative supremacy and thereby ultimate power over all other political bodies in the UK and the overseas territories. Parliament is bicameral but has three parts, consisting of the Sovereign, the House of Lords, the House of Commons; the two houses meet in the Palace of Westminster in the City of Westminster, one of the inner boroughs of the capital city, London. The House of Lords includes two different types of members: the Lords Spiritual, consisting of the most senior bishops of the Church of England, the Lords Temporal, consisting of life peers, appointed by the Sovereign on the advice of the Prime Minister, of 92 hereditary peers, sitting either by virtue of holding a royal office, or by being elected by their fellow hereditary peers.
Prior to the opening of the Supreme Court in October 2009, the House of Lords performed a judicial role through the Law Lords. The House of Commons is an elected chamber with elections to 650 single member constituencies held at least every five years under the first-past-the-post system; the two Houses meet in separate chambers in the Palace of Westminster in London. By constitutional convention, all government ministers, including the Prime Minister, are members of the House of Commons or, less the House of Lords and are thereby accountable to the respective branches of the legislature. Most cabinet ministers are from the Commons, whilst junior ministers can be from either House. However, the Leader of the House of Lords must be a peer; 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 and the Parliament of Scotland, 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 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 in 1922. With the global expansion of the British Empire, the UK Parliament has shaped the political systems of many countries as ex-colonies and so it has been called the "Mother of Parliaments". However, John Bright – who coined the epithet – used it in reference to the political culture of "England" rather than just the parliamentary system. In theory, the UK's supreme legislative power is vested in the Crown-in-Parliament. However, the Crown acts on the advice of the Prime Minister and the powers of the House of Lords are limited to only delaying legislation.
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was created on 1 January 1801, by the merger of the Kingdoms of Great Britain and Ireland under the Acts of Union 1800. The principle of ministerial responsibility to the lower House did not develop until the 19th century—the House of Lords was superior to the House of Commons both in theory and in practice. Members of the House of Commons were elected in an antiquated electoral system, under which constituencies of vastly different sizes existed. Thus, the borough of Old Sarum, with seven voters, could elect two members, as could the borough of Dunwich, which had completely disappeared into the sea due to land erosion. Many small constituencies, known as pocket or rotten boroughs, were controlled by members of the House of Lords, who could ensure the election of their relatives or supporters. During the reforms of the 19th century, beginning with the Reform Act 1832, the electoral system for the House of Commons was progressively regularised.
No longer dependent on the Lords for their seats, MPs grew more assertive. The supremacy of the British House of Commons was reaffirmed in the early 20th century. In 1909, the Commons passed the so-called "People's Budget", which made numerous changes to the taxation system which were detrimental to wealthy landowners; the House of Lords, which consisted of powerful landowners, rejected the Budget. On the basis of the Budget's popularity and the Lords' consequent unpopularity, the Liberal Party narrowly won two general elections in 1910. Using the result as a mandate, the Liberal Prime Minister, Herbert Henry Asquith, introduced the Parliament Bill, which sought to restrict the powers of the House of Lords; when the Lords refused to pass the bill, Asquith countered with a promise extracted from the King in secret before the second general election of 1910 and requested the creation of several hundred Liberal peers, so as to erase the Conservative majority in the House of Lords. In the face of such a threat, the House of Lords narrowly passed the bill.
The Parliament Act 1911, as it became, prevented the Lords from blocking a money bill, allowed them to delay any other bill for a maximum of three sessions, after which it could become law over their objections. However, regardless of the Parliament Acts of 1911 and 1949, t
Coins of the pound sterling
The standard circulating coinage of the United Kingdom is denominated in pounds sterling, since the introduction of the two-pound coin in 1994, ranges in value from one penny to two pounds. Since decimalisation, on 15 February 1971, the pound has been divided into 100 pence. From the 16th century until decimalisation, the pound was divided into 20 shillings, each of 12 pence. British coins are minted by the Royal Mint in Wales; the Royal Mint commissions the coins' designs. As of 31 March 2016, there were an estimated 30.14 billion coins circulating in the United Kingdom. The first decimal coins were circulated in 1968; these were the five pence and ten pence, had values of one shilling and two shillings under the pre-decimal £sd system. The decimal coins are minted in copper-plated steel, nickel-plated steel and nickel-brass; the two-pound coins, and, as from 28 March 2017 the new one-pound coins, are bimetallic. The coins are discs, except for the twenty pence and fifty pence pieces, both of which have faces that are heptagonal curves of constant width, the new one-pound coins, which have faces with 12 sides.
All the circulating coins have an effigy of Queen Elizabeth II on the obverse, various national and regional designs, the denomination, on the reverse. The circulating coins, excepting the two-pound coin, were redesigned in 2008, keeping the sizes and compositions unchanged, but introducing reverse designs that each depict a part of the Royal Shield of Arms and form the whole shield when they are placed together in the appropriate arrangement; the exception, the 2008 one-pound coin, depicts the entire shield of arms on the reverse. All current coins carry a Latin inscription whose full form is ELIZABETH II DEI GRATIA REGINA FIDEI DEFENSATRIX, meaning "Elizabeth II, by the grace of God and Defender of the Faith". In addition to the circulating coinage, the UK mints commemorative decimal coins in the denomination of five pounds. Prior to decimalisation, the denomination of special commemorative coins was five shillings, that is, 1⁄4 of a pound. Crowns, had a face value of 25p from decimalisation until 1981, when the last 25p crown was struck.
Ceremonial Maundy money and bullion coinage of gold sovereigns, half sovereigns, gold and silver Britannia coins are produced. Some territories outside the United Kingdom, which use the pound sterling, produce their own coinage, with the same denominations and specifications as the UK coinage but with local designs. In the years just before decimalisation, the circulating British coins were the half crown, two shillings or florin, sixpence, threepence and halfpenny; the farthing had been withdrawn in 1960. There was the Crown, which was, still is legal tender, worth 25p, but did not circulate. All modern coins feature a profile of the current monarch's head; the direction in which they face changes with each successive monarch, a pattern that began with the Stuarts. For the Tudors and pre-Restoration Stuarts, both left and right-facing portrait images were minted within the reign of a single monarch. In the Middle Ages, portrait images tended to be full face. From a early date, British coins have been inscribed with the name of the ruler of the kingdom in which they were produced, a longer or shorter title, always in Latin.
The English silver penny was derived from another silver coin, the sceat, of 20 troy grains weight, in general circulation in Europe during the Middle Ages. In the 12th century, Henry II established the sterling silver standard for English coinage, of 92.5% silver and 7.5% copper, replacing the earlier use of fine silver in the Middle Ages. The coinage reform of 1816 set up physical sizes for silver coins. Silver was eliminated from coins, except Maundy coins, in 1947; the history of the Royal Mint stretches back to AD 886. For many centuries production was in London at the Tower of London, at premises nearby in Tower Hill in what is today known as Royal Mint Court. In the 1970s production was transferred to Llantrisant in South Wales. Scotland and England had separate coinage. Coins were hand-hammered — an ancient technique in which two dies are struck together with a blank coin between them; this was the traditional method of manufacturing coins in the Western world from the classical Greek era onwards, in contrast with Asia, where coins were traditionally cast.
Milled coins were produced first during the reign of Elizabeth I and periodically during the subsequent reigns of James I and Charles I, but there was opposition to mechanisation from the moneyers, who ensured that most coins continued to be produced by hammering. All British coins produced since 1662 have been milled; the English penny first appeared as a silver coin. It was derived from another silver coin, the sceat, of 20 troy grains weight, in general circulation in Europe during the Middle Ages; the weight of the English penny was fixed at 22 1⁄2 troy grains by Offa of Mercia, an 8th-century contemporary of Charlemagne. The coin's designated value, was that of 24 troy grains of silver, with the difference b
Silver is a chemical element with symbol Ag and atomic number 47. A soft, lustrous transition metal, it exhibits the highest electrical conductivity, thermal conductivity, reflectivity of any metal; the metal is found in the Earth's crust in the pure, free elemental form, as an alloy with gold and other metals, in minerals such as argentite and chlorargyrite. Most silver is produced as a byproduct of copper, gold and zinc refining. Silver has long been valued as a precious metal. Silver metal is used in many bullion coins, sometimes alongside gold: while it is more abundant than gold, it is much less abundant as a native metal, its purity is measured on a per-mille basis. As one of the seven metals of antiquity, silver has had an enduring role in most human cultures. Other than in currency and as an investment medium, silver is used in solar panels, water filtration, ornaments, high-value tableware and utensils, in electrical contacts and conductors, in specialized mirrors, window coatings, in catalysis of chemical reactions, as a colorant in stained glass and in specialised confectionery.
Its compounds are used in X-ray film. Dilute solutions of silver nitrate and other silver compounds are used as disinfectants and microbiocides, added to bandages and wound-dressings and other medical instruments. Silver is similar in its physical and chemical properties to its two vertical neighbours in group 11 of the periodic table and gold, its 47 electrons are arranged in the configuration 4d105s1 to copper and gold. This distinctive electron configuration, with a single electron in the highest occupied s subshell over a filled d subshell, accounts for many of the singular properties of metallic silver. Silver is an soft and malleable transition metal, though it is less malleable than gold. Silver crystallizes in a face-centered cubic lattice with bulk coordination number 12, where only the single 5s electron is delocalized to copper and gold. Unlike metals with incomplete d-shells, metallic bonds in silver are lacking a covalent character and are weak; this observation explains the low high ductility of single crystals of silver.
Silver has a brilliant white metallic luster that can take a high polish, and, so characteristic that the name of the metal itself has become a colour name. Unlike copper and gold, the energy required to excite an electron from the filled d band to the s-p conduction band in silver is large enough that it no longer corresponds to absorption in the visible region of the spectrum, but rather in the ultraviolet. Protected silver has greater optical reflectivity than aluminium at all wavelengths longer than ~450 nm. At wavelengths shorter than 450 nm, silver's reflectivity is inferior to that of aluminium and drops to zero near 310 nm. High electrical and thermal conductivity is common to the elements in group 11, because their single s electron is free and does not interact with the filled d subshell, as such interactions lower electron mobility; the electrical conductivity of silver is the greatest of all metals, greater than copper, but it is not used for this property because of the higher cost.
An exception is in radio-frequency engineering at VHF and higher frequencies where silver plating improves electrical conductivity because those currents tend to flow on the surface of conductors rather than through the interior. During World War II in the US, 13540 tons of silver were used in electromagnets for enriching uranium because of the wartime shortage of copper. Pure silver has the highest thermal conductivity of any metal, although the conductivity of carbon and superfluid helium-4 are higher. Silver has the lowest contact resistance of any metal. Silver forms alloys with copper and gold, as well as zinc. Zinc-silver alloys with low zinc concentration may be considered as face-centred cubic solid solutions of zinc in silver, as the structure of the silver is unchanged while the electron concentration rises as more zinc is added. Increasing the electron concentration further leads to body-centred cubic, complex cubic, hexagonal close-packed phases. Occurring silver is composed of two stable isotopes, 107Ag and 109Ag, with 107Ag being more abundant.
This equal abundance is rare in the periodic table. The atomic weight is 107.8682 u. Both isotopes of silver are produced in stars via the s-process, as well as in supernovas via the r-process. Twenty-eight radioisotopes have been characterized, the most stable being 105Ag with a half-life of 41.29 days, 111Ag with a half-life of 7.45 days, 112Ag with a half-life of 3.13 hours. Silver has numerous nuclear isomers, the most stable being 108mAg, 110mAg and 106mAg. All of the remaining radioactive isotopes have half-lives of less than an hour, the majority of these have half-lives of less than three minutes. Isotopes of silver range in relative atomic mass from 92.950 u
The decimal numeral system is the standard system for denoting integer and non-integer numbers. It is the extension to non-integer numbers of the Hindu–Arabic numeral system; the way of denoting numbers in the decimal system is referred to as decimal notation. A decimal numeral, or just decimal, or casually decimal number, refers to the notation of a number in the decimal numeral system. Decimals may sometimes be identified for containing a decimal separator. "Decimal" may refer to the digits after the decimal separator, such as in "3.14 is the approximation of π to two decimals". The numbers that may be represented in the decimal system are the decimal fractions, the fractions of the form a/10n, where a is an integer, n is a non-negative integer; the decimal system has been extended to infinite decimals, for representing any real number, by using an infinite sequence of digits after the decimal separator. In this context, the decimal numerals with a finite number of non–zero places after the decimal separator are sometimes called terminating decimals.
A repeating decimal is an infinite decimal that after some place repeats indefinitely the same sequence of digits. An infinite decimal represents a rational number if and only if it is a repeating decimal or has a finite number of nonzero digits. Many numeral systems of ancient civilisations use ten and its powers for representing numbers because there are ten fingers on two hands and people started counting by using their fingers. Examples are Brahmi numerals, Greek numerals, Hebrew numerals, Roman numerals, Chinese numerals. Large numbers were difficult to represent in these old numeral systems, only the best mathematicians were able to multiply or divide large numbers; these difficulties were solved with the introduction of the Hindu–Arabic numeral system for representing integers. This system has been extended to represent some non-integer numbers, called decimal fractions or decimal numbers for forming the decimal numeral system. For writing numbers, the decimal system uses ten decimal digits, a decimal mark, for negative numbers, a minus sign "−".
The decimal digits are 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9. For representing a non-negative number, a decimal consists of either a sequence of digits such as 2017, or in full generality, a m a m − 1 … a 0 or two sequence of digits separated by a decimal mark such as 3.14159, 15.00, or in full generality a m a m − 1 … a 0. B 1 b 2 … b n It is assumed that, if m > 0, the first digit am is not zero, but, in some circumstances, it may be useful to have one or more 0's on the left. This does not change the value represented by the decimal. For example, 3.14 = 03.14 = 003.14. If bn =0, it may be removed, conversely, trailing zeros may be added without changing the represented number: for example, 15 = 15.0 = 15.00 and 5.2 = 5.20 = 5.200. Sometimes the extra zeros are used for indicating the accuracy of a measurement. For example, 15.00 m may indicate that the measurement error is less than one centimeter, while 15 m may mean that the length is fifteen meters, that the error may exceed 10 cm. For representing a negative number, a minus sign is placed before am.
The numeral a m a m − 1 … a 0. B 1 b 2 … b n represents the number a m 10 m + a m − 1 10 m − 1 + ⋯ + a 0 10 0 + b 1 10 1 + b 2 10 2 + ⋯ + b n 10 n Therefore, the contribution of each digit to the value of a number depends on its position in the numeral; that is, the decimal system is a positional numeral system The numbers that are represented by decimal numerals are the decimal fractions, that is, the rational numbers that may be expressed as a fraction, the denominator of, a power of ten. For example, the numerals 0.8, 14.89, 0.00024 represent the fractions 8/10, 1489/100, 24/100000. More a decimal with n digits after the separator represents the fraction with denominator 10n, whose numerator is the integer obtained by removing the separator. Expressed as a reduced fraction, the decimal numbers are those whose denominator is a product of a powe
On 15 February 1971, known as Decimal Day, the United Kingdom and Ireland decimalised their currencies. Under the old currency of pounds and pence, the pound was made up of 240 pence, with 12 pence in a shilling and 20 shillings in a pound; the loss of value of the currency meant that the "old" penny, with the same diameter as the US half-dollar, had become of low value. The Coinage Act of 1792 had authorized the United States as the first English-speaking nation to have decimalised currency, although Tsar Peter the Great used the concept for the Russian ruble close to a century earlier, in 1704, while China has used such a decimal system for at least 2000 years; the United Kingdom's Parliament rejected Sir John Wrottesley's proposals to decimalise sterling in 1824, prompted by the introduction in 1795 of the decimal French franc. After this defeat, little practical progress towards decimalisation was made for over a century, with the exception of the two-shilling silver florin first issued in 1849.
A double florin or four-shilling piece was a further step in that direction but failed to gain acceptance and was struck only from 1887 to 1890. The Decimal Association was founded in 1841 to promote decimalisation and metrication, both causes that were boosted by a realisation of the importance of international trade following the 1851 Great Exhibition, it was as a result of the growing interest in decimalisation. In their preliminary report, the Royal Commission on Decimal Coinage considered the benefits and problems of decimalisation but did not draw any conclusion about the adoption of any such scheme. A final report in 1859 from the two remaining commissioners, Lord Overstone and Governor of the Bank of England John Hubbard came out against the idea, claiming it had "few merits". In 1862, the Select Committee on Weights and Measures favoured the introduction of decimalisation to accompany the introduction of metric weights and measures; the decimalisation movement entered fiction. In Anthony Trollope's Palliser novels, Plantagenet Palliser is a passionate advocate of decimalisation, a cause the other characters seem to find intensely boring.
Palliser's scheme would have divided the shilling into ten pennies. This would have changed the threepence into 2 1/2 new pence, the sixpence into fivepence and the half crown into a two shilling, five pence piece, it would have required the withdrawal and reissuance of the existing copper coinage. At the end of the fifth book in the series, The Prime Minister, Palliser muses that the reform will not be accomplished, since it can only be done by a Chancellor of the Exchequer sitting in the House of Commons, the Duke now sits in the House of Lords; the Royal Commission on Decimal Coinage, chaired by Lord Emmott, reported in 1920 that the only feasible scheme was to divide the pound into 1,000 mills but that this would be too inconvenient. A minority of four members disagreed. A further three members recommended that the pound should be replaced by the Royal, consisting of 100 halfpennies. In 1960, a report prepared jointly by the British Association for the Advancement of Science and the Association of British Chambers of Commerce, followed by the success of decimalisation in South Africa, prompted the Government to set up the Committee of the Inquiry on Decimal Currency in 1961, which reported in 1963.
The adoption of the changes suggested in the report was announced on 1 March 1966. The Decimal Currency Board was created to manage the transition, although the plans were not approved by Parliament until the Decimal Currency Act in May 1969. Former Greater London Council leader Bill Fiske was named as the Chairman of the Decimal Currency Board. Consideration was given to introducing a new major unit of currency worth ten shillings in the old currency: suggested names included the new pound, the royal and the noble; this would have resulted in the "decimal penny" being worth only more than the old penny. But Halsbury decided, in view of the pound sterling's importance as a reserve currency, that the pound should remain unchanged. Under the new system, the pound was retained but was divided into 100 new pence, denoted by the symbol p. New coinage was issued alongside the old coins; the 5p and 10p coins were introduced in April 1968 and were the same size and value as the shilling and two shillings coins in circulation with them.
In October 1969 the 50p coin was introduced, with the 10s note withdrawn on 20 November 1970. This reduced the number of new coins that had to be introduced on Decimal Day and meant that the public was familiar with three of the six new coins. Small booklets were made available containing all of the new denominations; the old halfpenny was withdrawn from circulation on 31 July 1969, the half-crown followed on 31 December to ease the transition. There was a substantial publicity campaign in the weeks before Decimalisation Day, including a song by Max Bygraves called "Decimalisation"; the BBC broadcast a series of five-minute programmes, "Decimal Five", to whi
Threepence (British coin)
The British threepence coin simply known as a threepence or threepenny bit, was a unit of currency equaling one eightieth of a pound sterling, or three old pence sterling. It was used in the United Kingdom, earlier in Great Britain and England. Similar denominations were used throughout the British Empire, notably in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa; the sum of three pence was pronounced variously THRUUP-ənss, THREP-ənss or THRUP-ənss, reflecting different pronunciations in the various regions of the United Kingdom. The coin was referred to in conversation as a THRUUP-nee, THREP-nee or THRUP-nee bit. Before Decimal Day in 1971 there were two hundred and forty pence in one pound sterling. Twelve pence made a shilling, twenty shillings made a pound. Values less than a pound were written in terms of shillings and pence, e.g. forty-two pence would be three shillings and six pence, pronounced "three and six". Values of less than a shilling were written in terms of pence, e.g. eight pence would be 8d.
The three pence coin – expressed in writing as "3d" – first appeared in England during the fine silver coinage of King Edward VI, when it formed part of a set of new denominations. Although it was an easy denomination to work with in the context of the old sterling coinage system, being a quarter of a shilling it was not popular with the public who preferred the groat. Hence the coin was not minted in the following two reigns. Edward VI threepences were struck at the York mints; the obverse shows a front-facing bust of the king, with a rose to the left and the value numeral III to the right, surrounded by the legend EDWARD VI D G ANG FRA Z HIB REX. The reverse shows a long cross over the royal shield, surrounded by the legend POSUI DEUM ADIUTOREM MEUM, or CIVITAS EBORACI. Queen Elizabeth I produced threepences during her third coinage. Most 1561 issues are 21 mm in diameter, while ones are 19 mm in diameter; these coins are identifiable from other denominations by the rose behind the queen's head on the obverse, the date on the reverse.
The obverse shows a left-facing crowned bust of the queen with a rose behind her, surrounded by the legend ELIZABETH D G ANG FR ET HIB REGINA, while the reverse shows shield over a long cross, dated 1561, surrounded by the legend POSUI DEU ADIUTOREM MEU. Dates used for the smaller coins were 1561–77. Threepences of the fourth coinage are identical except for having a lower silver content. There was a rare milled coinage threepence, produced between 1561 and 1564 with similar designs and inscriptions to the hammered coinage threepences; the threepence denomination fell out of use again during the reign of King James I, while during King Charles I's reign it was not produced at the London Tower mint, but was produced at various provincial mints. The denomination is identified by the numeral III appearing behind the king's head. By far the most common Charles I threepences were produced at the Aberystwyth mint between 1638 and 1642, they feature a left-facing crowned bust of the king with plumes in front of his face and the numeral III behind him, with the legend CAROLUS DG MA B FR ET H REX, with the reverse showing the royal arms on a large oval shield with plumes above the shield, the legend CHRISTO AUSPICE REGNO – I reign under the auspices of Christ.
Plumes were the identifying symbol of the Aberystwyth mint, but the Bristol and Oxford mints used dies from the Aberystwyth mint so plumes appear on their output too. Milled coins were produced at the York mint between 1638 and 1649, which look similar to the Aberystwyth product but without the plumes – the obverse features a left-facing crowned bust of the king with the numeral III behind him, with the legend CAROLUS D G MAG BR FR ET HI REX, with the reverse showing the royal arms on a shield over a cross, with EBOR over the shield and the legend CHRISTO AUSPICE REGNO. Coins were produced at the Oxford mint between 1644 and 1646, using the Aberystwyth dies for the obverse, while the reverse of the 1644 coin shows the Declaration of Oxford in three lines: RELI PRO LEG ANG LIB PAR. 1644 OX – The religion of the Protestants, the laws of England, the liberty of Parliament. 1644 Oxford, while around the outside of the coin is the legend EXURGAT DEUS DISSIPENTUR INIMICI – Let God arise and His enemies be scattered.
This coin appears dated 1646. A further type produced at Oxford had on the obverse the king's bust with the denomination behind him, the letter "R" below the king's shoulder and the legend CAROLUS D G M BR F ET H REX and the Aberystwyth reverse; the mint at Bristol produced rare threepences in 1644 and 1645. In 1644 the Aberystwyth obverse was used to produce a coin with the reverse showing the Declaration of Oxford: REL PRO LEG AN LIB PA 1644 – The religion of the Protestants, the laws of England, the liberty of Parliament 1644, while around the outside of the coin is the legend EXURGAT DEUS DISSIPENTUR INIMICI – Let God arise and His enemies be scattered; this was with a plumelet instead of a plume in front of the king's face. In 1644 the Exeter mint produced a scarce threepence, it features a left-facing crowned bust of the king with the numeral III behind him, with the legend CAROLUS D G MA BR F ET H RE, with the reverse showing the royal arms on a shield with the date 1644 above the shield, the legend CHRISTO AUSPICE REGNO.
No threepences were produced by the Commonwealth of England. The final hammered coinage threepences were produced at the start of