Taxation in the United Kingdom
Taxation in the United Kingdom may involve payments to at least three different levels of government: central government, devolved governments and local government. Central government revenues come from income tax, National Insurance contributions, value added tax, corporation tax and fuel duty. Local government revenues come from grants from central government funds, business rates in England, Council Tax and from fees and charges such as those for on-street parking. In the fiscal year 2014–15, total government revenue was forecast to be £648 billion, or 37.7 per cent of GDP, with net taxes and National Insurance contributions standing at £606 billion. A uniform Land tax was introduced in England during the late 17th century, formed the main source of government revenue throughout the 18th century and the early 19th century. Income tax was announced in Britain by William Pitt the Younger in his budget of December 1798 and introduced in 1799, to pay for weapons and equipment in preparation for the Napoleonic Wars.
Pitt's new graduated income tax began at a levy of 2 old pence in the pound on annual incomes over £60, increased up to a maximum of 2 shillings on annual incomes of over £200. Pitt hoped that the new income tax would raise £10 million, but receipts for 1799 totalled just over £6 million. Income tax was levied under five schedules. Income not falling within those schedules was not taxed; the schedules were: Schedule A Schedule B Schedule C Schedule D Schedule E Later, Schedule F was added. Pitt's income tax was levied from 1799 to 1802, when it was abolished by Henry Addington during the Peace of Amiens. Addington had taken over as prime minister in 1801; the income tax was reintroduced by Addington in 1803 when hostilities recommenced, but it was again abolished in 1816, one year after the Battle of Waterloo. Considerable controversy was aroused by the malt, house and income taxes; the malt tax was easy to collect from brewers. The house tax hit London town houses; the income tax was reintroduced by Sir Robert Peel in the Income Tax Act 1842.
Peel, as a Conservative, had opposed income tax in the 1841 general election, but a growing budget deficit required a new source of funds. The new income tax of 7d in the pound, based on Addington's model, was imposed on annual incomes above £150; the war was financed by borrowing large sums at home and abroad, by new taxes, by inflation. It was implicitly financed by postponing maintenance and repair, canceling capital expenditure; the government avoided indirect taxes because they raised the cost of living, caused discontent among the working class. There was a strong emphasis on being "fair" and being "scientific"; the public supported the heavy new taxes, with minimal complaints. The Treasury rejected proposals for a stiff capital levy, which the Labour Party wanted to use to weaken the capitalists. Instead, there was an excess profits tax, of 50% on profits above the normal prewar level. Excise taxes were added on luxury imports such as automobiles and watches. There was no sales value added tax.
The main increase in revenue came from the income tax. 6d in the pound, individual exemptions were lowered. The income tax rate increased to 5s. In 1916, 6s. In 1918. Altogether, taxes provided at most 30% of national expenditure, with the rest from borrowing; the national debt soared from £625 million to £7,800 million. Government bonds paid 5% p.a. Inflation escalated so that the pound in 1919 purchased only a third of the basket it had purchased in 1914. Wages were laggard, the poor and retired were hard hit. Britain's income tax has changed over the years, it taxed a person's income regardless of, beneficially entitled to that income, but now tax is paid on income to which the taxpayer is beneficially entitled. Most companies were taken out of the income tax net in 1965; these changes were consolidated by the Income and Corporation Taxes Act 1970. The schedules under which tax is levied have changed. Schedule B was abolished in 1988, Schedule C in 1996 and Schedule E in 2003. For income tax purposes, the remaining schedules were superseded by the Income Tax Act 2005, which repealed Schedule F.
For corporation tax purposes, the Schedular system was repealed and superseded by the Corporation Tax Acts of 2009 and 2010. The highest rate of income tax peaked in the Second World War at 99.25%. This was reduced after the war and was around 97.5 percent through the 1950s and 60s. In 1971, the top rate of income tax on earned income was cut to 75%. A surcharge of 15% on investment income kept the overall top rate on that income at 90%. In 1974 the top tax rate on earned income was again raised, to 83%. With the investment income surcharge this raised the overall top rate on investment income to 98%, the highest permanent rate since the war; this applied to incomes over £20,000. In 1974, as many as 750,000 people were liable to pay the top rate o
Monarchy of the United Kingdom
The monarchy of the United Kingdom referred to as the British monarchy, is the constitutional monarchy of the United Kingdom, its dependencies and its overseas territories. The current monarch and head of state is Queen Elizabeth II, who ascended the throne in 1952; the monarch and their immediate family undertake various official, ceremonial and representational duties. As the monarchy is constitutional, the monarch is limited to non-partisan functions such as bestowing honours and appointing the Prime Minister; the monarch is commander-in-chief of the British Armed Forces. Though the ultimate executive authority over the government is still formally by and through the monarch's royal prerogative, these powers may only be used according to laws enacted in Parliament and, in practice, within the constraints of convention and precedent; the British monarchy traces its origins from the petty kingdoms of early medieval Scotland and Anglo-Saxon England, which consolidated into the kingdoms of England and Scotland by the 10th century.
England was conquered by the Normans in 1066, after which Wales too came under control of Anglo-Normans. The process was completed in the 13th century when the Principality of Wales became a client state of the English kingdom. Meanwhile, Magna Carta began a process of reducing the English monarch's political powers. From 1603, the English and Scottish kingdoms were ruled by a single sovereign. From 1649 to 1660, the tradition of monarchy was broken by the republican Commonwealth of England, which followed the Wars of the Three Kingdoms; the Act of Settlement 1701 excluded Roman Catholics, or those who married them, from succession to the English throne. In 1707, the kingdoms of England and Scotland were merged to create the Kingdom of Great Britain, in 1801, the Kingdom of Ireland joined to create the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland; the British monarch was the nominal head of the vast British Empire, which covered a quarter of the world's surface at its greatest extent in 1921. In the early 1920s the Balfour Declaration recognised the evolution of the Dominions of the Empire into separate, self-governing countries within a Commonwealth of Nations.
After the Second World War, the vast majority of British colonies and territories became independent bringing the Empire to an end. George VI and his successor, Elizabeth II, adopted the title Head of the Commonwealth as a symbol of the free association of its independent member states; the United Kingdom and fifteen other independent sovereign states that share the same person as their monarch are called Commonwealth realms. Although the monarch is shared, each country is sovereign and independent of the others, the monarch has a different and official national title and style for each realm. In the uncodified Constitution of the United Kingdom, the monarch is the head of state; the Queen's image is used to signify British sovereignty and government authority—her profile, for instance, appearing on currency, her portrait in government buildings. The sovereign is further both mentioned in and the subject of songs, loyal toasts, salutes. "God Save the Queen" is the British national anthem. Oaths of allegiance are made to her lawful successors.
The monarch takes little direct part in government. The decisions to exercise sovereign powers are delegated from the monarch, either by statute or by convention, to ministers or officers of the Crown, or other public bodies, exclusive of the monarch personally, thus the acts of state done in the name of the Crown, such as Crown Appointments if performed by the monarch, such as the Queen's Speech and the State Opening of Parliament, depend upon decisions made elsewhere: Legislative power is exercised by the Queen-in-Parliament, by and with the advice and consent of Parliament, the House of Lords and the House of Commons. Executive power is exercised by Her Majesty's Government, which comprises ministers the prime minister and the Cabinet, technically a committee of the Privy Council, they have the direction of the Armed Forces of the Crown, the Civil Service and other Crown Servants such as the Diplomatic and Secret Services. Judicial power is vested in the various judiciaries of the United Kingdom, who by constitution and statute have judicial independence of the Government.
The Church of England, of which the monarch is the head, has its own legislative and executive structures. Powers independent of government are granted to other public bodies by statute or Statutory Instrument such as an Order in Council, Royal Commission or otherwise; the sovereign's role as a constitutional monarch is limited to non-partisan functions, such as granting honours. This role has been recognised since the 19th century; the constitutional writer Walter Bagehot identified the monarchy in 1867 as the "dignified part" rather than the "efficient part" of government. Whenever necessary, the monarch is responsible for appointing a new prime minister. In accordance with unwritten constitutional conventions, the sovereign must appoint an individual who commands the support of the House of Commons the leader of the party or coalition that has a majority in that House; the prime minister takes office by attending the monarch in private audience, after "kissing hands" that appointment is effective without any other f
The Lord Speaker is the speaker of the House of Lords in the Parliament of the United Kingdom. The office is analogous to the Speaker of the House of Commons: the Lord Speaker is elected by the members of the House of Lords and is expected to be politically impartial; until July 2006, the role of presiding officer in the House of Lords was undertaken by the Lord Chancellor. Under the Constitutional Reform Act 2005, the position of the Speaker of the House of Lords became a separate office, allowing the position to be held by someone other than the Lord Chancellor; the Lord Chancellor continued to act as speaker of the House of Lords in an interim period after the Act was passed while the House of Lords considered new arrangements about its speakership. The current Lord Speaker is Lord Fowler. In 2003, following the decision to disaggregate the roles performed by the Lord Chancellor, a Select Committee of the House of Lords looked into the proposed new office of its presiding officer, including the title for the elected speaker of the Lords.
Following their recommendations, the new speaker was named "Lord Speaker", the number of deputy speakers has fallen from 25 to twelve. "Lord Speaker" was chosen in part because it was in use in the Standing Orders and the Companion. The main functions of the Lord Speaker are to take the chair in debates held in the chamber of the House of Lords, to advise the House of Lords on procedural rules, to take formal responsibility for security in the areas of the Palace of Westminster occupied by the House of Lords and its members, to speak for the House of Lords on ceremonial occasions, to represent the House of Lords as its ambassador in the UK and overseas; the role has less power than the Speaker of the House of Commons. The House of Lords is self-governing, its presiding officer has traditionally taken a less active role in debates than the Speaker of the House of Commons. For example, unlike the Speaker, the Lord Speaker does not call the House to order, determine, to speak when two individuals rise at the same time, rule on points of order, discipline members who violate the rules of the House, or select amendments to bills—all these functions are performed by the House of Lords as a whole.
Furthermore, whilst speeches in the House of Commons are addressed directly to the Speaker, those in the House of Lords are addressed to the House as a whole. In practice, the only task of the Lord Speaker in the Chamber is to formally put the question before a vote, to announce the result of any vote, to make certain announcements to the House. Furthermore, the Lord Speaker may end the adjournment of the House during a public emergency; the Lord Speaker has assumed most of the duties that the Lord Chancellor used to have in relation to his parliamentary role. When peers debated the creation of the office, there was debate as to whether the new speaker should have additional powers and responsibilities that the Lord Chancellor does not have resolved in the negative; the debate was renewed with proposals put forward by a Leader's Group led by Alastair Goodlad. The proposals include allowing the Lord Speaker, during Question Time and ministerial statements, to take on the role of advising the House which party should speak next when there is a dispute.
The Leader of the House of Lords, a Government minister handles this task. The decision of who should speak would remain with the House. A similar proposal was made by the committee that discussed the new office. A further option would allow the Speaker more power during Question Time, but it was not recommended by the Leader's Group; the Group's report has yet to be approved. Like the Speaker of the House of Commons, but unlike the Lord Chancellor, the Lord Speaker is expected to remain non-partisan whilst in office. On election, the Lord Speaker resigns the party whip or crossbench group and certain outside interests to concentrate on being an impartial presiding officer; the Lord Speaker is elected for a maximum term of five years, may serve a maximum of two terms. The election is conducted using the Alternative Vote method. Under amendments made on 3 May 2011, elections must be held by 15 July of final year of a term, with the new term beginning on 1 September; when Helene Hayman, Baroness Hayman was elected the first Lord Speaker, the Clerk of the Parliaments announced the result, the Lord Chamberlain announced the Queen's confirmation of the choice.
Lord Speaker thus elected replaced the Lord Chancellor on the Woolsack. By Royal Warrant on 4 July 2006, the Queen declared that the Lord Speaker would have rank and precedence after the Speaker of the House of Commons; the Lord Speaker earns a salary of £101,038, less than the Speaker of the House of Commons. The Lord Speaker, like the Speaker of the House of Commons, is entitled to a grace and favour apartment in the Parliamentary Estate. Like the Lord Chancellor, the Lord Speaker wears court dress with a plain black silk gown while presiding over the House and a black silk damask and gold lace ceremonial gown on state occasions. To date holders of the office have chosen not to wear a wig, as the Lord Chancellor did, though they do have the option; when presiding over debates, the Lord Speaker sits on the Woolsack. Before each day's sitting of the House of Lords, the Lord Speaker forms part of
Government of the United Kingdom
The Government of the United Kingdom, formally referred to as Her Majesty's Government, is the central government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. It is commonly referred to as the UK Government or the British Government; the government is led by the Prime Minister. The prime minister and the other most senior ministers belong to the supreme decision-making committee, known as the Cabinet; the government ministers all sit in Parliament, are accountable to it. The government is dependent on Parliament to make primary legislation, since the Fixed-terms Parliaments Act 2011, general elections are held every five years to elect a new House of Commons, unless there is a successful vote of no confidence in the government or a two-thirds vote for a snap election in the House of Commons, in which case an election may be held sooner. After an election, the monarch selects as prime minister the leader of the party most to command the confidence of the House of Commons by possessing a majority of MPs.
Under the uncodified British constitution, executive authority lies with the monarch, although this authority is exercised only by, or on the advice of, the prime minister and the cabinet. The Cabinet members advise the monarch as members of the Privy Council. In most cases they exercise power directly as leaders of the Government Departments, though some Cabinet positions are sinecures to a greater or lesser degree; the current prime minister is Theresa May, who took office on 13 July 2016. She is the leader of the Conservative Party, which won a majority of seats in the House of Commons in the general election on 7 May 2015, when David Cameron was the party leader. Prior to this and the Conservatives led a coalition from 2010 to 2015 with the Liberal Democrats, in which Cameron was prime minister; the Government is referred to with the metonym Westminster, due to that being where many of the offices of the government are situated by members in the Government of Scotland, the Welsh Government and the Northern Ireland Executive in order to differentiate it from their own.
A key principle of the British Constitution is. This is called responsible government; the United Kingdom is a constitutional monarchy in which the reigning monarch does not make any open political decisions. All political decisions are taken by Parliament; this constitutional state of affairs is the result of a long history of constraining and reducing the political power of the monarch, beginning with Magna Carta in 1215. Parliament is split into the House of Commons; the House of Commons is the more powerful. The House of Lords is the upper house and although it can vote to amend proposed laws, the House of Commons can vote to overrule its amendments. Although the House of Lords can introduce bills, most important laws are introduced in the House of Commons – and most of those are introduced by the government, which schedules the vast majority of parliamentary time in the Commons. Parliamentary time is essential for bills to be passed into law, because they must pass through a number of readings before becoming law.
Prior to introducing a bill, the government may run a public consultation to solicit feedback from the public and businesses, may have introduced and discussed the policy in the Queen's Speech, or in an election manifesto or party platform. Ministers of the Crown are responsible to the House. For most senior ministers this is the elected House of Commons rather than the House of Lords. There have been some recent exceptions to this: for example, cabinet ministers Lord Mandelson and Lord Adonis sat in the Lords and were responsible to that House during the government of Gordon Brown. Since the start of Edward VII's reign in 1901, the prime minister has always been an elected member of Parliament and therefore directly accountable to the House of Commons. A similar convention applies to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, it would be politically unacceptable for the budget speech to be given in the Lords, with MPs unable to directly question the Chancellor now that the Lords have limited powers in relation to money bills.
The last Chancellor of the Exchequer to be a member of the House of Lords was Lord Denman, who served as interim Chancellor of the Exchequer for one month in 1834. Under the British system, the government is required by convention and for practical reasons to maintain the confidence of the House of Commons, it requires the support of the House of Commons for the maintenance of supply and to pass primary legislation. By convention, if a government loses the confidence of the House of Commons it must either resign or a General Election is held; the support of the Lords, while useful to the government in getting its legislation passed without delay, is not vital. A government is not required to resign if it loses the confidence of the Lords and is defeated in key votes in that House; the House of Commons is thus the Responsible house. The prime minister is held to account during Prime Minister's Questions which provides an opportunity for MPs from all parties to question the PM on any subject
Royal prerogative in the United Kingdom
The royal prerogative is a body of customary authority and immunity attached to the British Monarch, recognised in the United Kingdom. The monarch is regarded internally as the absolute authority, or "sole prerogative", prerogative the source of many of the executive powers of the British government. Prerogative powers were exercised by the monarch acting on his or her own initiative. Since the 19th century, by convention, the advice of the prime minister or the cabinet—who are accountable to Parliament for the decision—has been required in order for the prerogative to be exercised; the monarch remains constitutionally empowered to exercise the royal prerogative against the advice of the prime minister or the cabinet, but in practice would only do so in emergencies or where existing precedent does not adequately apply to the circumstances in question. Today the royal prerogative is available in the conduct of the government of the United Kingdom, including foreign affairs and national security.
The monarchy has a significant constitutional presence in these and other matters, but limited power, because the exercise of the prerogative is in the hands of the prime minister and other ministers or other government officials. The royal prerogative has been called "a notoriously difficult concept to define adequately", but whether a particular type of prerogative power exists is a matter of common law to be decided by the courts as the final arbiter. A prominent constitutional theorist, A. V. Dicey, proposed in the nineteenth century that: The prerogative appears to be and as a matter of fact nothing else than the residue of discretionary or arbitrary authority which at any given time is left in the hands of the crown; the prerogative is the name of the remaining portion of the Crown's original authority... Every act which the executive government can lawfully do without the authority of an Act of Parliament is done in virtue of the prerogative. While many commentators follow the Diceyan view, there are constitutional lawyers who prefer the definition given by William Blackstone in the 1760s:By the word prerogative we understand that special pre-eminence which the King hath and above all other persons, out of the ordinary course of common law, in right of his regal dignity... it can only be applied to those rights and capacities which the King enjoys alone, in contradiction to others, not to those which he enjoys in common with any of his subjects.
Dicey's opinion that any action of governance by the monarch beyond statute is under the prerogative diverges from Blackstone's that the prerogative covers those actions that no other person or body in the United Kingdom can undertake, such as declaration of war. Case law exists to support both views. Blackstone's notion of the prerogative being the powers of an exclusive nature was favoured by Lord Parmoor in the De Keyser's Royal Hotel case of 1920, but some difficulty with it was expressed by Lord Reid in the Burmah Oil case of 1965. A clear distinction has not been necessary in the relevant cases, the courts may never need to settle the question as few cases deal directly with the prerogative itself; the royal prerogative originated as the personal power of the monarch. From the 13th century in England, as in France, the monarch was all-powerful, but this absolute power was checked by "the recrudescence of feudal turbulence in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries". An early attempt to define the royal prerogative was stated by Richard II's judges in 1387.
During the 16th century, this "turbulence" began to recede, the monarch became independent. Under Henry VIII and his successors, the king was the head of the Protestant English church, therefore not answerable to the clergy; the rise of Parliament in this period, was problematic. While the monarch was "the predominant partner in the English constitution", the courts stopped short of declaring him all-powerful, recognising the role that Parliament played. In Ferrer's Case, Henry recognised this, noting that he was far more powerful with the consent of Parliament than without. Nowhere was this more apparent than in the matter of taxation: Sir Thomas Smith and other writers of the period pointed out the monarch could not impose taxation without Parliament's consent. At the same time and his descendants followed the will of the courts, despite the fact they were theoretically not bound by judges. William Holdsworth infers that by asking the legal officers of the crown and judiciary for legal advice and consent, Henry recognised the need for a stable government to follow the law.
He contends that the view that the law is supreme over all "was the view of all the leading lawyers and statesmen and publicists of the Tudor period". It was accepted that while the King had "unfettered discretion", he was limited in areas where the courts had imposed conditions on the use of the prerogative, or where he had chosen to do so; the first dent in this stability came about in 1607, with the Case of Prohibitions. James VI and I claimed that as monarch, he had a divine right to sit as a judge and interpret the common law as he saw fit. Led by Sir Edward Coke, the judiciary rejected this idea, stating that while the monarch was not subject to any individual, he was subject to the law; until he had gained sufficient knowledge of the law, he had no right to interpret it. In the Case of Proclamations in 1611, Coke held that the monarch could only exercise those prerogatives he had, not create new ones. With the Glorious Revolution, King James VII and II w
Politics of the United Kingdom
The United Kingdom is a unitary state with devolution, governed within the framework of a parliamentary democracy under a constitutional monarchy in which the monarch Queen Elizabeth II, is the head of state while the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Theresa May, is the head of government. Executive power is exercised by the British government, on behalf of and by the consent of the monarch, as well as by the devolved governments of Scotland and Wales and the Northern Ireland Executive. Legislative power is vested in the two chambers of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, the House of Commons and the House of Lords, as well as in the Scottish Parliament and Welsh and Northern Ireland assemblies; the judiciary is independent of the legislature. The highest court is the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom; the UK political system is a multi-party system. Since the 1920s, the two dominant parties have been the Labour Party. Before the Labour Party rose in British politics, the Liberal Party was the other major political party, along with the Conservatives.
While coalition and minority governments have been an occasional feature of parliamentary politics, the first-past-the-post electoral system used for general elections tends to maintain the dominance of these two parties, though each has in the past century relied upon a third party, such as the Liberal Democrats, to deliver a working majority in Parliament. A Conservative–Liberal Democrat coalition government held office from 2010 until 2015, the first coalition since 1945; the coalition ended following parliamentary elections on 7 May 2015, in which the Conservative Party won an outright majority of 330 seats in the House of Commons, while their coalition partners lost all but eight seats. With the partition of Ireland, Northern Ireland received home rule in 1920, though civil unrest meant direct rule was restored in 1972. Support for nationalist parties in Scotland and Wales led to proposals for devolution in the 1970s, though only in the 1990s did devolution happen. Today, Scotland and Northern Ireland each possess a legislature and executive, with devolution in Northern Ireland being conditional on participation in certain all-Ireland institutions.
The UK government remains responsible for non-devolved matters and, in the case of Northern Ireland, co-operates with the government of the Republic of Ireland. It is a matter of dispute as to whether increased autonomy and devolution of executive and legislative powers has contributed to the increase in support for independence; the principal Scottish pro-independence party, the Scottish National Party, became a minority government in 2007 and went on to win an overall majority of MSPs at the 2011 Scottish parliament elections and forms the Scottish Government administration. A 2014 referendum on independence led with 44.7 % voting for it. In Northern Ireland, a smaller percentage vote for Irish nationalist parties; the largest, Sinn Féin, not only advocates Irish reunification, but its members abstain from taking their elected seats in the Westminster parliament, as this would entail taking a pledge of allegiance to the British monarch. The constitution of the United Kingdom is uncodified, being made up of constitutional conventions and other elements such as EU law.
This system of government, known as the Westminster system, has been adopted by other countries those that were parts of the British Empire. The United Kingdom is responsible for several dependencies, which fall into two categories: the Crown dependencies, in the immediate vicinity of the UK, British Overseas Territories, which originated as colonies of the British Empire; the Economist Intelligence Unit rated the United Kingdom as a "full democracy" in 2017. The British monarch Queen Elizabeth II, is the chief of state of the United Kingdom. Though she takes little direct part in government, the Crown remains the fount in which ultimate executive power over government lies; these powers are known as royal prerogative and can be used for a vast amount of things, such as the issue or withdrawal of passports, to the dismissal of the Prime Minister or the declaration of war. The powers are delegated from the monarch in the name of the Crown, can be handed to various ministers, or other officers of the Crown, can purposely bypass the consent of Parliament.
The head of Her Majesty's Government, the prime minister has weekly meetings with the sovereign, where she may express her feelings, warn, or advise the prime minister in the government's work. According to the uncodified constitution of the United Kingdom, the monarch has the following powers:Domestic powers The power to dismiss and appoint a prime minister The power to dismiss and appoint other ministers The power to summon and prorogue Parliament The power to grant or refuse Royal Assent to bills The power to commission officers in the Armed Forces The power to command the Armed Forces of the United Kingdom The power to appoint members to the Queen's Counsel The power to issue and withdraw passports The power to grant prerogative of mercy The power to grant honours The power to create corporations via Royal CharterForeign powers The power to ratify and make treaties The power to declare war and peace The power to deploy the Armed Forces overseas The power to recognize states The power to credit and receive diplomats Executive power in the United Kingdom is exercised by the Sovereign, Queen Elizabeth II, via Her Majesty's Government and the devolved national authorities - the Scottish Government, the Welsh Assembly Government and the Northern Ireland Exec
House of Lords
The House of Lords known as the House of Peers, is the upper house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Membership is else by heredity or official function. Like the House of Commons, it meets in the Palace of Westminster; the full name of the house is the Right Honourable the Lords Spiritual and Temporal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in Parliament assembled. Unlike the elected House of Commons, members of the House of Lords are appointed; the membership of the House of Lords is drawn from the peerage and is made up of Lords Spiritual and Lords Temporal. The Lords Spiritual are 26 bishops in the established Church of England. Of the Lords Temporal, the majority are life peers who are appointed by the monarch on the advice of the Prime Minister, or on the advice of the House of Lords Appointments Commission. However, they include some hereditary peers including four dukes. Membership was once an entitlement of all hereditary peers, other than those in the peerage of Ireland, but under the House of Lords Act 1999, the right to membership was restricted to 92 hereditary peers.
Since 2008, only one of them is female. While the House of Commons has a defined number of seats membership, the number of members in the House of Lords is not fixed; the House of Lords is the only upper house of any bicameral parliament in the world to be larger than its lower house. The House of Lords scrutinises bills, it reviews and amends Bills from the Commons. While it is unable to prevent Bills passing into law, except in certain limited circumstances, it can delay Bills and force the Commons to reconsider their decisions. In this capacity, the House of Lords acts as a check on the House of Commons, independent from the electoral process. Bills can be introduced into the House of Commons. While members of the Lords may take on roles as government ministers, high-ranking officials such as cabinet ministers are drawn from the Commons; the House of Lords has its own support services, separate from the Commons, including the House of Lords Library. The Queen's Speech is delivered in the House of Lords during the State Opening of Parliament.
In addition to its role as the upper house, until the establishment of the Supreme Court in 2009, the House of Lords, through the Law Lords, acted as the final court of appeal in the United Kingdom judicial system. The House has a Church of England role, in that Church Measures must be tabled within the House by the Lords Spiritual. Today's Parliament of the United Kingdom descends, in practice, from the Parliament of England, though the Treaty of Union of 1706 and the Acts of Union that ratified the Treaty in 1707 and created a new Parliament of Great Britain to replace the Parliament of England and the Parliament of Scotland; this new parliament was, in effect, the continuation of the Parliament of England with the addition of 45 MPs and 16 Peers to represent Scotland. The House of Lords developed from the "Great Council"; this royal council came to be composed of ecclesiastics and representatives of the counties of England and Wales. The first English Parliament is considered to be the "Model Parliament", which included archbishops, abbots, earls and representatives of the shires and boroughs of it.
The power of Parliament grew fluctuating as the strength of the monarchy grew or declined. For example, during much of the reign of Edward II, the nobility was supreme, the Crown weak, the shire and borough representatives powerless. In 1569, the authority of Parliament was for the first time recognised not by custom or royal charter, but by an authoritative statute, passed by Parliament itself. During the reign of Edward II's successor, Edward III, Parliament separated into two distinct chambers: the House of Commons and the House of Lords; the authority of Parliament continued to grow, during the early 15th century both Houses exercised powers to an extent not seen before. The Lords were far more powerful than the Commons because of the great influence of the great landowners and the prelates of the realm; the power of the nobility declined during the civil wars of the late 15th century, known as the Wars of the Roses. Much of the nobility was killed on the battlefield or executed for participation in the war, many aristocratic estates were lost to the Crown.
Moreover, feudalism was dying, the feudal armies controlled by the barons became obsolete. Henry VII established the supremacy of the monarch, symbolised by the "Crown Imperial"; the domination of the Sovereign continued to grow during the reigns of the Tudor monarchs in the 16th century. The Crown was at the height of its power during the reign of Henry VIII; the House of Lords remained more powerful than the House of Commons, but the Lower House continued to grow in influence, reaching a zenith in relation to the House of Lords during the middle 17th century. Conflicts between the King and the Parliament led to the English Civil War during the 1640s. In 1649, after the defeat and execution of King Charles I, the Commonwealth of England was declared, but the nation was under the overall control of Oliver Cromwell, Lord Protector of England, S