The United Kingdom the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, sometimes referred to as Britain, is a sovereign country located off the north-western coast of the European mainland. The United Kingdom includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland, many smaller islands. Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom that shares a land border with another sovereign state, the Republic of Ireland. Apart from this land border, the United Kingdom is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the North Sea to the east, the English Channel to the south and the Celtic Sea to the south-west, giving it the 12th-longest coastline in the world; the Irish Sea lies between Great Ireland. With an area of 242,500 square kilometres, the United Kingdom is the 78th-largest sovereign state in the world, it is the 22nd-most populous country, with an estimated 66.0 million inhabitants in 2017. The UK is constitutional monarchy; the current monarch is Queen Elizabeth II, who has reigned since 1952, making her the longest-serving current head of state.
The United Kingdom's capital and largest city is London, a global city and financial centre with an urban area population of 10.3 million. Other major urban areas in the UK include Greater Manchester, the West Midlands and West Yorkshire conurbations, Greater Glasgow and the Liverpool Built-up Area; the United Kingdom consists of four constituent countries: England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Their capitals are London, Edinburgh and Belfast, respectively. Apart from England, the countries have their own devolved governments, each with varying powers, but such power is delegated by the Parliament of the United Kingdom, which may enact laws unilaterally altering or abolishing devolution; the nearby Isle of Man, Bailiwick of Guernsey and Bailiwick of Jersey are not part of the UK, being Crown dependencies with the British Government responsible for defence and international representation. The medieval conquest and subsequent annexation of Wales by the Kingdom of England, followed by the union between England and Scotland in 1707 to form the Kingdom of Great Britain, the union in 1801 of Great Britain with the Kingdom of Ireland created the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.
Five-sixths of Ireland seceded from the UK in 1922, leaving the present formulation of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. There are fourteen British Overseas Territories, the remnants of the British Empire which, at its height in the 1920s, encompassed a quarter of the world's land mass and was the largest empire in history. British influence can be observed in the language and political systems of many of its former colonies; the United Kingdom is a developed country and has the world's fifth-largest economy by nominal GDP and ninth-largest economy by purchasing power parity. It has a high-income economy and has a high Human Development Index rating, ranking 14th in the world, it was the world's first industrialised country and the world's foremost power during the 19th and early 20th centuries. The UK remains a great power, with considerable economic, military and political influence internationally, it is sixth in military expenditure in the world. It has been a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council since its first session in 1946.
It has been a leading member state of the European Union and its predecessor, the European Economic Community, since 1973. The United Kingdom is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, the Council of Europe, the G7, the G20, NATO, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the World Trade Organization; the 1707 Acts of Union declared that the kingdoms of England and Scotland were "United into One Kingdom by the Name of Great Britain". The term "United Kingdom" has been used as a description for the former kingdom of Great Britain, although its official name from 1707 to 1800 was "Great Britain"; the Acts of Union 1800 united the kingdom of Great Britain and the kingdom of Ireland in 1801, forming the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. Following the partition of Ireland and the independence of the Irish Free State in 1922, which left Northern Ireland as the only part of the island of Ireland within the United Kingdom, the name was changed to the "United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland".
Although the United Kingdom is a sovereign country, Scotland and Northern Ireland are widely referred to as countries. The UK Prime Minister's website has used the phrase "countries within a country" to describe the United Kingdom; some statistical summaries, such as those for the twelve NUTS 1 regions of the United Kingdom refer to Scotland and Northern Ireland as "regions". Northern Ireland is referred to as a "province". With regard to Northern Ireland, the descriptive name used "can be controversial, with the choice revealing one's political preferences"; the term "Great Britain" conventionally refers to the island of Great Britain, or politically to England and Wales in combination. However, it is sometimes used as a loose synonym for the United Kingdom as a whole; the term "Britain" is used both as a synonym for Great Britain, as a synonym for the United Kingdom. Usage is mixed, with the BBC preferring to use Britain as shorthand only for Great Britain and the UK Government, while accepting that both terms refer to the United K
Speaker of the House of Commons (United Kingdom)
The Speaker of the House of Commons is the presiding officer of the House of Commons, the United Kingdom's nominally lower, but more influential, chamber of Parliament. John Bercow was elected Speaker on 22 June 2009, following the resignation of Michael Martin, he was since re-elected, three times, following the general elections in 2010, 2015 and 2017. The Speaker presides over the House's debates; the Speaker is responsible for maintaining order during debate, may punish members who break the rules of the House. Unlike presiding officers of legislatures in many other countries, Speakers remain non-partisan and renounce all affiliation with their former political parties when taking office and afterwards; the Speaker does not take part in vote. Aside from duties relating to presiding over the House, the Speaker performs administrative and procedural functions, remains a constituency Member of Parliament; the Speaker has the obligation to reside in Speaker's House at the Palace of Westminster.
The office of Speaker is as old as Parliament itself. The earliest year for which a presiding officer has been identified is 1258, when Peter de Montfort presided over the Parliament held in Oxford. Early presiding officers were known by prolocutor; the continuous history of the office of Speaker is held to date from 1376 when Sir Peter de la Mare spoke for the commons in the "Good Parliament" as they joined leading magnates in purging the chief ministers of the Crown and the most unpopular members of the king's household. Edward III was frail and in seclusion, it was left to a furious John of Gaunt, to fight back. He arrested disgraced other leading critics. In the next, "Bad Parliament", in 1377, a cowed Commons put forward Gaunt's steward, Thomas Hungerford, as their spokesman in retracting their predecessors' misdeeds of the previous year. Gaunt evidently wanted a "mirror-image" as his form of counter-coup and this notion, born in crisis, of one'speaker', who also became'chairman' and organiser of the Commons' business, was recognised as valuable and took immediate root after 1376–7.
On 6 October 1399, Sir John Cheyne of Beckford was elected speaker. The powerful Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Arundel, is said to have voiced his fears of Cheyne's reputation as a critic of the Church. Eight days Cheyne resigned on grounds of ill-health, although he remained in favour with the king and active in public life for a further 14 years. Although the officer was elected by the Commons at the start of each Parliament, with at least one contested election known, in 1420, in practice the Crown was able to get whom it wanted, indicating that the famous'defence of the Commons' privilege' should not be seen in isolation as the principal thread in the office's evolution. Whilst the principle of giving this spokesman personal immunity from recrimination as only being the voice of the whole body was adopted and did enhance the Commons' role, the Crown found it useful to have one person with the authority to select and lead the lower house's business and responses to the Crown's agenda, much more than not in the way the Crown wanted.
Thus, Whig ideas of the Commons growing in authority as against royal power are somewhat simplistic. Throughout the medieval and early modern period, every speaker was an MP for a county, reflecting the implicit position that such shire representatives were of greater standing in the house than the more numerous burgess MPs. Although evidence is non-existent, it has been surmised that any vote was by count of head, but by the same token the lack of evidence of actual votes suggests that most decisions, at least of a general kind, were reached more through persuasion and the weight by status of the county MPs. In such a situation, the influence of the speaker should not be underestimated. Sir Thomas More was the first speaker to go on to become Lord Chancellor; until the 17th century, members of the House of Commons continued to view their speaker as an agent of the Crown. As Parliament evolved, the Speaker's position grew to involve more duties to the House than to the Crown; this change is sometimes said to be reflected by an incident in 1642, when King Charles I entered the House in order to search for and arrest five members for high treason.
When the King asked him if he knew of the location of these members, the Speaker, William Lenthall, famously replied: "May it please your Majesty, I have neither eyes to see nor tongue to speak in this place but as the House is pleased to direct me, whose servant I am here."The development of Cabinet government under King William III in the late 17th century caused further change in the role of the Speaker. Speakers were associated with the ministry, held other government offices. For example, Robert Harley served as Speaker and as a Secretary of State between 1704 and 1705; the speaker between 1728 and 1761, Arthur Onslow, reduced ties with the government, though the office remained to a large degree political. The speakership evolved into its modern form—in which the holder is an impartial and apolitical officer who does not
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
British government departments
The government of the United Kingdom exercises its executive authority through a number of government departments or departments of state. A department is composed of employed officials, known as civil servants, is politically accountable through a minister. Most major departments are headed by a secretary of state, who sits in the cabinet, supported by a team of junior ministers. There are a number of non-ministerial departments; these are headed by senior civil servants, but are linked to a ministerial department through whose ministers they are accountable to Parliament. Departments serve to implement the policies of Her Majesty's Government, regardless of the government's political composition; as a consequence, officials within government departments are required to adhere to varying levels of political impartiality and neutrality. There are two types of government departments. Ministerial departments are led politically by a government minister a member of the cabinet and cover matters that require direct political oversight.
For most departments, the government minister in question is known as a secretary of state. He or she is supported by a team of junior ministers; the administrative management of a department is led by a senior civil servant, known as a permanent secretary. Subordinate to these ministerial departments are executive agencies. An executive agency has a degree of autonomy to perform an operational function and report to one or more specific government departments, which will set the funding and strategic policy for the agency. At "arm's length" from a parent or sponsor department there can be a number of non-departmental public bodies, known colloquially as quasi-autonomous non-governmental organisations. Non-ministerial departments cover matters for which direct political oversight is judged unnecessary or inappropriate, they are headed by senior civil servants. Some fulfil a regulatory or inspection function, their status is therefore intended to protect them from political interference; some are headed by Second Permanent Secretaries.
Charity Commission for England and Wales Competition and Markets Authority Crown Prosecution Service Food Standards Agency Forestry Commission Government Actuary's Department Government Legal Department Her Majesty's Land Registry Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs National Crime Agency National Savings and Investments Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills Office of Gas and Electricity Markets Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation Office of Rail and Road Ordnance Survey Serious Fraud Office Supreme Court of the United Kingdom The National Archives UK Statistics Authority UK Trade & Investment Water Services Regulation Authority Office of the Prime Minister Politics of the United Kingdom Cabinet Office - UK Government GOV. UK - widest range of government information and services online A list of all public bodies granted Crown copyright
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
John Simon Bercow is a British politician, the Speaker of the House of Commons since June 2009. He concurrently serves as the Member of Parliament for Buckingham. Prior to his election to Speaker, he was a member of the Conservative Party. A former right-winger, he changed his views after becoming an MP and at one time was rumoured to be to defect to the Labour Party. Bercow's election to the Speaker's chair depended on the backing of other parties, was unpopular with many of his former Conservative Party colleagues, he served as a councillor from 1986 to 1990 and unsuccessfully contested parliamentary seats in the 1987 and 1992 general elections. In the 1997 general election, Bercow was elected the MP for Buckingham and promoted to the shadow cabinet in 2001, he held posts in the shadow cabinets of Iain Duncan Michael Howard. In November 2002, he resigned from the shadow cabinet over disputes concerning the Adoption and Children Act but returned under Howard in 2003. In September 2004, Bercow was dismissed after disagreements with Howard.
Following the resignation of Speaker Michael Martin, Bercow announced his intention to stand for the Speakership election on 22 June 2009 and was successful. He remained Speaker and was re-elected in his constituency at the general election on 7 May 2015, he was re-elected as Speaker, when the House sat at the start of the new parliament on 18 May 2015. Following the 2017 general election, Bercow was re-elected, again unopposed, as Speaker, on 13 June 2017, he is the first Speaker since the Second World War to be elected to the post three times. In October 2009, Bercow chaired the United Kingdom Youth Parliament's first annual sitting in the House of Commons, making them the only group except Members of Parliament to sit in the chamber, he has chaired every subsequent sitting and attended every annual conference and supporting Members of Youth Parliament from across the UK. In 2014, Bercow was appointed Chancellor of the University of Bedfordshire, in July 2017 he was appointed Chancellor of the University of Essex.
In October 2018, it was reported that Bercow intended to step down as Speaker in the summer of 2019, due to a report on the failure of high-level figures in Parliament to deal adequately with bullying of staff at Westminster and due to allegations of bullying made against him personally. However, it was reported that Bercow planned "to stay as speaker" until the end of parliament in 2022. Bercow was born in Edgware, the son of Brenda and Charles Bercow, a taxi driver, his father was born to his mother converted to Judaism. His paternal grandparents were Jews. Having settled in the UK, the family anglicised its surname from Berkowitz to Bercow. Bercow attended Frith Manor Primary School in Woodside Park, Finchley Manorhill, a large comprehensive school in North Finchley. In his youth, Bercow had been ranked Britain's No. 1 junior tennis player, but came down with bronchial asthma and was unable to pursue a professional career. Bercow graduated with a first-class honours degree in government from the University of Essex in 1985.
Professor Anthony King said "When he was a student here, he was right-wing, pretty stroppy, good. He was an outstanding student."As a young activist, Bercow was a member of the right-wing Conservative Monday Club. He stood as a candidate for the club's national executive in 1981 with a manifesto calling for a programme of "assisted repatriation" of immigrants, became secretary of its immigration and repatriation committee. However, at the age of 20 he left the club, citing the views of many of the club's members as his reason, has since called his participation in the club "utter madness" and dismissed his views from that period as "bone headed". After graduating from the University of Essex, Bercow was elected as the last national chairman of the Federation of Conservative Students, 1986–87; the FCS was broken up by the chairman of the Conservative Party, Norman Tebbit, after one of its members had accused previous Tory PM Harold Macmillan of war crimes in extraditing Cossacks to the Soviet Union.
Bercow attracted the attention of the Conservative leadership, in 1987 he was appointed by Tebbit as vice-chairman of the Conservative Collegiate Forum to head the campaign for student support in the run-up to the 1987 general election. After a spell in merchant banking, Bercow joined the lobbying firm Rowland Sallingbury Casey in 1988, becoming a board director within five years. With fellow Conservative Julian Lewis, Bercow ran an advanced speaking and campaigning course for over 10 years, which trained over 600 Conservatives in campaigning and communication techniques, he has lectured in the United States to students of the Leadership Institute. In 1986, Bercow was elected as a Conservative councillor in the London Borough of Lambeth, served for four years representing the Streatham, St Leonard's ward. In 1987, he was appointed the youngest deputy group leader in the United Kingdom. In 1995, Bercow was appointed as a special adviser to the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Jonathan Aitken.
After Aitken's resignation to fight a libel action, Bercow served as a special adviser to the Secretary of State for National Heritage, Virginia Bottomley. Bercow was an unsuccessful Conservative candidate in the 1987 general election in Motherwell South, again at the 1992 general election in Bristol South. In 1996 he paid £1,000 to charter a helicopter so that he could attend the selection meetings for two safe Conservative parliamentary seats on the same day – Buckingham and Surrey Heath –
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