In modern politics and history, a parliament is a legislative, elected
body of government. Generally, a modern parliament has three
functions: representing the electorate, making laws, and overseeing
the government via hearings and inquiries.
The term is similar to the idea of a senate, synod or congress, and is
commonly used in countries that are current or former monarchies, a
form of government with a monarch as the head. Some contexts restrict
the use of the word parliament to parliamentary systems, although it
is also used to describe the legislature in some presidential systems
(e.g. the French parliament), even where it is not in the official
Historically, parliaments included various kinds of deliberative,
consultative, and judicial assemblies, e.g. mediaeval parlements.
2 Early parliaments
2.2.1 Early forms of assembly
Magna Carta and the Model Parliament
Henry VIII and Edward VI
2.2.4 The importance of the Commonwealth years
2.2.5 Acts of Union
2.4 Nordic and Germanic countries
2.10.1 Novgorod and Pskov
2.11 The Roman Catholic Church
3 Development of modern parliaments
3.1 Parliaments of the United Kingdom
Parliament of Sweden
4 Parliamentary system
5 List of national parliaments
5.1 Parliaments of the European Union
6 List of subnational parliamentary governments
6.12 United Kingdom
7 Other parliaments
7.1 Contemporary supranational parliaments
7.2 Equivalent national legislatures
8 See also
10 External links
The English term is derived from Anglo-Norman and dates to the 14th
century, coming from the 11th century
Old French parlement, from
parler, meaning "to talk". The meaning evolved over time,
originally referring to any discussion, conversation, or negotiation
through various kinds of deliberative or judicial groups, often
summoned by a monarch. By the 15th century, in Britain, it had come to
specifically mean the legislature.
See also: History of Parliamentarism
Since ancient times, when societies were tribal, there were councils
or a headman whose decisions were assessed by village elders. This is
called tribalism. Some scholars suggest that in ancient Mesopotamia
there was a primitive democratic government where the kings were
assessed by council. The same has been said about ancient India,
where some form of deliberative assemblies existed, and therefore
there was some form of democracy. However, these claims are not
accepted by most scholars, who see these forms of government as
Ancient Athens was the cradle of democracy. The Athenian assembly
(ἐκκλησία, ekklesia) was the most important institution, and
every citizen could take part in the discussions. However, Athenian
democracy was not representative, but rather direct, and therefore the
ekklesia was different from the parliamentary system.
Roman Republic had legislative assemblies, who had the final say
regarding the election of magistrates, the enactment of new statutes,
the carrying out of capital punishment, the declaration of war and
peace, and the creation (or dissolution) of alliances. The Roman
Senate controlled money, administration, and the details of foreign
Some Muslim scholars argue that the Islamic shura (a method of taking
decisions in Islamic societies) is analogous to the parliament.
However, others highlight what they consider fundamental differences
between the shura system and the parliamentary system.
Congress of Deputies, lower house of the Spanish Parliament.
Main article: Cortes Generales
Although there are documented councils held in 873, 1020, 1050 and
1063, there was no representation of commoners. What is considered to
be the first Spanish parliament (with the presence of commoners), the
Cortes of León, was held in the
Kingdom of León
Kingdom of León in 1188.
According to the UNESCO, the Decreta of Leon of 1188 is the oldest
documentary manifestation of the European parliamentary system. In
addition, UNESCO granted the 1188 Cortes of
Alfonso IX the title of
"Memory of the World" and the city of Leon has been recognized as the
"Cradle of Parliamentarism".
After coming to power, King Alfonso IX, facing an attack by his two
neighbors, Castile and Portugal, decided to summon the "Royal Curia".
This was a medieval organisation composed of aristocrats and bishops
but because of the seriousness of the situation and the need to
maximise political support,
Alfonso IX took the decision to also call
the representatives of the urban middle class from the most important
cities of the kingdom to the assembly. León's Cortes dealt with
matters like the right to private property, the inviolability of
domicile, the right to appeal to justice opposite the King and the
obligation of the King to consult the Cortes before entering a
war. Prelates, nobles and commoners met separately in the three
estates of the Cortes. In this meeting new laws were approved to
protect commoners against the arbitrarities of nobles, prelates and
the king. This important set of laws is known as the Carta Magna
Following this event, new Cortes would appear in the other different
territories that would make up Spain:
Principality of Catalonia
Principality of Catalonia in
Kingdom of Castile
Kingdom of Castile in 1250,
Kingdom of Aragon
Kingdom of Aragon in 1274,
Kingdom of Valencia
Kingdom of Valencia in 1283 and
Kingdom of Navarre
Kingdom of Navarre in 1300.
After the union of the Kingdoms of Leon and Castile under the Crown of
Castile, their Cortes were united as well in 1258. The Castilian
Cortes had representatives from Burgos, Toledo, León, Seville,
Córdoba, Murcia, Jaén, Zamora, Segovia, Ávila, Salamanca, Cuenca,
Toro, Valladolid, Soria, Madrid, Guadalajara and Granada (after 1492).
The Cortes' assent was required to pass new taxes, and could also
advise the king on other matters. The comunero rebels intended a
stronger role for the Cortes, but were defeated by the forces of
Habsburg Emperor Charles V in 1521. The Cortes maintained some power,
however, though it became more of a consultative entity. However, by
the time of King Philip II, Charles's son, the Castilian Cortes had
come under functionally complete royal control, with its delegates
dependent on the Crown for their income.
The Cortes of the
Crown of Aragon
Crown of Aragon kingdoms retained their power to
control the king's spending with regard to the finances of those
kingdoms. But after the
War of the Spanish Succession
War of the Spanish Succession and the victory
of another royal house – the Bourbons – and King Philip V, their
Cortes were suppressed (those of
Aragon and Valencia in 1707, and
Catalonia and the
Balearic islands in 1714).
Spain was united under the
Catholic Monarchs in the late
15th century are belied by these facts; moreover, the very first
Cortes representing the whole of
Spain (and the Spanish empire of the
day) did not assemble until 1812, in Cadiz, where it operated as a
government in exile for, ironically, at that time most of the rest of
Spain was in the hands of Napoleon's army.
Parliament of England
Early forms of assembly
England has long had a tradition of a body of men who would assist and
advise the king on important matters. Under the
there was an advisory council, the Witenagemot. The name derives from
Old English ƿitena ȝemōt, or witena gemōt, for "meeting of
wise men". The first recorded act of a witenagemot was the law code
issued by King Æthelberht of Kent ca. 600, the earliest document
which survives in sustained
Old English prose; however, the witan was
certainly in existence long before this time. The Witan, along
with the folkmoots (local assemblies), is an important ancestor of the
modern English parliament.
As part of the Norman Conquest of England, the new king, William I,
did away with the Witenagemot, replacing it with a Curia Regis
("King's Council"). Membership of the Curia was largely restricted to
the tenants in chief, the few nobles who "rented" great estates
directly from the king, along with ecclesiastics. William brought to
England the feudal system of his native Normandy, and sought the
advice of the curia regis before making laws. This is the original
body from which the Parliament, the higher courts of law, and the
Privy Council and Cabinet descend. Of these, the legislature is
formally the High Court of Parliament; judges sit in the Supreme Court
of Judicature. Only the executive government is no longer conducted in
a royal court.
Most historians date the emergence of a parliament with some degree of
power to which the throne had to defer no later than the rule of
Edward I. Like previous kings, Edward called leading nobles and
church leaders to discuss government matters, especially finance. A
meeting in 1295 became known as the
Model Parliament because it set
the pattern for later Parliaments. The significant difference between
Model Parliament and the earlier
Curia Regis was the addition of
the Commons; that is, the inclusion of elected representatives of
rural landowners and of townsmen. In 1307, Edward I agreed not to
collect certain taxes without the consent of the realm. He also
enlarged the court system.
Magna Carta and the Model Parliament
A 1215 edition of the Magna Carta, as featured on display at the
The tenants-in-chief often struggled with their spiritual counterparts
and with the king for power. In 1215, they secured from John the Magna
Carta, which established that the king may not levy or collect any
taxes (except the feudal taxes to which they were hitherto
accustomed), save with the consent of a council. It was also
established that the most important tenants-in-chief and ecclesiastics
be summoned to the council by personal writs from the sovereign, and
that all others be summoned to the council by general writs from the
sheriffs of their counties. Modern government has its origins in the
Curia Regis; parliament descends from the Great Council later known as
the parliamentum established by Magna Carta.
During the reign of King Henry III, 13th-Century English Parliaments
incorporated elected representatives from shires and towns. These
parliaments are, as such, considered forerunners of the modern
In 1265, Simon de Montfort, then in rebellion against Henry III,
summoned a parliament of his supporters without royal authorization.
The archbishops, bishops, abbots, earls, and barons were summoned, as
were two knights from each shire and two burgesses from each borough.
Knights had been summoned to previous councils, but it was
unprecedented for the boroughs to receive any representation. Come
1295, Edward I later adopted de Montfort's ideas for representation
and election in the so-called "Model Parliament". At first, each
estate debated independently; by the reign of Edward III, however,
Parliament recognisably assumed its modern form, with authorities
dividing the legislative body into two separate chambers.
Henry VIII and Edward VI
The purpose and structure of
Parliament in Tudor England underwent a
significant transformation under the reign of Henry VIII. Originally
its methods were primarily medieval, and the monarch still possessed a
form of inarguable dominion over its decisions. According to Elton, it
was Thomas Cromwell, 1st
Earl of Essex, then chief minister to Henry
VIII, who initiated still other changes within parliament.
The Reformation Acts supplied
Parliament with unlimited power over the
country. This included authority over virtually every matter, whether
social, economic, political, or religious; it
legalised the Reformation, officially and indisputably. The king had
to rule through the council, not over it, and all sides needed to
reach a mutual agreement when creating or passing laws, adjusting or
implementing taxes, or changing religious doctrines. This was
significant: the monarch no longer had sole control over the country.
For instance, during the later years of Mary,
Parliament exercised its
authority in originally rejecting Mary's bid to revive Catholicism in
the realm. Later on, the legislative body even denied Elizabeth her
request to marry. If
Parliament had possessed this
power before Cromwell, such as when Wolsey served as secretary, the
Reformation may never have happened, as the king would have had to
gain the consent of all parliament members before so drastically
changing the country's religious laws and fundamental
The power of
Parliament increased considerably after Cromwell's
adjustments. It also provided the country with unprecedented
stability. More stability, in turn, helped assure more effective
management, organisation, and efficiency.
Parliament printed statutes
and devised a more coherent parliamentary procedure.
The rise of
Parliament proved especially important in the sense that
it limited the repercussions of dynastic complications that had so
often plunged England into civil war.
Parliament still ran the country
even in the absence of suitable heirs to throne, and its legitimacy as
a decision-making body reduced the royal prerogatives of kings like
Henry VIII and the importance of their whims. For example, Henry VIII
could not simply establish supremacy by proclamation; he required
Parliament to enforce statutes and add felonies and treasons. An
important liberty for
Parliament was its freedom of speech; Henry
allowed anything to be spoken openly within
Parliament and speakers
could not face arrest — a fact which they exploited incessantly.
Parliament in Henry VIII's time offered up very little
objection to the monarch's desires. Under his and Edward's reign, the
legislative body complied willingly with the majority of the kings'
Much of this compliance stemmed from how the English viewed and
traditionally understood authority. As Williams described it, "King
and parliament were not separate entities, but a single body, of which
the monarch was the senior partner and the Lords and the
lesser, but still essential, members.".
The importance of the Commonwealth years
The statue of Oliver Cromwell, as it stands outside the House of
Commons at the Palace of Westminster.
Although its role in government expanded significantly during the
Henry VIII and Edward VI, the
Parliament of England
Parliament of England saw some
of its most important gains in the 17th century. A series of conflicts
between the Crown and
Parliament culminated in the execution of King
Charles I in 1649. Afterward, England became a commonwealth, with
Oliver Cromwell, its lord protector, the de facto ruler. Frustrated
with its decisions, Cromwell purged and suspended
A controversial figure accused of despotism, war crimes, and even
genocide, Cromwell is nonetheless regarded as essential to the growth
of democracy in England. The years of the Commonwealth, coupled
with the restoration of the monarchy in 1660 and the subsequent
Glorious Revolution of 1688, helped reinforce and strengthen
Parliament as an institution separate from the Crown.
Acts of Union
Parliament of England
Parliament of England met until it merged with the
Scotland under the Acts of Union. This union created the new
Parliament of Great Britain
Parliament of Great Britain in 1707.
Parliament of Scotland
The debating chamber of the reconvened
Scottish Parliament from the
From the 10th century the
Kingdom of Alba
Kingdom of Alba was ruled by chiefs
(toisechs) and subkings (mormaers) under the suzerainty, real or
nominal, of a High King. Popular assemblies, as in Ireland, were
involved in law-making, and sometimes in king-making, although the
introduction of tanistry—naming a successor in the lifetime of a
king—made the second less than common. These early assemblies cannot
be considered "parliaments" in the later sense of the word, and were
entirely separate from the later, Norman-influenced, institution.
Parliament of Scotland
Parliament of Scotland evolved during the
Middle Ages from the
King's Council of Bishops and Earls. The unicameral parliament is
first found on record, referred to as a colloquium, in 1235 at
Kirkliston (a village now in Edinburgh).
By the early fourteenth century the attendance of knights and
freeholders had become important, and from 1326 burgh commissioners
attended. Consisting of the Three Estates; of clerics, lay
tenants-in-chief and burgh commissioners sitting in a single chamber,
the Scottish parliament acquired significant powers over particular
issues. Most obviously it was needed for consent for taxation
(although taxation was only raised irregularly in
Scotland in the
medieval period), but it also had a strong influence over justice,
foreign policy, war, and all manner of other legislation, whether
political, ecclesiastical, social or economic. Parliamentary business
was also carried out by "sister" institutions, before c. 1500 by
General Council and thereafter by the Convention of Estates. These
could carry out much business also dealt with by
taxation, legislation and policy-making – but lacked the ultimate
authority of a full parliament.
The parliament, which is also referred to as the Estates of Scotland,
the Three Estates, the Scots
Parliament or the auld Scots Parliament
(Eng: old), met until the Acts of Union merged the
Scotland and the
Parliament of England, creating the new
Great Britain in 1707.
Following the Scottish devolution referendum, 1997, and the passing of
Scotland Act 1998
Scotland Act 1998 by the
Parliament of the United Kingdom, the
Scottish Parliament was reconvened on 1 July 1999, although with much
more limited powers than its 18th-century predecessor. The parliament
has sat since 2004 at its newly constructed Scottish Parliament
Building in Edinburgh, situated at the foot of the Royal Mile, next to
the royal palace of Holyroodhouse.
Nordic and Germanic countries
Iceland's parliament House, at Austurvöllur in Reykjavík, built in
1880–1881. Home of one of the oldest still-acting parliaments in the
A thing or ting (
Old Norse and Icelandic: þing; other modern
Scandinavian: ting, ding in Dutch) was the governing assembly in
Germanic societies, made up of the free men of the community and
presided by lawspeakers.
The thing was the assembly of the free men of a country, province or a
hundred (hundare/härad/herred). There were consequently, hierarchies
of things, so that the local things were represented at the thing for
a larger area, for a province or land. At the thing, disputes were
solved and political decisions were made. The place for the thing was
often also the place for public religious rites and for commerce.
The thing met at regular intervals, legislated, elected chieftains and
kings, and judged according to the law, which was memorised and
recited by the "law speaker" (the judge).
The Icelandic, Faroese and Manx parliaments trace their origins back
Viking expansion originating from the Petty kingdoms of Norway
as well as Denmark, replicating Viking government systems in the
conquered territories, such as those represented by the
Bergen in western Norway.
The Icelandic Althing, dating to 930.
The Faroese Løgting, dating to a similar period.
The Manx Tynwald, which claims to be over 1,000 years old.
Later national diets with chambers for different estates developed,
Sweden and in Finland (which was part of
Sweden until 1809),
each with a House of Knights for the nobility. In both these
countries, the national parliaments are now called riksdag (in Finland
also eduskunta), a word used since the
Middle Ages and equivalent of
the German word Reichstag.
Today the term lives on in the official names of national
legislatures, political and judicial institutions in the
North-Germanic countries. In the
Yorkshire and former
Danelaw areas of
England, which were subject to much Norse invasion and settlement, the
wapentake was another name for the same institution.
The Sicilian Parliament, dating to 1097, evolved as the legislature of
the Kingdom of Sicily.
The Federal Diet of Switzerland
The Federal Diet of
Switzerland was one of the longest-lived
representative bodies in history, continuing from the 13th century to
Main article: French States-General
Originally, there was only the
Parliament of Paris, born out of the
Curia Regis in 1307, and located inside the medieval royal palace, now
the Paris Hall of Justice. The jurisdiction of the
Parliament of Paris
covered the entire kingdom. In the thirteenth century, judicial
functions were added. In 1443, following the turmoil of the Hundred
Years' War, King
Charles VII of France
Charles VII of France granted
Languedoc its own
parliament by establishing the
Parliament of Toulouse, the first
parliament outside of Paris, whose jurisdiction extended over the most
part of southern France. From 1443 until the
French Revolution several
other parliaments were created in some provinces of France (Grenoble,
All the parliaments could issue regulatory decrees for the application
of royal edicts or of customary practices; they could also refuse to
register laws that they judged contrary to fundamental law or simply
as being untimely. Parliamentary power in France was suppressed more
so than in England as a result of absolutism, and parliaments were
eventually overshadowed by the larger Estates General, up until the
French Revolution, when the National Assembly became the lower house
of France's bicameral legislature.
Chamber of the
Sejm showing the hemicycle seating pattern.
According to the Chronicles of Gallus Anonymus, the first legendary
Polish ruler, Siemowit, who began the Piast Dynasty, was chosen by a
wiec. The veche (Russian: вече, Polish: wiec) was a popular
assembly in medieval Slavic countries, and in late medieval period, a
parliament. The idea of the wiec led in 1182 to the development of the
Polish parliament, the Sejm.
The term "sejm" comes from an old Polish expression denoting a meeting
of the populace. The power of early sejms grew between 1146–1295,
when the power of individual rulers waned and various councils and
wiece grew stronger. The history of the national
Sejm dates back to
1182. Since the 14th century irregular sejms (described in various
Latin sources as contentio generalis, conventio magna, conventio
solemna, parlamentum, parlamentum generale, dieta or Polish sejm
walny) have been called by Polish kings. From 1374, the king had to
receive sejm permission to raise taxes. The General
Sejm (Polish Sejm
Sejm Walny), first convoked by the king John I Olbracht
in 1493 near Piotrków, evolved from earlier regional and provincial
meetings (sejmiks). It followed most closely the sejmik generally,
which arose from the 1454 Nieszawa Statutes, granted to the szlachta
(nobles) by King Casimir IV the Jagiellonian. From 1493 forward,
indirect elections were repeated every two years. With the development
of the unique Polish
Golden Liberty the Sejm's powers increased.
The Commonwealth's general parliament consisted of three estates: the
King of Poland (who also acted as the Grand Duke of Lithuania,
Russia/Ruthenia, Prussia, Mazovia, etc.), the Senat (consisting of
Ministers, Palatines, Castellans and Bishops) and the Chamber of
Envoys—circa 170 nobles (szlachta) acting on behalf of their Lands
and sent by Land Parliaments. Also representatives of selected cities
but without any voting powers. Since 1573 at a royal election all
peers of the Commonwealth could participate in the
become the King's electors.
Zaporizhian Sich Rada
Cossack Rada was the legislative body of a military republic of the
Ukrainian Cossacks that grew rapidly in the 15th century from serfs
fleeing the more controlled parts of the Polish Lithuanian
Commonwealth. The republic did not regard social origin/nobility and
accepted all people who declared to be Orthodox Christians.
Originally established at the Zaporizhian Sich, the rada (council) was
an institution of Cossack administration in
Ukraine from the 16th to
the 18th century. With the establishment of the Hetman state in 1648,
it was officially known as the General Military Council until 1750.
State Duma of the Federal Assembly of Russia
The zemsky sobor (Russian: зе́мский собо́р) was the
first Russian parliament of the feudal Estates type, in the 16th and
17th centuries. The term roughly means assembly of the land.
It could be summoned either by tsar, or patriarch, or the Boyar Duma.
Three categories of population, comparable to the Estates-General of
France but with the numbering of the first two Estates reversed,
participated in the assembly:
Nobility and high bureaucracy, including the Boyar Duma
The Holy Sobor of high Orthodox clergy
Representatives of merchants and townspeople (third estate)
The name of the parliament of nowadays Russian Federation is the
Federal Assembly of Russia. The term for its lower house, State Duma
(which is better known than the Federal Assembly itself, and is often
mistaken for the entirety of the parliament) comes from the Russian
word думать (dumat), "to think". The Boyar Duma was an advisory
council to the grand princes and tsars of Muscovy. The Duma was
discontinued by Peter the Great, who transferred its functions to the
Senate in 1711.
Novgorod and Pskov
The veche was the highest legislature and judicial authority in the
republic of Novgorod until 1478. In its sister state, Pskov, a
separate veche operated until 1510.
Since the Novgorod revolution of 1137 ousted the ruling grand prince,
the veche became the supreme state authority. After the reforms of
1410, the veche was restructured on a model similar to that of Venice,
Commons chamber of the parliament. An upper Senate-like
Council of Lords was also created, with title membership for all
former city magistrates. Some sources indicate that veche membership
may have become full-time, and parliament deputies were now called
vechniks. It is recounted that the Novgorod assembly could be summoned
by anyone who rung the veche bell, although it is more likely that the
common procedure was more complex. This bell was a symbol of
republican sovereignty and independence. The whole population of the
city—boyars, merchants, and common citizens—then gathered at
Yaroslav's Court. Separate assemblies could be held in the districts
of Novgorod. In Pskov the veche assembled in the court of the Trinity
The Roman Catholic Church
Main article: Conciliarism
"Conciliarism" or the "conciliar movement", was a reform movement in
the 14th and 15th century
Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church which held that final
authority in spiritual matters resided with the Roman Church as
corporation of Christians, embodied by a general church council, not
with the pope. In effect, the movement sought – ultimately, in vain
– to create an All-Catholic Parliament. Its struggle with the Papacy
had many points in common with the struggle of parliaments in specific
countries against the authority of Kings and other secular rulers.
Development of modern parliaments
The development of the modern concept of parliamentary government
dates back to the
Kingdom of Great Britain
Kingdom of Great Britain (1707–1800) and the
parliamentary system in
Sweden during the Age of Liberty
Parliaments of the United Kingdom
Parliament of Great Britain
Parliament of Great Britain and
Parliament of the
Parliament in the Making
The Palace of Westminster, London
Parliament is often referred to as the Mother of
Parliaments (in fact a misquotation of John Bright, who remarked in
1865 that "England is the Mother of Parliaments") because the British
Parliament has been the model for most other parliamentary systems,
and its Acts have created many other parliaments. Many nations
with parliaments have to some degree emulated the British "three-tier"
model. Most countries in Europe and the Commonwealth have similarly
organised parliaments with a largely ceremonial head of state who
formally opens and closes parliament, a large elected lower house and
a smaller, upper house.
Parliament of Great Britain
Parliament of Great Britain was formed in 1707 by the Acts of
Union that replaced the former parliaments of England and Scotland. A
further union in 1801 united the
Parliament of Great Britain
Parliament of Great Britain and the
Parliament of Ireland
Parliament of Ireland into a
Parliament of the United Kingdom.
In the United Kingdom,
Parliament consists of the House of Commons,
the House of Lords, and the Monarch. The House of
Commons is composed
of 650 (soon to be 600) members who are directly elected by British
citizens to represent single-member constituencies. The leader of a
Party that wins more than half the seats, or less than half but is
able to gain the support of smaller parties to achieve a majority in
the house is invited by the
Monarch to form a government. The House of
Lords is a body of long-serving, unelected members:
Lords Temporal -
92 of whom inherit their titles (and of whom 90 are elected internally
by members of the House to lifetime seats), 588 of whom have been
appointed to lifetime seats, and
Lords Spiritual - 26 bishops, who are
part of the house while they remain in office.
Legislation can originate from either the Lords or the Commons. It is
voted on in several distinct stages, called readings, in each house.
First reading is merely a formality. Second reading is where the bill
as a whole is considered. Third reading is detailed consideration of
clauses of the bill.
In addition to the three readings a bill also goes through a committee
stage where it is considered in great detail. Once the bill has been
passed by one house it goes to the other and essentially repeats the
process. If after the two sets of readings there are disagreements
between the versions that the two houses passed it is returned to the
first house for consideration of the amendments made by the second. If
it passes through the amendment stage
Royal Assent is granted and the
bill becomes law as an Act of Parliament.
House of Lords
House of Lords is the less powerful of the two houses as a result
Parliament Acts 1911 and 1949. These Acts removed the veto
power of the Lords over a great deal of legislation. If a bill is
certified by the Speaker of the House of
Commons as a money bill (i.e.
acts raising taxes and similar) then the Lords can only block it for a
month. If an ordinary bill originates in the
Commons the Lords can
only block it for a maximum of one session of Parliament. The
exceptions to this rule are things like bills to prolong the life of a
Parliament beyond five years.
In addition to functioning as the second chamber of Parliament, the
House of Lords
House of Lords was also the final court of appeal for much of the law
of the United Kingdom—a combination of judicial and legislative
function that recalls its origin in the Curia Regis. This changed in
October 2009 when the
Supreme Court of the United Kingdom
Supreme Court of the United Kingdom opened and
acquired the former jurisdiction of the House of Lords.
Since 1999, there has been a
Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh, which
is a national, unicameral legislature for Scotland. However, the
Scottish Parliament does not have complete power over Scottish
Politics, as it only holds the powers which were devolved to it by
Westminster in 1997. It cannot legislate on defence issues, currency,
or national taxation (e.g. VAT, or Income Tax). Additionally, the
Scottish Parliament can be dissolved at any given time by the British
Parliament without the consent of the devolved government. This
applies to all devolved governments within the United Kingdom, a limit
on the sovereignty of the devolved governments.
Parliament of Sweden
Main article: Age of Liberty
In Sweden, the half-century period of parliamentary government
beginning with Charles XII's death in 1718 and ending with Gustav
III's self-coup in 1772 is known as the Age of Liberty. During this
period, civil rights were expanded and power shifted from the monarch
While suffrage did not become universal, the taxed peasantry was
represented in Parliament, although with little influence and
commoners without taxed property had no suffrage at all.
Nations with bicameral legislatures.
Nations with unicameral legislatures.
Many parliaments are part of a parliamentary system of government, in
which the executive is constitutionally answerable to the parliament.
Some restrict the use of the word parliament to parliamentary systems,
while others use the word for any elected legislative body.
Parliaments usually consist of chambers or houses, and are usually
either bicameral or unicameral although more complex models exist, or
have existed (see Tricameralism).
In some parliamentary systems, the prime minister (PM) is a member of
parliament (Britain), whereas in others not (Netherlands). They are
commonly the leader of the majority party in the lower house of
parliament, but only hold the office as long as the "confidence of the
house" is maintained. If members of the lower house lose faith in the
leader for whatever reason, they can call a vote of no confidence and
force the PM to resign.
This can be particularly dangerous to a government when the
distribution of seats among different parties is relatively even, in
which case a new election is often called shortly thereafter. However,
in case of general discontent with the head of government, his
replacement can be made very smoothly without all the complications
that it represents in the case of a presidential system.
The parliamentary system can be contrasted with a presidential system,
such as the American congressional system, which operates under a
stricter separation of powers, whereby the executive does not form
part of, nor is it appointed by, the parliamentary or legislative
body. In such a system, congresses do not select or dismiss heads of
governments, and governments cannot request an early dissolution as
may be the case for parliaments. Some states, such as
of China), have a semi-presidential system which falls between
parliamentary and congressional systems, combining a powerful head of
state (president) with a head of government, the prime minister, who
is responsible to parliament.
List of national parliaments
See also: List of legislatures by country
The centre block of the
Parliament of Canada
Parliament of Canada Building in Ottawa
Hungarian Parliament Building
Hungarian Parliament Building in Budapest
Austrian Parliament Building
Austrian Parliament Building in Vienna
House of the National Assembly of Serbia
House of the National Assembly of Serbia in Belgrade
Parliament of Bangladesh
Parliament of Bangladesh in Dhaka
National Diet Building
National Diet Building in Tokyo
Parliament House of Islamic Republic of Pakistan
Assembly of Deputies, The
Parliament Building of Lebanon
Parliament House (Sansad Bhavan), seen from
Rajpath in New Delhi,
Parliament House, Canberra, Australia
Parliaments of the European Union
Parliament of Austria
Parliament of Austria (consisting of the National Council and the
Belgian Federal Parliament
Belgian Federal Parliament (consisting of the Chamber of
Representatives and the Senate)
National Assembly of Bulgaria
House of Representatives (Cyprus)
Parliament of the Czech Republic
Parliament of the Czech Republic (consisting of the Chamber of
Deputies and the Senate)
Parliament of Finland
Parliament of France
Parliament of France (consisting of the National Assembly and the
Bundestag and Bundesrat (Germany)
Hellenic Parliament (Greece)
National Assembly (Hungary)
Oireachtas (Ireland) (consisting of the President of Ireland, Dáil
Éireann (Lower House) and
Seanad Éireann (Senate))
Parliament of Italy
Parliament of Italy (consisting of the Chamber of Deputies and the
Chamber of Deputies (Luxembourg)
House of Representatives (Malta)
States General of the Netherlands
States General of the Netherlands (consisting of the House of
Representatives and the Senate)
National Assembly of the Republic of Poland
National Assembly of the Republic of Poland (consisting of the Sejm
and the Senate)
Assembly of the Republic (Portugal)
Parliament of Romania
Parliament of Romania (consisting of the Chamber of Deputies and the
National Council (Slovakia)
Parliament of Slovenia
Parliament of Slovenia (consisting of the National Assembly and the
Cortes Generales (Spain) (consisting of the
Congress of Deputies and
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Parliament of the United Kingdom (consisting of the Queen, the House
Commons and the House of Lords)
Parliament of Albania
Australia (consisting of the Queen, the House of
Representatives, and the Senate)
The federal government of the Commonwealth of
Australia has a
bicameral parliament and each of Australia's six states has a
bicameral parliament except for Queensland, which has a unicameral
Parliament of The Bahamas
Jatiya Sangsad (Bangladesh)
Parliament of Barbados
Parliament of Canada
Parliament of Canada (consisting of the Queen, an Upper House styled
the Senate, and the House of Commons)
The federal government of Canada has a bicameral parliament, and each
of Canada's 10 provinces has a unicameral parliament.
Congress of the People's Republic of China
Legislative Council of Hong Kong
Løgtingið (Faroe Islands)
Parliament of Fiji
Parliament of Ghana
Parliament of Iceland
India (consisting of the
Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha)
Council of Representatives of Iraq
National Diet of Japan
National Diet of Japan (consisting of the House of Representatives and
the House of Councillors)
Parliament of Lebanon
Assembly of the Republic of Macedonia
Parliament of the Isle of Man – Tynwald
Parliament of Malaysia
Parliament of Montenegro
Parliament of Morocco
Parliament of Nauru
Parliament of Nepal
Parliament of Nepal (recently reorganised)
Parliament of New Zealand
Parliament of Norway
Parliament of Norway (Storting)
National Assembly of Serbia
Parliament of Singapore
Parliament of South Africa
Parliament of Sri Lanka
National Assembly of Thailand
Parliament of the Central Tibetan Administration
Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago
Grand National Assembly of Turkey
Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine
Parliament of Zimbabwe
List of subnational parliamentary governments
Main article: Parliaments of the Australian states and territories
Australia's States and territories:
Parliament of New South Wales
Parliament of Victoria
Parliament of Queensland
Parliament of Western Australia
Parliament of South Australia
Parliament of Tasmania
Australian Capital Territory Legislative Assembly
Parliament of the Northern Territory
In the federal (bicameral) kingdom of Belgium, there is a curious
asymmetrical constellation serving as directly elected legislatures
for three "territorial" regions—
Flanders (Dutch), Brussels
(bilingual, certain peculiarities of competence, also the only region
not comprising any of the 10 provinces) and
three cultural communities—Flemish (Dutch, competent in
for the Dutch-speaking inhabitants of Brussels), Francophone (French,
Wallonia and for Francophones in Brussels) and German (for
speakers of that language in a few designated municipalities in the
east of the Walloon Region, living alongside Francophones but under
two different regimes)
Flemish Parliament served both the Flemish Community (whose same it
uses) and, in application of a Belgian constitutional option, of the
Flanders (in all matters of regional competence, its
decisions have no effect in Brussels-Capital Region)
Parliament of the French Community
Parliament of the German-speaking Community
Parliament of Wallonia
Parliament of the Brussels-Capital Region;
within the capital's regional assembly however, there also exist two
so-called Community Commissions (fixed numbers, not an automatic
repartition of the regional assembly), a Dutch-speaking one and a
Francophone one, for various matters split up by linguistic community
but under Brussels' regional competence, and even 'joint community
commissions' consisting of both for certain institutions that could be
split up but are not.
Main article: Legislative assemblies of Canadian provinces and
Canada's provinces and territories:
Legislature of Ontario
General Assembly of Nova Scotia
New Brunswick Legislature
Parliament of British Columbia
General Assembly of Prince Edward Island
General Assembly of Newfoundland and Labrador
Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories
Yukon Legislative Assembly
Legislative Assembly of Nunavut
Parliament of Åland
State legislatures of Germany
Main article: State legislative assemblies of Malaysia
Main article: Subnational parliamentary system in Norway
Main article: List of Spanish regional legislatures
Main article: List of cantonal legislatures of Switzerland
Contemporary supranational parliaments
International parliament and Inter-parliamentary
List is not exhaustive
Central American Parliament
Latin American Parliament
Equivalent national legislatures
Majlis, e.g. in Iran
Wolesi Jirga (elected, legislative lower house) and
Meshrano Jirga (mainly advisory, indirect representation); in special
cases, e.g. as constituent assembly, a Loya Jirga
in Indonesia: People's Consultative Assembly, consists of People's
Representative Council (elected, legislative lower house) and Regional
Representative Council (elected, legislative upper house with limited
Parliament of Southern
People's Parliament (1940s)
Silesian Parliament (1922–1945)
Parliament of Northern
Batasang Pambansâ (1978-1986)
National Assembly of the Republic of China
National Assembly of the Republic of China (1913–2005)
History of democracy
Parliament of the World's Religions
List of current presidents of assembly
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Commons has media related to Parliaments.
The International Association of Business and
Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Parliament". Encyclopædia
Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
United Kingdom Parliament