The New Student's Reference Work/Parliament
Par′liament, the name given in England to the national assembly and meaning a gathering for discussion, from the French word parler “to talk.” It consists of two bodies, called the house of lords and the house of commons. The house of lords is composed of the lords spiritual or the clergy, represented by the archbishops of Canterbury and York and 32 bishops; and of the lords temporal, who represent the noble families of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. The titles used are duke, marquis, earl, viscount and baron, and they are commonly called peers. The crown has the right to make new peers in addition to those who inherit their titles. In 1907 there were 616 peers on the roll of the house of lords. The chief officer of the house of lords is the chancellor or keeper of the great seal, who acts as speaker but does not keep order. The house of commons consists of members elected by the people, representing counties, towns and the universities. The larger counties and towns (or boroughs) art divided into districts, each one being entitled to a representative. There are 670 members in the house of commons, 30 from Wales, 72 from Scotland, 103 from Ireland and 465 from England. The chief officer of the house of commons is the speaker, chosen by the members. The members receive no salary, but have certain privileges. Parliament is called or dismissed by the government, but by law there cannot be more than three years between the closing of one parliament and the calling of a new one, and no parliament can hold its sessions longer than seven years. The decisions of Parliament cannot be changed by any court of law. The houses of parliament are in Westminster, a part of London. The acts of Parliament must receive the approval of the reigning sovereign, which is obtained through the ministers or members of the cabinet council. The royal assent has been given to every bill which has passed the two houses since the time of Queen Anne. The name dates to the 13th century, and the conflicts between the people and the throne, which have gradually increased the powers of Parliament, are the chief theme of English history.