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The House of Commons

 

The UK Parliament has two Houses; the House of Lords and the House of Commons. The House of Commons is the more powerful of the two. The Commons is where policies are discussed and laws are made although all Bills must go through both Houses before they become law known as an Act of Parliament.

The members are called MPs (Members of Parliament). 

How are Members of the House of Commons elected?

parliamentAfter the General Election in 2015, in which the nation votes, there were 650 members elected by the geographical area or constituency in which they stood as an election candidate.

All members of the Government including the Prime Minister are elected in this way as they sit in the House of Commons as Members of Parliament for the part of Britain they represent.

For electoral purposes, the United Kingdom is divided into constituencies, each of which returns one member to the House of Commons, the member being the candidate who obtains the largest number of votes cast in the constituency.



House of Commons Facts

  • There are 650 members known as Members of Parliament (MP)
  • There are 191 female MPs making up 29% of the House of Commons
  • 459 MPs are male and 191 women
  • The youngest MP is 20-year-old Mhairi Black, SNP representing Paisley & Renfrewshire South
  • Non-white MPs now make up over 6% of Parliament according to a study by UCL/Birkbeck Universities
  • MP’s were first paid in 1911 at £400 per year
  • Today the basic salary for a Member of Parliament is £67,060 per year

How many Members of Parliament are there from each political party?

Political Party Seats    (Post 2015 UK General Election)
Conservative 330
Labour 232
Liberal Democrat 8
Democratic Unionist 8
Scottish National 56
Sinn Fein 4
Plaid Cymru 3
Social Democratic & Labour 3
Independent 1
Green 1
UK Independence Party 1
Speaker 1
Total number of seats 650

Current working Government Majority is 12*

*Speaker: Rt Hon. John Bercow MP, Deputy Speakers: Mr Lindsay Hoyle, Mrs Eleanor Laing and Dawn Primarolo

Post-2010 General Election

Find out about the 2010 composition of the UK Parliament here

Women in the House of Commons

The first female MP was Countess Constance Markievicz elected to the House of Commons, in 1918. However she did not take her seat, in protest against Britain’s policy in Ireland. The first woman to be elected and take her seat was Viscountess Nancy Astor in 1919. Find out more about Nancy Astor

The first female woman in the Government was Margaret Bondfield - appointed Under Secretary in the Ministry of Labour in 1924.

The Business of the House of Commons

The week’s business in the House of Commons is outlined each Thursday by the Leader of the House, after consultation between the government’s Chief Whip and the Opposition’s Chief Whip.

A quarter to a third of the time will be taken up by the government’s legislative programme and the rest by other business. As a rule, Bills likely to raise political controversy are introduced in the House of Commons before going to the House of Lords, and the House of Commons claims exclusive control in respect of national taxation and expenditure.

A Bill such as the Finance Bill, which imposes taxation and the Consolidation Fund Bills, which authorise expenditure, must begin their passage through Parliament in the House of Commons.

A bill which the financial provisions are subsidiary may begin in the House of Lords, and the House of Commons may waive its rights in regard to House of Lords of amendments affecting finance.

The House of Commons has a public register of its Members financial and other interests; this is published annually as a House of Commons paper. Members of Parliament must also disclose any relevant financial interest or benefit in a matter before the House of Commons when taking part in a debate, in certain other proceedings of the House of Commons, or in consultations with other Members of Parliament, with ministers and civil servants.

Officers and Officials of the House of Commons

The House of Commons is presided over by the Speaker, who has considerable powers to maintain order. A deputy speaker, called the Chairman of Ways and Means, and two deputy chairs may preside over sittings of the House of Commons; they are elected by the House of Commons, and like the Speaker, neither speak nor vote other than in their official capacity.

The staff of the House of Commons are employed by a commission chaired by the Speaker. The heads of the six House of Commons departments are permanent officers of the House of Commons and not Members of Parliament.

The Clerk to the House of Commons is the principal adviser to the Speaker on the privileges and procedures of the House of Commons, the conduct of the business and committees of the House of Commons.

The Serjeant at Arms is responsible for the security and ceremonial functions of the House of Commons.

The Member of Parliament with the longest unbroken time in service is known as the Father of the House. Following the 2015 General Election, this is Sir Gerald Kaufman, Labour MP for Manchester, Gorton, who was first elected to Parliament in 1970.