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Parliament of Great Britain

Parliament of the Kingdom of Great Britain
Coat of arms or logo
Houses House of Lords
House of Commons
Established 1 May 1707
Disbanded 31 December 1800
Preceded by Parliament of England
Parliament of Scotland
Succeeded by Parliament of the United Kingdom
Lord Loughborough
since 1793
Henry Addington
since 1789
Ennoblement by the Sovereign or inheritance of a peerage
First-past-the-post with limited suffrage
Meeting place
Westminster 16C.jpg
Palace of Westminster, Westminster, London
See also:
Parliament of Ireland

The Parliament of Great Britain was formed in 1707 following the ratification of the Acts of Union by both the Parliament of England and the Parliament of Scotland. The Acts created a new unified Kingdom of Great Britain and dissolved the separate English and Scottish parliaments in favour of a single parliament, located in the former home of the English parliament in the Palace of Westminster, near the City of London. This lasted nearly a century, until the Acts of Union 1800 merged the separate British and Irish Parliaments into a single Parliament of the United Kingdom with effect from 1 January 1801.


  • Origins 1
  • Parliament of the United Kingdom 2
  • See also 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5


Following the Treaty of Union in 1706, Acts of Union ratifying the Treaty were passed in both the Parliament of England and the Parliament of Scotland, which created a new Kingdom of Great Britain.[1][2] The Acts dissolved both parliaments, replacing them with a new parliament, referred to as the 'Parliament of Great Britain', based in the home of the former English parliament. All of the traditions, procedures, and standing orders of the English parliament were retained, as were the incumbent officers, and members representing England comprised the overwhelming majority of the new body. It was not even considered necessary to hold a new general election. While Scots law and Scottish legislation remained separate, new legislation was thereafter to be enacted by the new parliament.[3]

After the patronage, but had ceased to exert direct power: for instance, the last occasion on which the Royal Assent was withheld was in 1708 by Queen Anne.[4] At general elections the vote was restricted to freeholders and landowners, in constituencies that had changed little since the Middle Ages, so that in many "rotten" and "pocket" boroughs seats could be bought, while major cities remained unrepresented, except by the Knights of the Shire representing whole counties. Reformers and Radicals sought parliamentary reform, but as the French Revolutionary Wars developed the British government became repressive against dissent and progress towards reform was stalled.

George II's successor, Whigs or Tories, but once elected they formed shifting coalitions of interests rather than dividing along clear party lines. At general elections the vote was restricted in most places to property owners, in constituencies which were out of date and did not reflect the growing importance of manufacturing towns or shifts of population, so that in the rotten and pocket boroughs seats in parliament could be bought from the rich landowners who controlled them, while major cities remained unrepresented. Reformers like William Beckford and Radicals beginning with John Wilkes called for reform of the system. In 1780 a draft programme of reform was drawn up by Charles James Fox and Thomas Brand Hollis and put forward by a sub-committee of the electors of Westminster. This included calls for the six points later adopted by the Chartists.

The House of Lords to defeat a bill to reform the British East India Company, dismissed the government of the day, and appointed William Pitt the Younger to form a new government. Pitt had previously called for Parliament to begin to reform itself, but he did not press for long for reforms the king did not like. Proposals Pitt made in April 1785 to redistribute seats from the "rotten boroughs" to London and the counties were defeated in the House of Commons by 248 votes to 174.

In the wake of the London Corresponding Society sprang up to press for parliamentary reform, but as the French Revolutionary Wars developed the government took extensive repressive measures against feared domestic unrest aping the democratic and egalitarian ideals of the French Revolution and progress toward reform was stalled for decades.

Parliament of the United Kingdom

In 1801 the Parliament of the United Kingdom was created when the Kingdom of Great Britain was merged with the Kingdom of Ireland to become the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland under the Acts of Union 1800.

See also


  1. ^ Uniting the kingdom?, accessed 18 January 2011
  2. ^ Making the Act of Union 1707, accessed 18 January 2011
  3. ^ Act of Union 1707, Article 1
  4. ^ Black, Jeremy (2004). Parliament and Foreign Policy in the Eighteenth Century. England:  

External links

  • Connected Histories
Parliament of Great Britain
Preceded by
Parliament of England
Parliament of Scotland
Parliament of Great Britain
Succeeded by
Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
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