World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

House of Commons

Article Id: WHEBN0000216091
Reproduction Date:

Title: House of Commons  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Articles for deletion/House of Commons, Sadiq Khan, Writ of election, Featured article candidates/Buckingham Palace/Archive 1, Estimates
Collection: Legislatures, Westminster System
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

House of Commons

The House of Commons is the name of the elected lower house of the bicameral parliaments of the United Kingdom and Canada and historically was the name of the lower houses of Ireland, Northern Ireland, and North Carolina. Roughly equivalent bodies in other countries which were once British colonies or federations thereof include the United States House of Representatives, the Australian House of Representatives, the New Zealand House of Representatives, and India's Lok Sabha.

In the UK and Canada, the Commons holds much more legislative power than the respective upper house of parliament. The leader of the majority party in the House of Commons usually becomes the prime minister. Since 2010 the House of Commons of the United Kingdom has had 650 elected members. The House of Commons of Canada has 308 members,[1] increasing to 338 members on October 2015. The Commons' functions are to consider through debate new laws and changes to existing ones, authorise taxes, and provide scrutiny of the policy and expenditure of the Government. It has the power to give a Government a vote of no confidence.


  • History and naming 1
  • Specific bodies 2
    • British Isles 2.1
    • Canada 2.2
    • United States 2.3
    • South Korea 2.4
  • See also 3
  • References 4

History and naming

The House of Commons of the Kingdom of England evolved from an undivided parliament to serve as the voice of the tax-paying subjects of the counties and of the boroughs. Knights of the shire, elected from each county, were usually landowners, while the borough members were often from the merchant classes. These members represented subjects of the Crown who were not Lords Temporal or Spiritual, who themselves sat in the House of Lords. The House of Commons gained its name because it represented communities (communes).[2] Members of the Commons were all elected, while members of the upper house were summoned to parliament by the monarch, usually on the basis of a title which would be inherited after the holder's death, or because they held a position in the realm that warranted special recognition, such as the bishops of the English and Welsh dioceses. After the Reformation, these bishops were those of the Church of England.

Since the 19th century, the British and Canadian Houses of Commons have become increasingly representative, as suffrage has been extended. Both bodies are now elected via universal adult suffrage. However, from the Middle Ages until the 18th century there was a tendency to limit the suffrage in various ways, creating by the 18th century a large number of rotten boroughs. In all countries, the House of Commons now as in the past may be prorogued for an election or some other purpose only by the Crown, represented outside the United Kingdom by the Governor General of each Commonwealth realm.

The Canadian House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa

Specific bodies

The Irish House of Commons
The first purpose-built House of Commons chamber in the world. Painted c.1780.

Although it is common to associate the title of "House of Commons" with the Westminster system in general, in practice, only two states actually use the title.

British Isles


United States

South Korea

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ A. F. Pollard, The Evolution of Parliament (Longmans, 1920), 107–08.
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.