What is the House of Commons?
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What is the House of Commons?


Too busy bickering on TV to run the country? There’s got to be more to the House of Commons
than that – right? Before The House of Commons, or the House
of Lords, there was just the King and his Barons. The King could call on them whenever he wanted. But he didn’t count on them becoming powerful
and in 1215 they made King John seal Magna Carta which forced him to obey the law and
set up an advisory council of 25 men. Fifty years later Simon de Montfort rebelled
against Henry The Third, and for the first time invited representatives of the towns
together with knights of the shires to his 1265 parliament. These citizens met separately from the nobility
and evolved to form the House of Commons in 1332. So now there are two houses, the House of
Commons and the House of Lords. As the rights of the people increased the
king and nobility became less powerful and the balance of power eventually swung to the
Commons. In 1512 a huge fire consumed Westminster Palace. Henry The Eighth moved out, and once rebuilt,
it became Parliament’s home. Parliament still works from Westminster today
and has three parts. The House of Commons,The House of Lords and the Monarchy. Members of the House of Commons are elected
by you and me. Every five years we elect representatives
to run the country on our behalf, which means we run the country kinda. It’s easy to run as a candidate you just have
to be 18, not in prison, and not a Lord. Oh and also, you can’t be the Monarch. Ever since Charles the First burst in on the
chamber uninvited no King or Queen has been allowed in. So what does the House actually do all day? It debates important issues; makes and reviews
our laws; represents the public and, holds the Government to account. Inside the House of Commons there are two
sides – on one side, the Government who run the country and on the other side the Opposition
– who keep an eye on what the Government are doing. The chamber only has 437 seats, for over 600
members, So MPs have to pack in for big debates. The Commons Speaker sits at the head of the
room to maintain order. The Prime Minister leads the Government, and
appoints ministers to form a cabinet. You’ll see them on the front bench. It’s the Government that introduces most of
the ideas for new laws and the changes to old ones. The Opposition questions and challenges the
Government. All MPs split their time between the House
of Commons and their constituency. Often MPs have to figure out what’s best for
their party or what’s best for the local people they represent – even the ones who didn’t
vote for them. There are lots of ways that the Government
is held to account. Every week, for half an hour, the Prime Minister
comes to the House of Commons to answer questions from MPs. It’s dramatic, it’s heated and it’s this that
gets the most viewers tuning in. But it’s not just the PM in the hot seat – MPs
get to question Ministers from all government departments. And then, there are Select Committees where
MPs spend a lot of time reviewing the policies and spending of government – this is called
scrutiny. They speak to experts and the public to understand
how laws affect our everyday lives. This work helps the Government shape their
policies. Also whenever the Government wants to raise
taxes the House of Commons has to agree they review any proposed bill before they vote. So it’s not just a lot of rowdy bickering! They do more than what’s shown on TV – debating
important issues, making laws, holding the Government to account and allowing MPs to
represent the public, that’s you. So, what do you think of the House of Commons
now?

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