Parliament is where politicians (MPs) meet to decide laws and make decisions for the United Kingdom. It is not the same as the Government (which runs the country). One of the jobs Parliament does is to check that the Government is running the country properly.
The main functions of Parliament are:
- to pass laws
- to provide, by voting for taxation, the means of carrying on the work of government
- to scrutinise government policy and administration, including proposals for expenditure
- to debate the major issues of the day
- The Queen
- The House of Lords
- The House of Commons
The Queen is the official Head of State. Britain has a constitutional monarchy where the Queen only rules symbolically; in reality, power belongs to Parliament. So, although the Queen 'opens' Parliament each year and laws are passed in her name, the Queen herself plays no part in determining decisions made in Parliament.
The Queen has the final say on whether a bill becomes law.
The last Monarch to reject a law that was wanted by both Houses of Parliament was Queen Anne. She died in 1715.
The House of Lords is made up of people who have inherited family titles and those who have been given titles because of their outstanding work in one field or another. There are 675 members of the Lords.
Who sits in the House of Lords?
A person who sits in the House of Lords is a peer
What is the job of the peers in the House of Lords?
The main job of the House of Lords is to 'double check' new laws to make sure they are fair and will work.
Who sits in the House of Commons?
A person who sits in the House of Commons is called a Member of Parliament (MP).
The House of Commons has 650 members (MPs) who have been elected by local residents to represent an area of the country in Parliament.
Each MP represents one of 650 constituencies (areas) in the UK and is a member of a political party, such as New Labour or the Conservative party.
What happens in the House of Commons?
The Commons is the most important place for discussing policies and making laws.
Find out more about the House of Commons by visiting House of Commons Chamber
No King or Queen has entered the House of Commons since 1642, when Charles l stormed in with his soldiers and tried to arrest five members of Parliament who were there.