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Monday, 26 December 2016


The word "parliament" meaning a legislative, elected body of government, comes from the French word parler, which means a talk.

The Althing of Iceland is the oldest parliament in the world. The first althing met near Reykjavik in AD 930. Its convening is taken as the founding date of the Icelandic commonwealth, which survived for more than three centuries until 1262. After Iceland's union with Norway, the Althing still held its sessions apart from a gap of 45 years in the first half of the 19th century. The present parliament building, the Alþingishús, was built in Austurvöllur, Reykjavík in 1881, of hewn Icelandic stone.

Iceland's parliament House, at Austurvöllur in Reykjavík, Wikipedia Commons

The first Parliament in England was summoned by baronial leader Simon de Montfort, then in rebellion against Henry III. It was attended by elected knights of the shires and burgesses plus archbishops, bishops, abbots, earls, and barons between January 20, 1265 until mid-March the same year. The meetings were held in the Palace of Westminster, now also known colloquially as the "Houses of Parliament".

Thirty years later, Edward I adopted de Montfort's ideas for representation and election in the so-called "Model Parliament" in 1365.

When Oliver Cromwell became Lord Protector of England in 1653, he set up the "Barebones" Parliament, which was made up of Non-conformist churchmen and army officers. It was named "Barebones" after one of the members "Praise God Barebones", a Fleet Street Leatherseller.

The Parliament of England met until it merged with the Parliament of Scotland under the Acts of Union. This union created the new Parliament of Great Britain which first met in 1707.

The Parliament of the United Kingdom is split into three separate parts, the House of Commons (the lower house), the House of Lords (the upper house) and the Monarch. Most legislative power is concentrated in the House of Commons.

The British Houses of Parliament, London

England is often referred to as the 'mother of parliaments' (a phrase coined by John Bright in 1865).

Members are forbidden from eating and drinking in the British Parliamentary chambers with only one exception. The Chancellor of the Exchequer may have an alcoholic beverage while delivering the Budget statement.

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