‘Parliament’ is the name given to the three bodies who together make all the laws for the United Kingdom: the purely ceremonial role of the Queen, and the two 'Houses' of Parliament:
- The House of Commons is the most important ‘chamber’, composed of 650 MPs (Members of Parliament) from all over the country. Our MPs are elected by popular vote of everyone over 18 in a General Election which happens every five years. Martin Horwood was Cheltenham’s MP and our voice in Parliament from 2005 to 2015 Whoever has a majority of the seats in the Commons (325) normally forms the government of the country. At the last General Election in 2015, the Conservatives narrowly won a majority with 330 seats despite winning barely more than a third of the actual votes. At the previous election in 2010, no one party had gained a majority so the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats agreed to co-operate and form a 'coalition' government.
- The House of Lords includes many party political representatives and some eminent experts, all appointed in theory by the Queen but in practice by the Prime Minister and other party leaders. It also still includes some hereditary peers and Church of England bishops. Plans for reforming the House of Lords have been under discussion for about 100 years.
- The Queen still has to give her Royal Assent to all Acts of Parliament (laws), although this is now a purely ceremonial role.
On this part of the website you can find out more about what’s on in Parliament, how Parliament works, how our laws are made and when Parliament works. There’s even a section on the sensitive subject of MPs’ expenses.