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21st Century Parliament

The Putney Debates Exhibition


How the Putney Debates have progressed - Current Day Parliament


The business of Parliament takes place in two Houses: the House of Commons and the House of Lords. Their work is similar: making laws (legislation), checking the work of the government (scrutiny), and debating current issues. The House of Commons is also responsible for granting money to the government through approving Bills that raise taxes. 


The Commons is publicly elected. The party with the largest number of members in the Commons forms the government.  Members of the Commons (MPs) debate the big political issues of the day and proposals for new laws. 


It is one of the key places where government ministers, like the Prime Minister and the Chancellor, and the principal figures of the main political parties, work. The Commons alone is responsible for making decisions on financial Bills, such as proposed new taxes. The Lords can consider these Bills but cannot block or amend them.



The Lords are mostly appointed by the Queen, a fixed number are elected internally and a limited number of Church of England archbishops and bishops sit in the House of Lords. 

The Lords acts as a revising chamber for legislation and its work complements the business of the Commons. The House of Lords is also the highest court in the land: the supreme court of appeal. A group of salaried, full-time judges known as Law Lords carries out this judicial work



Both Houses hold debates in which Members discuss government policy, proposed new laws and current issues. Debates are designed to assist MPs and Lords to reach an informed decision on a subject. Votes are often held to conclude a debate, which may involve then passing or rejecting a proposed new law (legislation) or simply registering their opinion on a subject. All debates are recorded in a publication called 'Hansard'.




All debates are recorded in a publication called 'Hansard'.

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