Commons, House of

Commons, House of

Popularly elected lower house of the bicameral British Parliament. Passage of legislation is its primary function. Because it alone has the power to levy taxes and allocate expenditures, it is Britain's chief legislative authority. It originated in the late 13th century, when landholders and other property owners began sending representatives to Parliament to present grievances and petitions to the king and to accept commitments to the payment of taxes. It was the less powerful house until 1911, when the Reform Bill of that year gave it the power to override the House of Lords. The party with the greatest representation in the Commons forms the government, and the prime minister chooses the cabinet from the party's members. There are 646 members, elected from single-member districts. See also Canadian Parliament; parliamentary democracy.

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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