The British parliament is one of the oldest representative assemblies in the world. Parliamentary government in the United Kingdom is based on a two-chamber system. The House of Lords (the upper House) and the House of Commons (the lower house) sit separately and are constituted on entirely different principles. The legislative process involves both Houses.
The main functions of Parliament are to:
- Examine proposals for new laws
- Provide, by voting for taxation, the means of carrying on the work of government
- Scrutinise government policy and administration, including proposals for expenditure
- Debate the major issues of the day.
Until 2011, Parliament had a maximum duration of five years and was dissolved by the Monarch on the advice of the Prime Minister. At any time up to the end of this period, a general election could be held for a new House of Commons. Following the Fixed Parliament Act 2011, each government will serve a fixed 5 year term with the next General Election to be held on the 7th May 2015.