Parliament Acts

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The Parliament Acts 1911 and 1949[1] are two Acts of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, which form part of the constitution of the United Kingdom. It is provided that they are to be construed as though they were a single Act.[2]

The first Parliament Act, the Parliament Act 1911 (1 & 2 Geo. 5. c. 13), asserted the supremacy of the House of Commons by limiting the legislation-blocking powers of the House of Lords (the suspensory veto). Provided the provisions of the Act are met, legislation can be passed without the approval of the House of Lords. Additionally, the 1911 Act amended the Septennial Act to reduce the maximum life of a Parliament from seven years to five years. The first Parliament Act was amended by the second Parliament Act, the Parliament Act 1949 (12, 13 & 14 Geo. 6. c. 103), which further limited the power of the Lords by reducing the time that they could delay bills, from two years to one.[3]

The Parliament Acts have been used to pass legislation against the wishes of the House of Lords on only seven occasions since 1911, including the passing of the Parliament Act 1949. Some constitutional lawyers had questioned the validity of the 1949 Act; these doubts were settled in 2005 when members of the Countryside Alliance unsuccessfully challenged the validity of the Hunting Act 2004, which had been passed under the auspices of the Act. In October 2005, the House of Lords dismissed the Alliance's appeal against this decision, with an unusually large panel of nine Law Lords holding that the 1949 Act was a valid Act of Parliament.


Parliament Act 1911

The purpose of the Parliament Act 1911 is explained by its long title:


The 1911 Act prevented the Lords from vetoing any public legislation that originated in and had been approved by the Commons, and imposed a maximum legislative delay of one month for "money bills" (those dealing with taxation) and two years for other types of bill.[3] The Speaker was given the power to certify which bills are classified as money bills. If a money bill is not passed by the Lords without amendment within one month after it is received, the bill can be presented for Royal Assent without being passed by the Lords. For other public bills, the 1911 Act originally provided that a rejected bill would become law without the Lords' consent if it were passed by the Commons in three successive sessions, provided that two years elapsed between Second Reading of the bill and its final passing in the Commons.

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