Tuesday, 5 November 2013


Today I visited Westminster on a Politics school trip. We had a fantastic day, beginning with a tour of Parliament in the morning before watching the House of Commons Questions to George Osbourne, Chancellor of the Exchequer. Of course we went out for lunch (Wagamamas), before visiting the Supreme Court and then watching the select committee on Home Affairs deal with the 'Plebgate' issue and tobacco smuggling.

Combining my passion for history and interest in politics I have decided to do a timeline of the history of Parliament (summarised, of course, or we would be here all day), up until James I in 1603.

1215 - King John agreed to Magna Carta which stated the right of the barons to consult with and advise the king in his Great Council

1236 - Earliest use of the term Parliament, referring to the Great Council

1254 - Sheriffs were instructed to send elected representatives of the counties (knights of the shire) to consult with the king on taxation

1258 - At a Parliament at Oxford, the nobles drafted the "Provisions of Oxford" which calls for regular Parliaments with representatives from the counties

1265 - Simon de Montfort, in rebellion against Henry III, summoned a Parliament which included for the first time representatives of both the counties and towns

1278 - The Clerk of the Parliaments began to compile the Rolls of Parliament, the records of proceedings, particularly the petitions and acts passed

1295 - Model Parliament was made up of nobles and bishops, and two representatives for each county and for each town - the model for future Parliaments

1327 - From this date representatives of the counties (knights of the shire) and of the towns (burgesses) were always summoned together to Parliament

1332 - Knights of the shire and burgesses met together and were called the Commons

1341 - The Commons met separately from the Upper House for the first time

1352 - The Commons began to meet in the Chapter House of Westminster Abbey

1362 - A statute established that Parliament must approve of all taxation

1376 - In the Good Parliament the Commons, led for the first time by an elected Speaker, prosecuted, or impeached, before the lords some of the king's advisors

1397 - Commons moved from Chapter House of Westminster Abbey to its Refectory

1399 - Parliament deposed Richard II and Henry IV's reign started

1401 - During the reign of Henry IV the Commons claimed the right to grant taxation (supply) only after their complaints had been addressed (redress of grievances)

1407 - The Commons successfully asserted its right that it should originate all new taxes in its own House

1413 - Statute insisted that burgesses should reside in the borough for which they are elected. Over the following years, this provision was almost completely ignored

1414 - 
Henry V acknowledged that the approval and consultation of both Houses was necessary to make new laws

1429 - Statute limited the right to vote in county elections to those owning freehold property worth 40 shillings a year

1497 - The Clerk of the Parliaments was no longer a Chancery official and began to keep the acts passed in Parliament (the Original Acts) in Parliament's own archives

1510 - The Clerk of the Parliaments started keeping records of proceedings in the House of Lords - the Lords Journal

1512 - Henry VIII moved the royal family out of the Palace of Westminster after a fire, and left it to the use of Parliament and some government offices

1523 - Speaker of the Commons Sir Thomas More made the first known request for freedom of speech in Parliament

1529-36 - The Reformation Parliament passed legislation touching on every aspect of people's lives and made King-in-Parliament the sovereign lawmaker in the realm

1536 - A statute joined Wales to English administration and allowed its counties and boroughs to return members to Parliament

1539 - Henry VIII suppressed the monasteries and the abbots and priors could no longer sit in the House of Lords, making the Lords Temporal the majority there

1547 - Edward VI handed St Stephen's Chapel over to the Commons for their use

1547 - The Clerk of the Commons started keeping records of proceedings - the Commons Journal

1576 - Peter Wentworth made a speech in the Commons arguing for freedom of speech in Parliament, for which he was punished and committed to the Tower of London