Q6. Trace the path of growth of parliamentary institution in England
The first successful revolution that overthrew the autocratic monarchy took place in England in the seventeenth century. This had resulted in the establishment of the supremacy of Parliament in England. However, Parliament at that time was not a truly democratic institution.
The right to vote was limited to a very small percentage of the population. Throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the demand for making Parliament’ a democratic institution grew. Campaigns to extend the right to vote to every citizen were waged. These campaigns were led by radical leaders who represented the interests of workers, and the city poor, and by those representing the industrialists.
Until 1832, representation in Parliament was based not on population but on election districts— counties and boroughs. Many of these were no longer populated excepted for a few houses, while new towns and cities with large populations had no representation. Under the Act of 1832, the old unpopulated areas or ‘rotten boroughs’, as they were called, were abolished and their seats were given to new towns and cities. At this time also, the right to vote was extended to those who owned or rented a house of a certain value in the towns or in villages. This formed only about 10 per cent of the population.
The Chartist Movement which was launched to get the right to vote for workers. Though the movement declined in the 1850′s, it left its influence and through the Acts of 1867. 1882, 1918 and 1929, all adult citizens were enfranchised. Thus it was over 200 years after Parliament became supreme that it became also a truly representative body of the British people.