Septennial Act 1716

The Septennial Act 1716 (1 Geo 1 St 2 c 38), also known as the Septennial Act 1715, was an Act of the Parliament of Great Britain. It was passed in May 1716.[3] It increased the maximum length of a parliament (and hence the maximum period between general elections) from three years to seven. This seven-year ceiling remained in law from 1716 until 1911. The previous limit of three years had been set by the Triennial Act 1694, enacted by the Parliament of England.

The act's ostensible aim was to reduce the expense caused by frequent elections. It did not require parliament to last for a full term, but merely set a maximum length on its life. Most parliaments in the remainder of the eighteenth century did indeed last for six or seven years, with only two lasting for a shorter time. In the nineteenth century, the average length of a term of the Parliament of the United Kingdom was four years. One of the demands of the mid-nineteenth century Chartists—the only one that had not been achieved by the twentieth century—was for annually-elected parliaments.

The Septennial Act was amended on 18 August 1911 by section 7 of the Parliament Act 1911 to reduce the maximum term of parliament to five years.

The Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 repealed the Septennial Act in its entirety.

The Septennial Act 1716[1]
Long titleAn Act for enlarging the Time of Continuance of Parliaments, appointed by an Act made in the Sixth Year of the Reign of King William and Queen Mary, intituled An Act for the frequent meeting and calling of Parliaments
Citation1 Geo 1 St 2 c 38
Introduced byDuke of Devonshire[2]
Territorial extentEngland and Wales and Scotland
Repealed15 September 2011
Other legislation
Amended byParliament Act 1911
Repealed byFixed-term Parliaments Act 2011
Status: Repealed
Text of the Septennial Act 1715 as in force today (including any amendments) within the United Kingdom, from


The text of the act is very short. As originally in force, it stated:

Be it enacted ... that this present Parliament, and all Parliaments that shall at any time hereafter be called, assembled, or held, shall and may respectively have continuance for seven years, and no longer, to be accounted from the day on which by the writ of summons this present Parliament hath been, or any future Parliament shall be, appointed to meet, unless this present or any such Parliament hereafter to be summoned shall be sooner dissolved by his Majesty, his heirs or successors.[4]

The act overturned the provisions of the Triennial Act 1694.

Aim and effects

The ostensible aim of the Septennial Act was, by reducing the frequency of elections, to reduce the cost during a given period of holding them. However, it may have had the effect of keeping the Whig party, which had won the 1715 general election, in power for a longer time. The Whigs won the following general election in 1722.

Prolongation of Parliament during the First World War and Second World War

During the First World War, a series of Acts was passed to prolong the life of the parliament elected in December 1910 until the end of the War in 1918. A series of annual Acts was also passed during the Second World War to prolong the parliament elected at the 1935 general election until the War in Europe had ended in mid-1945.

Short title Citation Date of assent Maximum duration of the existing parliament
as extended by the act
Parliament and Registration Act 1916 5 & 6 Geo. 5 c. 100 27 January 1916 5 years and 8 months
Parliament and Local Elections Act 1916 6 & 7 Geo. 5 c. 44 23 August 1916 6 years and 3 months
Parliament and Local Elections Act 1917 7 & 8 Geo. 5 c. 13 26 April 1917 6 years and 10 months
Parliament and Local Elections (No. 2) Act 1917 7 & 8 Geo. 5 c. 50 29 November 1917 7 years and 6 months
Parliament and Local Elections Act 1918 8 & 9 Geo. 5 c. 22 30 July 1918 8 years
Short title Citation Date of assent Maximum duration of the existing parliament
as extended by the act
Prolongation of Parliament Act 1940 3 & 4 Geo. 6 c. 53 6 November 1940 6 years
Prolongation of Parliament Act 1941 4 & 5 Geo. 6 c. 48 11 November 1941 7 years
Prolongation of Parliament Act 1942 5 & 6 Geo. 6 c. 37 22 October 1942 8 years
Prolongation of Parliament Act 1943 6 & 7 Geo. 6 c. 46 11 November 1943 9 years
Prolongation of Parliament Act 1944 7 & 8 Geo. 6 c. 45 17 November 1944 10 years

See also


  1. ^ The citation of this Act by this short title was authorised by the Short Titles Act 1896, section 1 and first schedule.
  2. ^ Noorthouck, John (1773). "Ch. 19: George I". A New History of London: Including Westminster and Southwark. Book 1. pp. 306–325. Retrieved 2008-06-12. the bill originated in the house of peers, where it was introduced by the duke of Devonshire
  3. ^ Lease, Owen C. "The Septennial Act of 1716." The Journal of Modern History 22, No. 1 (1950): 42. (retrieved 30 December 2013)
  4. ^ The Statutes, vol. 2 (1871), p. 257

External links

2015 United Kingdom general election

The 2015 United Kingdom general election was held on 7 May 2015 to elect 650 members to the House of Commons. It was the first general election at the end of a fixed-term Parliament. Local elections took place in most areas on the same day.

Polls and commentators had predicted the outcome would be too close to call and would result in a second hung parliament similar to the 2010 election. Opinion polls were eventually proven to have underestimated the Conservative vote as the party unexpectedly won an outright majority, which bore resemblance to its victory at the 1992 general election. Having governed in coalition with the Liberal Democrats since 2010, the Conservatives won 330 seats and 36.9% of the vote, this time winning a working majority of twelve seats.

The British Polling Council began an inquiry into the substantial variance between opinion polls and the actual result. Forming the first Conservative majority government since 1992, David Cameron became the first Prime Minister to continue in office immediately after a term of at least four years with a larger popular vote share since 1900, and the only Prime Minister other than Margaret Thatcher to continue in office immediately after a term of at least four years with a greater number of seats. The Labour Party, led by Ed Miliband, saw a small increase in its share of the vote to 30.4%, but incurred a net loss of seats to return 232 MPs. This was its lowest seat tally since the 1987 general election. Senior Labour Shadow Cabinet members, notably Ed Balls, Douglas Alexander, and Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy, were defeated.

The Scottish National Party, enjoying a surge in support since the 2014 Scottish independence referendum, recorded a number of huge swings of over 30% (including a record-breaking swing of 39.3% achieved in Glasgow North East) from Labour, as it won 56 of the 59 Scottish seats to become the third-largest party in the Commons. The Liberal Democrats, led by outgoing Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, had their worst result since their formation in 1988, holding just eight out of their previous 57 seats with Cabinet ministers Vince Cable, Ed Davey and Danny Alexander losing their seats. UKIP came third in terms of votes with 12.6%, but only won one seat, with party leader Nigel Farage failing to win the seat of South Thanet. The Green Party won its highest-ever share of the vote with 3.8%, and retained the Brighton Pavilion seat with an increased majority, though did not win any additional seats. Labour's Miliband (as national leader) and Murphy (as Scottish leader) both resigned, as did Clegg. Farage said that his resignation was rejected by his party, and he remained in post.In Northern Ireland, the Ulster Unionist Party returned to the Commons with two MPs after a five-year absence, while the Alliance Party lost its only seat despite an increase in total vote share.

The Conservative majority meant that Cameron was able to fulfil a manifesto commitment to renegotiate British membership of the European Union. That renegotiation was followed by a referendum in June 2016, which resulted in a majority of 51.9% voting to withdraw from the European Union, and led to the resignation of Cameron as Prime Minister.

Felix Calvert

Felix Calvert (c. 1664 – 28 December 1736) of Marcham, Berkshire was an English Tory MP.

Calvert was the first son of the brewer Thomas Calvert of St. Giles, Cripplegate, London and of Anne, daughter of William Ambose of Reading. He married Mary, daughter of Sir Francis Winnington, MP of Stanford Court, Worcester and Solicitor-General to Charles II. He succeeded his father in 1668, bought the manor of Marcham in Berkshirein 1691 and was pricked High Sheriff of Berkshire for 1707–08. He bought Albury Hall in Hertfordshire in 1700 and sold Marcham in 1717 to Robert Meggot, a wealthy Southwark brewer.He was MP for Reading from 1713 to 30 May 1716. Calvert was described as a Tory who might often vote Whig. He voted against the Septennial Act 1716. His election was declared void on 30 May 1716 and he was unsuccessful in the ensuing by-elections on 6 June 1716 and in March 1720.He died in 1736, leaving 7 sons and 5 daughters. Albury Hall passed to his son Felix.

Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011

The Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 (c. 14) is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that received Royal Assent on 15 September 2011, introducing fixed-term elections to the Westminster parliament for the first time, as a result of the Conservative–Liberal Democrat coalition agreement which was produced after the 2010 general election. The Act sets out the timetables for parliamentary general elections and dissolution of parliament. While there can be a fixed term with next general election being held the first Thursday in May of the fifth year after the previous general election, there are also situations where the election can still be called earlier.

The two most important situations where a general election can be earlier are a vote of no confidence in the government, and a vote of two-thirds of the House of Commons.

The lawyer and journalist David Allen Green and the university lecturer Andrew Blick have both argued that the Act changes little in practice, since the Prime Minister (PM) can still, so long as at least a portion of the opposition agrees, call a snap election. However, the constitutional academic Philip Norton has argued that the PM cannot call a snap election, since the opposition can prevent an election by abstaining in the vote.

George Evans, 1st Baron Carbery

George Evans, 1st Baron Carbery PC (Ire) (c. 1680 – 28 August 1749) was an Irish politician and peer. A member of a County Limerick family of Whigs, he entered the Irish House of Commons and was created a peer in 1715 as a reward for his father's support of the Hanoverian succession, after his father declined the offer. At the same time, he was returned to the British House of Commons for Westbury. He contested control of the borough with the Tories led by the Earl of Abingdon until 1727, when he stood down.

Evans was the son of George Evans (1655 – May 1720), of Bulgaden Hall, County Limerick and his wife (m. 1679) Mary (née Eyre). Lord Carbery married Anne, daughter of William Stafford, in 1703. She later inherited Laxton Hall from her brother. They had five children:

Stafford Evans (b. 1704), died young

George Evans, 2nd Baron Carbery (d. 1759)

Hon. William Evans (d. bef. 1756)

Hon. John Evans (d. 1758), of Bulgaden Hall, High Sheriff of County Limerick in 1734, married Grace Freke, sister and heiress of Sir Redmond Freke, 3rd Baronet, in June 1741 and had issue, including Sir John Evans-Freke, 1st Baronet

Hon. Anne Evans, married Maj. Charles du Terme in 1734After the death of Charles Oliver, one of the members for Limerick County in the Irish House of Commons, Evans was elected to succeed him in 1707. He sat as a Whig for the county until 1714. On 12 November 1714, he was appointed governor and constable of Limerick Castle. Evans's father had earlier been a strong supporter of William and Mary but declined King George I's offer of a peerage. However, the peerage was accepted by his son, who on 15 March 1714/5 was raised to the Peerage of Ireland as Baron Carbery, of Carbery in the County of Cork, with remainder to the male issue of his father.

With the sponsorship of Lord Cowper and other Whigs, Evans and Charles Allanson stood at Westbury at the 1715 election to challenge the Tory interest of Lord Abingdon. The election was held on 25 January 1714/5, and a double return was made: the Tory candidates, Lord Abingdon's nephew Willoughby Bertie and Francis Annesley were returned by the mayor of Abingdon, while the constable returned Evans and Allanson. As the former pair had polled 29 and 28 votes, respectively, to the 19 and 18 of Evans and Allanson, the House of Commons declared the Tories elected on 28 March 1714/1715.

Lord Carbery, as Evans now was, and Allanson lodged an election petition with the House, arguing that many of the Tory voters were not entitled to the franchise, and there were allegations of bribery on both sides. The committee ultimately declared that Bertie and Annesley had not been duly elected and that Carbery and Allanson had been; the Whig-dominated House concurred with the findings of the committee, and resolved that the more narrow interpretation of the Westbury franchise was the correct one. On 18 November 1715, Carbery was admitted to the Irish Privy Council.

Carbery voted in favor of Whig project such as the Septennial Act 1716 and the unsuccessful peerage bill in December 1719, but was not present for the vote on the Religious Worship Act 1718 in January 1718/9, which repealed the Occasional Conformity Act 1711 and Schism Act 1714. In the 1722 election, Carbery and Thomas Bennett stood against James Bertie (brother of Lord Abingdon) and Annesley; the Tory candidates were returned by the mayor. Carbery and Bennett again petitioned against the result, alleging undue practices and that they had received a majority of the votes. Although the results of the election were in their favor, they were unable to produce the original copy of the poll, and their petition was dismissed on 25 February 1723/4. Bertie had also been returned for Middlesex and chose to sit for that constituency; in the ensuing by-election at Westbury in 1724, Carbery defeated Edward Conway and returned to Parliament. He did not stand at the 1727 election.Carbery's appointment as governor and constable of Limerick Castle was renewed in 1740. He died on 28 August 1749 and was succeeded by his son George. Lady Carbery died in 1757.

Henry Pelham (of Stanmer)

Henry Pelham (c.1694 – 2 June 1725) was a British landowner and politician who sat in the House of Commons from 1715 to 1725.

Pelham was the eldest son of Henry Pelham and his wife Frances Byne, daughter of John Byne of Rowdell, Sussex.

Pelham was the first cousin of the Duke of Newcastle, who brought him in to stand for Hastings at the 1715 election shortly after Henry reached his majority. Newcastle's ownership of Hastings Castle and the lordship and Rape of Hastings gave him considerable local influence; the borough's corporation asked him to recommend one candidate, while the incumbent members, the independent Whig Archibald Hutcheson and the Tory Sir Joseph Martin also stood. Pelham was returned at the top of the poll, and Hutcheson, who enjoyed both a personal interest in town and the support of Lord Ashburnham and the Duke of Marlborough, finished nearly as strongly, while Martin was defeated with less than half of Hutcheson's votes.Pelham was a reliable Government supporter, although he absented himself from the Peerage Bill debates in 1719. He voted with the government in favor of the Septennial Act 1716, despite a petition from the corporation against it. He was brought in for Lewes in 1722 on the Newcastle interest, and died three years later of tuberculosis.Pelham succeeded his father in 1721, inheriting Stanmer Park near Lewes, Sussex. He commissioned French architect Nicholas Dubois to remodel the mansion house in 1722, although it would not be completed until after his death, when the estate had passed to his younger brother Thomas.

John Hodgson-Hinde

John Hodgson-Hinde (30 July 1806 – 26 November 1869), known as John Hodgson until 11 August 1836, was a British Conservative and Tory politician.

Octennial Act

The Octennial Act (7 George III c.3; long title An act for limiting the duration of parliaments) was a 1768 act of the Parliament of Ireland which set a maximum duration of eight years for the Irish House of Commons. Before this, a dissolution of parliament was not required except on the demise of the Crown, and the previous three general elections were held in 1715, 1727, and 1761, on the respective deaths of Anne, George I, and George II. After the act, general elections were held in 1769, 76, 83, 90, and 98.Limiting the duration of parliament was a prime objective of the Patriot Party. Heads of bills were brought, by Charles Lucas in 1761 and 1763 and by Henry Flood in 1765, to limit parliament to seven years as the Septennial Act 1716 did for the Parliament of Great Britain. The heads were rejected by the Privy Council of Great Britain, which, under Poynings' Law, had to pre-approve any bill before it was formally introduced in the Irish parliament.

Since the end of the Seven Years' War in 1763, the British government had wished to increase the size of Irish regiments, the part of the British Army charged on the Irish exchequer rather than the British. In 1767, the Chatham Ministry appointed George Townshend, 4th Viscount Townshend as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland and instructed him to secure the support of the Irish parliament for an Augmentation Bill to effect this increase. The British considered several possible concessions to win over the Patriot Party, and at his speech from the throne, Townshend promised judicial tenure quamdiu se bene gesserint (on the model of the Act of Settlement 1701) and hinted at a Septennial Act. Lucas again introduced heads of a Septennial Bill on 20 October 1767; Barry Maxwell introduced heads of a judicial tenure bill the same day. In November, the appointment of James Hewitt, 1st Baron Lifford as Lord Chancellor of Ireland alienated the Undertakers who had hoped for the post. In addition, the British Privy Council added a wrecking clause to the judicial tenure bill, which caused the Irish parliament to reject the bill once returned to Dublin. The council also made three amendments to Lucas' bill: to the preamble, to extend the limit from seven to eight years (thus an Octennial Bill) and to bring forward the date of the next general election from 1774 to 1768. According to Francis Plowden, the Privy Council insisted on the modification to eight years as a wrecking amendment, expecting that the Irish parliament would reject the bill on principle once any amendment had been made to it, and was disappointed when its amended bill was passed. W. E. H. Lecky calls this "without foundation", stating the actual reasons for eight years were that the Irish Parliament only met every second year, and to reduce the chance of Irish and British general elections coinciding.The Octennial Act reinvigorated the Commons, both with newly elected reformers and with MPs made more active by the prospect of imminent re-election. Changes included more assertiveness over supply bills and Poynings' Law, easing the penal laws, and securing the Constitution of 1782. There were unsuccessful attempts to shorten the maximum duration, in 1773 by Sir William Parsons and in 1777 by Sir Edward Newenham.The act was rendered moot when the Parliament of Ireland was abolished by the Act of Union 1800. It was formally repealed by the Statute Law Revision (Ireland) Act 1879.

Parliament Act 1911

The Parliament Act 1911 (1 & 2 Geo.5 c. 13) is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It is constitutionally important and partly governs the relationship between the House of Commons and the House of Lords, which make up the two Houses of Parliament. The Parliament Act 1949 provides that the Parliament Act 1911 and the Parliament Act 1949 are to be construed together "as one" in their effects and that the two Acts may be cited together as the Parliament Acts 1911 and 1949.Following the House of Lords' rejection of the 1909 "People's Budget", the House of Commons sought to establish its formal dominance over the House of Lords, which had broken convention in opposing the bill. The budget was eventually passed by the Lords, after the Commons' democratic mandate was confirmed by holding elections in January 1910. The following Parliament Act, which looked to prevent a recurrence of the budget problems, was also widely opposed in the House of Lords and cross-party discussion failed, particularly because of the proposed Act's applicability to passing an Irish home rule bill. Following a second general election in December, the Act was passed with the assent of the monarch, George V, who agreed to carry out H. H. Asquith's threat to create enough new Liberal peers to overcome the then Conservative majority in the Lords.

The Act effectively removed the right of the House of Lords to veto money bills completely, and replaced its right of veto over other public bills with the ability to delay them for a maximum of two years (the Parliament Act 1949 reduced this to one). It also reduced the maximum term of a parliament from seven years to five.

Parliament Acts 1911 and 1949

The Parliament Acts 1911 and 1949 are two Acts of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, which form part of the constitution of the United Kingdom. Section 2(2) of the Parliament Act 1949 provides that the two Acts are to be construed as one.

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 1716 to reduce the maximum life of a Parliament from seven years to five years. The Parliament Act 1911 was amended by 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.The Parliament Acts have been used to pass legislation against the wishes of the House of Lords on 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 rejected 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 Appellate Committee of the House of Lords dismissed the Alliance's appeal against this decision, with an unusually large panel of nine Law Lords (out of then-existing twelve) holding that the 1949 Act was a valid Act of Parliament.

Rage of Party

The Rage of Party is the name often given to the tumultuous period in English politics directly after the Glorious Revolution of 1688 until c. 1715. This period was characterized by political instability brought about by increased partisanship within Parliament and frequent elections. Eleven Parliaments met in this period, partly as a result of the Triennial Act, which meant a general election had to be held every three years. In fact, on average an election was held every two and a half years.The period ended with the Hanoverian succession and the passage of the Septennial Act 1716 allowing up to seven years between elections.

Robert Clarges

Robert Clarges (c. 1693 - before 1727) was an English Tory MP.

Clarges was the third son of Sir Walter Clarges, 1st Baronet, the first son of his marriage to Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Thomas Gould, Sheriff of London, widow of Sir Robert Wymondsell. He was educated at St Paul's School, London and Trinity College, Cambridge. His father died in 1706 whilst Clarges was still a minor and his inheritance of Stoke Poges Rectory Manor was held in trust for him until he became of age.

He was elected MP for Reading from 1713 to 30 May 1716. Clarges was described as a Tory who might often vote Whig. He voted against the Septennial Act 1716. His election was declared void on 30 May 1716.

He died unmarried apparently before April 1727 (he was not mentioned in his mother's will of that date). His estate was admininistered by his mother and elder brother. The Rectory Manor passed to his brother George.

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