The origins of the United Kingdom Parliament can be traced directly to the English Parliament of the Middle Ages. Since the thirteenth century Parliament has consisted of a House of Lords of hereditary peers and ex-officio leaders of law and church, and a directly elected House of Commons. The tradition of election by plurality dates back to the Middle Ages. Since the Act of Union of 1707 Scotland has been represented in the House of Commons and MPs from Ireland were included in 1801 after the abolition of the Irish Parliament. Franchise laws varied enormously from constituency to constituency and nation to nation. (For statutes concerning elections since 1696, see Gwyn, 1962: 255f and Craig 1989: 189–195).
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