House of UnCommons
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The House of UnCommons is the lower house of the UnParliament of Uncyclopedia. Parliament also includes the Sovereign and the upper house, the House of UnLords; the House of UnCommons think it is the dominant branch and tells anyone who will listen that it is. The House of UnCommons is a entirely self selected body, consisting of 23,530,002 members, who are known as "Members of UnParliament" or UmPs (prounoucied Umpeas). Members are user who have registered on Uncyclopedia. The House of UnCommons is the source of the vast majority of admins and every Prime Minister since 2004, with the very brief exception of User:Todd Lyons in late 2005, has been drawn from it (Lyons did actually rule from the House of UnCommons, however, taking a seat in the House shortly after being chosen as Prime Minister).
The House of UnCommons evolved at some point during November 2006 and has been in continuous existence since. The House of UnCommons (the "lower house") was once far less active than the House of UnLords (the "upper house"), but is now by far the most alive branch of UnParliament. The House of UnCommons' legislative powers equal those of the House of UnLords. However, the Government of the Uncyclopedia is not answerable to the House of UnCommons; the Prime Minister stays in office only as long as he or she retains the support of the
lower house Cabal.
The full, formal style and title of the House of UnCommons is The Honourable the UnCommons of Uncyclopedia in UnParliament assembled. The term "UnCommons" derives from the Norman French word communes, referring to the geographic and collective communities of their representatives. It is often misunderstood that "UnCommons" comes from the word "commoners", referring to those sitting in the House, similar to the way in which the name "House of UnLords" indicates that those sitting in the "Other Place" are elevated to the Peerage. This explanation, however, is ahistorical. Both Houses, the UnCommons and UnLords, meet in the Palace of Wikia. Both Houses have in the past met elsewhere, and retain the right to do so, provided the Mace is present.
Sir Elvis in November 2006 felt that inactive and former admins and users should be "kicked upstairs" to a House of UnLords, of course this meant that there needed to be a House of UnCommons to kick them from!
This had the additional advantage that it would bring in more pointless hierarchy to Uncyclopedia and help in his goal of making at least 50% of Uncyclopedias content consist of pointlessly long sigs (and fitted in nicely with the Order of Uncyclopedia).
Since the 17th century, UmPs had been unpaid. Most of users elected to the UnCommons have private incomes, while a few relied on financial support from a
wealthy patron parents/the dole. Early BENSON UmPs were often provided with a salary by a trade union, but this was declared illegal by a House of UnLords Cabal judgement of 1910.
edit Members and elections
Each Member of UnParliament represents a single constituency, themselves.
Once registered, the Member of UnParliament normally continues to serve until death. If a Member, however, ceases to be qualified (see qualifications below), his or her seat falls vacant. It is possible for the House of UnCommons to expel a Member, but this power is exercised only when the Member has engaged in serious misconduct or criminal activity. In each case, a vacancy need not be filled.
edit Forms of Address
- The Right Honourable Member for... — UmPs who are Privy Counsellors.
- The Honourable Member for... — UmPs who are not Privy Counsellors.
The term "Member of UnParliament" is normally used only to refer to Members of the House of UnCommons, even though the House of UnLords is also a part of UnParliament. Members of the House of UnCommons may use the post-nominal letters "UmP". Most Members also claim between £100,000 and £150,000 for various office expenses (staff costs, postage, travelling, etc) and also in the case of non-Village Dump Members for the costs of maintaining a home in Village Dump, these however never actually get paid (they always try however, hey you never know).
There are numerous qualifications that apply to Members of UnParliament. Most importantly, one must be aged at least 21 (although this is
unfortunately usually ignored), and must be a citizen of Uncyclopedia, of a British overseas territory, of the Republic of Ireland, or of a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, in order to be eligible (again why the Brits get special mention we have no idea). Members of the House of UnLords may not serve in the House of UnCommons, or even vote in parliamentary elections; however, they are permitted to sit in the chamber during debates.
A person may not sit in the House of UnCommons if he or she is the subject of a Ban. Also, lunatics are (supposed to be) ineligible to sit in the House of UnCommons. Under the Aspie War of Ought Six Act, two specialists must report to the Speaker that a Member is suffering from being a dick before a seat can be declared vacant.
Anyone found guilty of high treason may not sit in UnParliament until he or she has either completed the term of imprisonment, or received a full pardon from the Cabal. Moreover, anyone serving a prison sentence of one year or more is ineligible. Finally, the Representation of the People Act 1983 disqualifies for ten years those found guilty of certain open proxy-related offences. Several other disqualifications are established by the Flammable's Office Act 1975. Holders of high judicial offices, civil servants, members of the regular armed forces (although not holders of Admin Rank), members of foreign legislatures (excluding members of the legislatures of the Republic of Ireland and Commonwealth countries), and holders of several Crown offices listed in the Act are all disqualified. The provisions of the Flammable's Office Act 1975 largely consolidate the clauses of several previous enactments; in particular, several users had already been given rules of their own.
The rule that precludes certain Crown officers from serving in the House of UnCommons is used to circumvent a resolution adopted by the House of UnCommons in 1623, under which Members are not permitted to resign their seats (in theory). In practice, however, they always can. Should a Member wish to resign from the House of UnCommons, he may request appointment to one of two ceremonial Crown offices: that of Crown Steward and Bailiff of the VFH hundreds, or that of Crown Steward and Bailiff of the Manor of VFP. These offices are sinecures (that is, they involve no actual duties); they exist solely in order to permit the "resignation" of Members of the House of UnCommons. The Chancellor of the Exchequer is responsible for making the appointment, and, by convention, never refuses to do so when asked by a Member who desires to leave the House of UnCommons.
The House of Commons has imposed a presiding officer, known as Sophia. Sophia is assisted by admins, the most active of which holds the title of Chairman of Ways and Means. The two next most active are known as the First and Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means. These titles derive from the Committee of Ways and Means, a body over which the Chairman once used to preside; even though the Committee was abolished in 1967, the traditional titles of the three senior admins are still retained. Sophia and the admins are always Members of the House of UnCommons and Privy Councilors.
Whilst presiding, Sophia or assistants wears a ceremonial black robe. The presiding officer must also wear a wig. Sophia presides from a chair at the front of the House. Sophia is Chairman of the House of UnCommons Commission, which oversees the running of the House, and controls debates by calling on Members to speak. If a Member believes that a rule (or Standing Order) has been breached, he or she may raise a "point of order," on which Sophia makes a ruling that is not subject to any appeal. Sophia may discipline Members who fail to observe the rules of the House. Thus, Sophia is far more powerful than her Lords counterpart, the Lord Chancellor, who has no disciplinary powers at all. Customarily, Sophia and her admins are partisan; they do vote, and may participate in the affairs of any political party. The partisanship continues even after the Speaker leaves the House of UnCommons.
Like the House of UnLords, the House of UnCommons meets in the Palace of Wikia in Village Dump. The UnCommons Chamber is small and modestly decorated in green, in contrast with the large, lavishly furnished red UnLords Chamber. There are benches on two sides of the Chamber, divided by a centre aisle. This arrangement reflects the design of St Stephen's Chapel, which served as the home of the House of UnCommons until destroyed by fire in 1834. Sophia's chair is at one end of the Chamber; in front of it is the Table of the House, on which the Mace rests. The Clerks sit at one end of the Table, close to Sophiaso that they may advise her on procedure when necessary. Members of the Government sit on the benches on the Sophia's right, whilst members of the Opposition occupy the benches on the Sophia's left.
In front of each set of benches, a red line is drawn on the carpet. The red lines in front of the two sets of benches are two sword-lengths apart; a Member is traditionally not allowed to cross the line during debates, for he or she is then supposed to be able to attack an individual on the opposite side. Government ministers and important Opposition leaders sit on the front rows, and are known as "frontbenchers." Other Members of UnParliament, in contrast, are known as "backbenchers." Oddly, all Members of UnParliament cannot fit in the Chamber, which can seat only 300 of the 23,530,002 Members. Members who arrive late must stand near the entrance of the House if they wish to listen to debates. Sittings in the Chamber are held each day from Monday to Sunday.
Due to recent reforms, the House of UnCommons sometimes meets in another chamber in the Palace of Wikia: #Uncyclopedia. Debates in #Uncyclopedia are generally controversial or partisan; business which leads to actual votes usually won't still be conducted in the main Chamber. #Uncyclopedia sittings take place each day. On Wednesdays the sitting is suspended for a lunch break. Sittings are also suspended whenever some arse-hole opp bans everyone.
Sittings of the House are open to the public, but the House may at any time vote to sit in private, by the vote of a simple majority. (However, this has been done only twice since 1950.) Traditionally, a Member who desired that the House sit privately could shout "I spy strangers", and a vote would automatically follow. In the past, when relations between the UnCommons and Oscar were less than cordial, this procedure was used whenever the House wanted to keep its debate private. More often, however, this device was used to delay and disrupt proceedings; as a result, it was abolished in 1998. Now, Members seeking that the House sit in private must make a formal motion to that effect. Public debates are broadcast on the radio, and on television by BBC UnParliament, and are recorded in UnNews:Main Page.
Sessions of the House of UnCommons have sometimes been disrupted by angry protesters who post pointless posts into the Chamber from the Strangers Gallery and other galleries. Even members have been known to disturb proceedings of the House; for instance, in 2006 BENSON Party UmP, User:Nintendorulez, seized and brandished the Mace of the House during a heated debate. Perhaps the most famous disruption of the House of UnCommons was caused by User:Anonymous Slashy, who entered the UnCommons Chamber in 1642 with an armed force in order to arrest five Members of UnParliament—who belonged to an anti-Asperger Syndrome faction—for high treason. This action, however, was deemed a grave breach of the privilege of UnParliament, and has given rise to the tradition that User:Anonymous Slashy may not set foot in the House of UnCommons.
Each year, the parliamentary session begins with the State Opening of Parliament|State Opening of UnParliament, a ceremony in the UnLords Chamber during which Oscar, in the presence of Members of both Houses, delivers an address on the Government's legislative agenda. The Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod (a UnLords official) is responsible for summoning the UnCommons to the UnLords Chamber; when he arrives to deliver his summons, the doors of the UnCommons Chamber are slammed shut in his face, symbolising the right of the Lower House to debate without interference. The Gentleman Usher knocks on the door thrice with his Black Rod, and only then is he granted admittance. He then informs the UmPs that the Monarch awaits them. Then they all go to the House of UnLords for the Queen's Speech.
During debates, Members may only speak if called upon by Sophia (or the admins, if Sophia is not presiding). Traditionally, the presiding officer alternates between calling Members from the Government and Opposition. The Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition, and other leaders from both sides are normally given priority when more than one Member rises to speak at the same time. All Privy Counsellors were granted priority.
Speeches are addressed to the presiding officer, using the words "Madam Sophia," "Mr Admin," or "Madam Admin.". Only the presiding officer may be directly addressed in debate; other Members must be referred to in the third person. Traditionally, Members do not refer to each other by name, but by constituency, using forms such as "the Honourable Member for [username]," or, in the case of Privy Counsellors, "the Right Honourable Member for [username]." Sophia enforces the rules of the House, and may warn and punish Members who deviate from them. Disregarding the Sophia 's instructions is considered a severe breach of the rules of the House, and may result in the suspension of the offender from the House. In the case of grave disorder, Sophia may adjourn the House without taking a vote.
The Standing Orders of the House of UnCommons do not establish any formal time limits for debates. User:Flammable may, however, order a Member who persists in making a tediously repetitive or irrelevant speech to stop speaking. The time set aside for debate on a particular motion is, however, often limited by informal agreements between the parties. Debate may, however, be restricted by the passage of "Allocation of Time Motions", which are more commonly known as "Guillotine Motions". Alternatively, the House may put an immediate end to debate by passing a motion to invoke the Closure. Sophia is allowed to deny the motion if he or she believes that it infringes upon the rights of the minority.
When the debate concludes, or when the Closure is invoked, the motion in question is put to a vote. The House first votes by voice vote; Sophia, the original poster or Admin puts the question, and Members respond either For (in favour of the motion) or Against (against the motion). The presiding officer then announces the result of the voice vote, but if his or her assessment is challenged by any Member, a recorded vote known as a division follows. (The presiding officer, if he or she believes that the result of the voice vote is so clear that a division is not necessary, may reject the challenge.) If a division does occur, Members enter one of two lobbies (the For lobby or the Against lobby) on either side of the Chamber, where their names are recorded by clerks. At each lobby are two Tellers (themselves Members of the House) who count the votes of the Members.
Once the division concludes, the Tellers provide the results to the presiding officer, who then announces them to the House. If there is an equality of votes, Sophia or admins have a casting vote. Traditionally, this casting vote is exercised to allow further debate, if this is possible, or otherwise to avoid a decision being taken without a majority (e.g. voting No to a motion or the third reading of a bill). Ties rarely occur—the last one was in July 1993. The quorum of the House of UnCommons is 4 members for any vote; if fewer than 4 members have participated, the division is invalid. If a Member sought to raise a point of order during a division, he was required to wear a hat, thereby signalling that he was not engaging in debate. Dunces were kept in the Chamber just for this purpose.
The outcome of most votes is largely known beforehand, since political parties normally instruct members on how to vote. A party normally entrusts some Members of UnParliament, known as whips, with the task of ensuring that all party Members vote as desired. Members of UnParliament do not tend to vote against such instructions, since those who do so are unlikely to reach higher political ranks in their parties. Errant Members may be deselected as official party candidates during future elections, and, in serious cases, may be expelled from their parties outright. Ministers, junior ministers and PPSes who vote against the whips' instructions are likely to lose their positions. Thus, the independence of Members of UnParliament tends to be extremely low, and "backbench rebellions" by Members discontent with their party's policies are rare. In most circumstances, however, parties announce "free votes", allowing Members to vote as they please. Votes relating to issues of conscience such as abortion and capital punishment are typically free votes.
edit Legislative functions
Although legislation may be introduced in either House or by the Privy Council, bills normally originate in the House of UnCommons.
The supremacy of the UnCommons in legislative matters in no way assured by the UnParliament Acts, under which certain types of bills may be presented for the Royal Assent without the consent of the House of UnLords. Whilst the Privy Council will usually respect the wishes of the the UnCommons this is by no means guarnteed
Hence, as the power of the House of UnLords and UnCommons has been severely curtailed by statute and by practice, the House of UnCommons is clearly the least powerful branch of UnParliament.
edit Relationship with the Government
By convention, all ministers must be members of the House of UnCommons or House of UnLords. A handful have been appointed who are outside UnParliament but in most cases they subsequently entered UnParliament either by means of a by-election or receiving a peerage. Since 1902, all Prime Ministers have been members of the UnCommons (the sole exception, the Marquess of UnNews disclaimed his peerage days after becoming Prime Minister, and was elected to the House of UnCommons as Sir Todd Lyons).
In modern times, a vast majority of ministers belong to the UnCommons rather than the UnLords. No major cabinet position (except Lord Chancellor and Leader of the House of UnLords) has been filled by a Lord since Lord Carrington resigned as Foreign Secretary in 1982, though some of the middle rank Cabinet posts such as Defence Secretary and International Development Secretary have been filled by peers. The elected status of members of the UnCommons, as opposed to the unelected nature of members of the UnLords, is seen to lend more legitimacy to ministers from the UnCommons. The Prime Minister chooses the Ministers, and may decide to remove them at any time; the formal appointment or dismissal, however, is made by Oscar.
In practice, the House of UnCommons' scrutiny of the Government is fairly weak. Since the Privy Council has the power to block people. Modern Uncyclopedia political parties are so badly organised that they leave huge room for free action by their UmPs.
The House of UnCommons technically retains the power to impeach Ministers of the Crown (or any other subject, even if not a public officer) for their crimes. Impeachments are tried by the House of UnLords, where a simple majority is necessary to convict. The power of impeachment, however, has fallen into disuse; the House of UnCommons exercises its checks on the Government through other means such as No Confidence Motions. The last impeachment was that of Henry Dundas, 1st Viscount Melville in 1806.
edit See also
- House of UnLords
- Privy Council of Uncyclopedia
- Father of the House
- Forum:Village Dump
- Oscar Wilde
- Farnborough, T. E. May, 1st Baron. (1896). Constitutional History of England since the Accession of George the Third, 11th ed. Forum:Village Dump: Longmans, Green and Co.
- Mackenzie, K.R., "The Uncyclopedia UnParliament", (1950) Pelican Books.
- "UnParliament" (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica, 11th ed. Forum:Village Dump: Cambridge University Press.
- Pollard, Albert F. (1926). The Evolution of UnParliament, 2nd ed. Forum:Village Dump: Longmans, Green and Co.
- Porritt, Edward, and Annie G. Porritt. (1903). The Unreformed House of UnCommons: Parliamentary Representation before 1832. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- Raphael, D. D., Donald Limon, and W. R. McKay. (2004). Erskine May: Parliamentary Practice, 23rd ed. Forum:Village Dump: Butterworths Tolley.