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. (February 2009)
The House of Commons is the name for the elected lower house of the bicameral parliaments of the United Kingdom and Canada. In the UK and Canada, the Commons holds much more legislative power than the nominally upper house of parliament. The leader of the majority party in the House of Commons by convention becomes the prime minister. Other parliaments have also had a lower house called a "House of Commons".
History and naming
The British House of Commons chamber in London
The House of Commons of the Kingdom of England evolved from an undivided parliament to serve as the voice of the tax-paying subjects of the counties and of the boroughs. Knights of the shire, elected from each county, were usually landowners, while the borough members were often from the merchant classes. These members represented subjects of the Crown who were not Lords Temporal or Spiritual, who themselves sat in the House of Lords. The House of Commons gained its name because it represented communities (communes).
Since the 19th century, the British and Canadian Houses of Commons have become increasingly representative, as suffrage has been extended. Both bodies are now elected via universal adult suffrage. However, from the Middle Ages until the early 20th century the suffrage was limited in various ways, typically to some male property-owners; in 1780 just 3% of the population could vote.