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  1. BBC Democracy Day celebrates democracy with a day of live events, discussions and debate.
  2. Today marks 750 years since the Simon de Montfort parliament (20 January 1265) and this year also marks 800 years since the sealing of Magna Carta (15 June 1215).
  3. Here, we're unfolding the march of democracy through history: from the first steps back in 1215 to today.
  4. You can take part by tweeting your questions to @bbcdemlive using #BBCDemocracyDay.

Live Reporting

By Patrick Cowling and Gary Connor

All times stated are UK

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That brings us up to date. Who knows what changes will occur in the future - but for now, we'll leave the story of democracy there.

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Remember, you can catch up on Twitter with #BBCDemocracyDay

Thank you for reading and you can now follow BBC Democracy Live's usual service -

coverage from the House of Commons and House of Lords - until late tonight.

Franchise extended again

The Scottish independence referendum extends the franchise to 16 to 17-year-olds for the first time in the UK.

NI Assembly

Northern Ireland Assembly
Press Association
The Northern Ireland Assembly sits in the Parliament buildings in Stormont

Devolved powers

Welsh Assembly
Press Association
The Welsh Assembly has been responsible for devolved powers since 1999

First woman PM

Margaret Thatcher becomes the first female prime minister of the UK.

Margaret Thatcher

Younger and younger

Representation of the People Act 1969 passed, which lowers the voting age from 21 to 18.

Analysis: the 1928 Equal Franchise Act

Dr Emma Peplow, History of Parliament Trust

"In 1928 the UK finally became a full parliamentary democracy.

"Women gained electoral equality with men and in fact they became the majority of the electorate.

"This was the culmination of a long campaign for suffrage rights for women and it is fitting that the suffragist leader Millicent Garrett Fawcett was alive to see it pass.

"However, despite nearly 90 years of electoral equality, women still make up under a quarter of sitting MPs."

Life baronies

Life Peerages Act passed, which authorised the creation of life baronies - the right to sit in the House of Lords - but without the title or right being passed to the holder's children on their death.

Equal voting rights

The Equal Franchise Act is

passed giving women equal voting rights with men. All women aged over 21 can now vote in elections. Fifteen million women are eligible.

Analysis: the 1918 Representation of the People Act

Dr Emma Peplow, History of Parliament Trust

"The 1918 Representation of the People Act made Britain into a democratic country, nearly 90 years after the 1832 Reform Act had begun to move it away from its old voting system, based on property and privilege.

"The previous reform acts had extended the electorate and made parliamentary constituencies more representative, but had always included property qualifications of some kind. For the first time the principle of 'one man, one vote' irrespective of financial situation, called for by the Chartists amongst others, was the basis of the male franchise.

"Of course, women were also first given the vote in parliamentary elections - but not on the same terms as men."

Irish Free State

Government of Ireland Act 1920 and the Irish Free State Agreement Act 1922 creates the Irish Free State and reduces the number of seats for Irish constituencies at Westminster from 105 to 13 constituencies in Northern Ireland.

Signing of the Irish Free state treaty 1921
Getty Images

Analysis: the 1911 Parliament Act

Dr Emma Peplow, History of Parliament Trust

"The 1911 Parliament Act established the superiority of the elected House of Commons over the House of Lords.

"Beforehand the Lords - then made up entirely of hereditary peers - had the power to veto bills passed in the Commons. They did so in 1909 when the Liberal government tried to pass the 'People's Budget', and in the constitutional crisis that followed David Lloyd George dubbed the Lords 'a body of 500 men chosen from the unemployed'.

"After 1911 the Lords only had the power to delay legislation, and could no longer veto the budget, ensuring that the Upper House could no longer derail the will of the elected government."


Nancy Astor 1919 - at the result of the poll
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Nancy Astor in 1919 - beaming at the result of the poll which saw her elected

Standing up

Votes for women 1913
Getty Images
The campaign for votes for women would send shock waves throughout the polite society of the Edwardian drawing room and provoke civil disobedience on a massive scale.


Parliament (Qualification of Women) Act is passed, allowing women to stand for Parliament.

Franchise extended

Representation of the People Act 1918 passed, extending the franchise to women for the first time - but only those over the age of 30 (roughly 8.5 million women or 40% of the female population at the time).

Votes for women
Press Association

The Act also abolished property and other restrictions for men, and extended the vote to all men over the age of 21. The electorate increased from eight to 21 million, but there was still huge inequality between women and men.

Franchise extended

Second Reform Act virtually doubles the size of the electorate by increasing the number of men who can vote.

All male householders and lodgers paying £10 each year in rent are given the right to vote.

New home

Sir Charles Barry wins the competition to design a new Palace of Westminster.

Great Reform Act


Great Reform Act is passed, removing 56 of the infamous "rotten boroughs", and reducing a further 36 to only one MP.

The Act also gave representation to new industrial towns such as Manchester, and broadened the franchise's property qualification in the counties, to include small landowners, tenant farmers, and shopkeepers, and created a uniform franchise in the boroughs, giving the vote to all householders who paid a yearly rental of £10 or more.

Acts of Union

Act of Union joins Ireland and Great Britain. Ireland is allocated 100 seats in the House of Commons.


The Acts of Union are passed which formally join Scotland and England together as one political entity, creating the kingdom of Great Britain. Scotland allocated 45 seats in the House of Commons.

Act of Union of the Scottish Parliament 1707
Press Association

Analysis: the Bill of Rights

Dr Paul Seaward, History of Parliament Trust

"The Bill of Rights was supposed to lay down a set of ground rules for a new monarchy.

"Though it was politically impossible for many people to acknowledge it at the time, in effect the English and Scottish peoples, through their Parliaments, had chosen their king, rather than accepted the one they were landed with by the process of succession and the principle of the divine right of kings.

"Britain (as it would shortly become) was now, pretty securely, a parliamentary monarchy.

"Though some - including, in time, the American colonists - believed that Parliament was capable of behaving in just as arbitrary a fashion as the pre-Revolution kings had done."

The 'Glorious Revolution'


Catholic King James II is deposed and William of Orange is invited to take the crown with James's Protestant daughter Mary.

The Bill of Rights is established, which gives Parliament power over the monarch and legally establishes the civil and political rights of an English citizen living within a constitutional monarchy.

Individual rights

Habeas Corpus Act is passed which places in law the rights of the individual to legally challenge their imprisonment by the authorities.

Lord Protector

Cromwell refusing the crown
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In 1653, Oliver Cromwell became Lord Protector - but he refused the crown

King beheaded

Charles I is tried for treason before a Parliamentary court. He is found guilty and executed.

The Putney debates


Putney debates take place at St Mary's Church in Putney.

These were a series of discussions between factions of the New Model Army and the Levellers concerning a new constitution for England. The radicals wanted a constitution based upon manhood suffrage ("one man, one vote"), biennial parliaments and a reorganisation of parliamentary constituencies.

Authority was to be vested in the House of Commons rather than the King and Lords. Certain "native rights" were declared sacrosanct for all Englishmen: freedom of conscience, freedom from impressment into the armed forces and equality before the law.

Colonel Thomas Rainsborough

makes his famous appeal for democratic rights,

"I think that the poorest he that is in England hath a life to live, as the greatest he; and therefore truly, Sir, I think it's clear, that every man that is to live under a government ought first by his own consent to put himself under that government."

King's power?

Charles I

attempts to arrest five MPs when he, accompanied by armed soldiers, enterers the House of Commons.

The speaker, William Lenthall refuses to tell the king where the five are, saying "May it please your Majesty, I have neither eyes to see nor tongue to speak in this place but as the House is pleased to direct me, whose servant I am here"

Wales included

Legislation provides for Welsh representatives in England's House of Commons.