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Septennial Act

Septennial Act, 1716. This Act prolonged the life of Parliament from a maximum of three years (as the 1694 Triennial Act required) to seven years. Its pretext was the Jacobite uprising in 1715. But by delaying the next election until 1722 the new Whig ministers succeeded in evading electoral judgement until they had consolidated themselves in power and weakened their Tory opponents. Following the ‘rage of party’ of Queen Anne's day, the longer periods between elections did much to quieten political life and entrench the Whigs in government for the next three decades. The Parliament Act of 1911 shortened the duration of parliaments to five years.

Andrew Hanham

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