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The Septennial Act 1715 was an Act of the Parliament of the Kingdom of Great Britainmarker in May 1716 (1715 c.38, 1 Geo I St 2), to increase the maximum length of a Parliament (and hence between general elections) from 3 years to 7 years.

The previous limit of 3 years had been set by the Triennial Act 1694 in the Kingdom of England. The ostensible aim of the Act was to reduce election expenses, but it also had the effect of keeping the Whig party, who had won the 1715 general election, in power for longer - and they won the eventual 1722 general election.

It did not require Parliaments to last that long, but merely set a maximum length on their life. Most Parliaments in the remainder of the 18th century did indeed last 6 or 7 years, with only two lasting for less time. In the 19th century the average length of a parliament of United Kingdom of Great Britain and Irelandmarker was four years.

The Act was amended in 1911 by the Parliament Act 1911 to change the limit to five years, and then again during the World Wars to extend the Parliaments elected in the 1910 and 1935 general elections until the European wars had ended in 1918 and 1945. One of the demands of the mid-19th-century Chartists (the only one which was not achieved by the 20th century) was for annually-elected parliaments.

See also


  • 'Book 1, Ch. 19: George I', A New History of London: Including Westminster and Southwark (1773), pp. 306-25. URL: Date accessed: 20 November 2006.

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