7 transformative parliamentary Acts of the last 100 years

House Of Commons

The Great Repeal Bill looks set to be one of the most important bills in UK history. Here’s a list of some of the most important Acts in the last 100 years.

1. Representation of The People Act (1918)

This Act came into force after World War One, and enabled women to vote for the first time in British history. However, while this was a very transformative Act, it was limited in its delivery as it only allowed women over thirty who met “a property owning qualification”, according to the UK Parliament’s website, the ability to vote.

Significantly, the Act also gave all British men over the 21 years of age the right to vote.

2. Equal Franchise Act (1928)

This Act was very much the sequel to the previous Act, as it completed the process of giving women the right to vote, by granting the choice to vote to all women over the age of 21.

3. National Health Service Act (1946)

The Labour government elected after the war was possibly one of the most transformative UK governments of all time. One of their most transformative pieces of legislation was this Act, which led to the creation of the National Health Service in 1948, introducing the principal of free healthcare at the point of use.

The NHS recently celebrated its 69th birthday, its longevity showing how truly transformative the piece of legislation that started it truly was.

4. Murder (Abolition of Death Penalty Act) (1965)

This Act did exactly what it said on the tin – abolish the death penalty. However, the Act only suspended capital punishment, meaning it took until 1969 for the abolition to be voted on as permanent.

Furthermore, the Act excluded Northern Ireland, with the ban not coming in to force in the region in 1973.

5. European Communities Act 1972

This was the Act that took the UK into the European Communities, which later transformed into the EU. The Act certainly had massive economic, political and later social repercussions as it started the country on a path towards greater European integration.

6. Devolution Acts of 1998

The Scotland Act (1998) and Government of Wales Act (1998) were both transformative in the way they created legislative bodies in two of the UK’s nations. This was a big transfer of power, the consequences of which are still being seen today.

7. Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Act (2013)

This significant piece of legislation legalised marriage for same-sex couples in 2013, with the first of such weddings taking place in 2014. However, the law only applied to England and Wales, with Scotland later introducing similar legislation in 2014.

Northern Ireland does not have same-sex marriage, but the Republic of Ireland supported it in a referendum in 2015.

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