Sunday, 31 July 2011

The Crown dependencies

There are three Crown dependencies: the Bailiwick of Jersey, the Bailiwick of Guernsey and the Isle of Man.  The first two are generally known as the Channel Islands.

Friday, 29 July 2011

Burke and Blackstone on MPs and representation

The traditional view of an MP's role has been that he (and it always was a "he") was not the proxy or delegate of his constituents, but was rather entitled and obliged to take an independent view on policy questions that might conflict with his constituents' preferences.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Parliamentary chambers

The design of the British House of Commons chamber has been copied around the world.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Bills rejected by the House of Lords

In my last post, I considered the Salisbury convention - the convention that the Lords does not reject bills that have been trailed in the government's election manifesto.  The Lords has never breached this convention, but it has occasionally voted down pieces of legislation.

The Salisbury convention

This post deals with the so-called Salisbury convention, which is the principal unwritten convention governing the legislative relationship between the two Houses of Parliament.

The rights to be consulted, to encourage and to warn

Walter Bagehot famously wrote in The English Constitution (1867) that the British monarch has three rights: the rights to be consulted, to encourage and to warn.

The written British constitution

The British constitution may be uncodified, but it is not unwritten.  As Lord Scarman put it:

The idea of the mixed or balanced constitution

One theme found in the classical writings on the British constitution is that it represents a balanced combination of monarchic, aristocratic and democratic rule.  The combination of the King, the Lords and the Commons was said to provide the best possible form of government.

Blackstone on Parliament

From Blackstone's Commentaries:

Friday, 15 July 2011

The primacy of the Commons over the Lords - Part 2

Following my last post on this subject, I want to look at the way in which the Lords conceived its role in the latter part of the 19th century, with particular reference to the theories of Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, the 3rd Marquess of Salisbury.

Anson on the organic development of the constitution

From Sir William Anson, The Law and Custom of the Constitution (1897):

The primacy of the Commons over the Lords - Part 1

The Commons is the dominant chamber of Parliament, though the House of Lords is conventionally referred to as the "upper house" (and Halsbury's Laws politely calls it the "senior" house).  How did the predominance of the Commons originate?

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Mistakes in granting Royal Assent

Occasionally, mistakes are made in granting Royal Assent to Bills.  It appears that the practice has been to rectify these mistakes by means of further legislation.  The following is from Frederick Clifford's A History of Private Bill Legislation (1885):

Constitutional statutes

The UK does not have a codified constitution, but certain statutes have been singled out over the years as possessing a special constitutional importance or status (the most famous being the iconic statute - or quasi-statute - known as Magna Carta).

Friday, 1 July 2011

The judicial functions of the Privy Council

See now also this speech by Lord Neuberger JSC

Following my recent general post on the Privy Council, here is some information on the council's judicial functions.

The principles of the British constitution

According to Halsbury's Laws:

Sir Henry Sumner Maine on universal suffrage and referendums

From Popular Government (1886):

Olde English constitutional laws

In this post, I want to disinter some mediaeval laws which are still on the statute book and which have some constitutional significance.

Sir Thomas Smythe on Parliament

An early assertion of parliamentary supremacy by Sir Thomas Smyth in De Republica Anglorum (1583):