In the recent debates over the report of the Standards and Privileges committee on the Owen Paterson case frequent reference has been made to the House of Commons’ foundational resolution of 2 May 1695 on lobbying. The resolution runs as follows: That the Offer of any Money, or other Advantage, to any Member of Parliament,… Continue reading Paid advocacy in the House of Commons and the Resolution of 2 May 1695
Lies, Personalities and Unparliamentary Expressions
It often puzzles people that accusing someone of lying in parliament seems to be taken more seriously than actually lying – at least that there is some consequence. The member who has made the accusation is called on to withdraw, or rephrase, the allegation; whereas it is rare that anything is done to reprove the… Continue reading Lies, Personalities and Unparliamentary Expressions
The opening of the second Impeachment trial of President Trump in the Senate today marks a new stage in the history of a procedure whose origins lie in medieval England.
Bellamy's, the refreshment rooms in the pre-1834 Palace of Westminster, occupied a distinctive place in the late Georgian and early Victorian political world, a place where different worlds collided.
Queen’s Consent and the Missing Link
Queen's consent - to be distinguished from Royal Assent - is one of the most obscure little pieces of parliamentary flummery. Its origin has been traced back to 1729: but it must be older than that.
The Smoking Room of the House of Commons
The smoking room of the House of Commons has long intrigued commentators on and spectators of politics: one of the places where knots of members get together to weigh reputations, exchange gossip, spread discontent, foment revolts, hatch conspiracies.
Parliamentary Privilege and Libel, Part III: Stockdale v. Hansard
The third of a series of blogs on parliamentary privilege and libel, this one deals with the notorious case of Stockdale v. Hansard
Parliamentary Privilege and Libel, Part II: from Wilkes to 1835
This is a series of three blogs about Parliament and Libel. The first, Privilege, Libel and the long road to Stockdale v. Hansard, Part I: from Strode’s Case to Article IX, dealt with the earliest encounters, in the seventeenth century, between parliamentarians and the court over the publication of material that the parliamentarians believed was… Continue reading Parliamentary Privilege and Libel, Part II: from Wilkes to 1835
Privilege, Libel and the long road to Stockdale v. Hansard, Part I: from Strode’s Case to Article IX
In 1836 the House of Commons published a series of reports of the new prison inspectors appointed under an Act of Parliament passed the year before. Their shocked claim that a pornographic book had been discovered in Newgate jail set of a train of unintended consequences that led to a series of law suits that are collectively referred to as Stockdale v. Hansard, a Gilbertian political farce and the biggest crisis in the relationship between the courts and parliament in British history.
Zoom and the Technology of Parliamentary Debate
The current controversy over the extension of the house of commons emergency procedures is very much sui generis. The technology to enable parliament to debate and vote without most members being physically present is only a few years old and was of course not available when previous public health crises of this order occurred: the… Continue reading Zoom and the Technology of Parliamentary Debate