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Author Archives: The History of Parliament
I’m lucky enough to be one of the four new British Academy / Wolfson Foundation Research Professors chosen in 2017. The arrangement provides us with funding for three years’ worth of uninterrupted research, a huge luxury and enormous privilege. I’m … Continue reading
I is for impeachment, a parliamentary prosecution in which classically the lower House of the legislature acts to present the alleged malefactor for trial, and the upper House sits in judgement. Continue reading
A Henry VIII Clause is a nickname given to a provision in an Act of Parliament that delegates to a minister the power to modify the Act itself, or other Acts of Parliament. The delegation by Parliament of various powers to ministers – ‘delegated legislation’ or ‘secondary legislation’ – became common during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century; indeed the increasing complexity of government business meant that it was unavoidable. For many, however, it was associated with the growth in a powerful and unaccountable bureaucracy, and the Henry VIII clause, apparently conferring a sovereign legislative authority on the government itself, was both symbolic of that growth and a dangerous step towards eroding the ability of Parliament to rein it in. Continue reading
G is for gallery, where since at least the seventeenth century the presence of members of the public, looking on to the Houses’ debates has been connived at by Members, officially forbidden and in practice tolerated, before, much more recently, … Continue reading
‘The Frank’, the privilege of free postage for Members of Parliament, became during the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries notorious for its abuse, not just by Members, but by virtually everybody else as well. Royal officials would always have been … Continue reading
E is for Estimates: though nothing could be more central to the role of Parliament, the approval of government expenditure by voting the Estimates has never been a process to make the hearts of Members of Parliament beat faster. Edmund … Continue reading