« ElőzőTovább »
§ 28. Adjournment, Prorogation, and Dissolution.— While Parliament is sitting it is necessary for it to be adjourned from day to day and sometimes for longer periods. Each House has the sole control over its own adjournment, which is effected by a motion agreed to by the House. If both Houses are adjourned for more than fourteen days the Sovereign can issue a Proclamation calling on them to re-assemble after six days.
A Parliament does not sit continuously throughout the whole of its existence, but for certain periods known as sessions. As a general rule there is only one session in each year, commencing about the end of January or beginning of February and ending in August. Оссаsionally another session is held in the autumn. There is no strict rule laying down exactly when a session shall begin or finish. This is determined by the Sovereign acting on the advice of the Prime Minister. When the Prime Minister thinks that the Parliament has sat long enough and that the session should end he advises the Sovereign accordingly, and the latter in person or by special representatives prorogues it until a certain date. It will assemble again on this date, unless it is further prorogued in the meantime.
It has already been seen that the maximum duration of a Parliament is now fixed at five years, but the Sovereign may, on the advice of his Ministers, dissolve it at any time before the expiration of that period. When a dissolution is contemplated, the present practice is for the King first to prorogue Parliament, and then to issue a Proclamation dissolving it. The same Proclamation provides for the summons of the next Parliament on a day named; and, as we have seen, it is accompanied by an Order in Council commanding the issue of the writs necessary for that purpose.
THE FORM OF THE HOUSE OF LORDS.
§ 29. General History.-The origin of the House of Lords can be traced to the Commune Concilium. Magna Charta, as we have seen, sanctioned the organisation of this body on a feudal basis for purposes of taxation. It acquired additional power during the long minority of Henry III., when the whole supervision of the administration came into its hands. The magnates of the realm had thus a corporate existence in a recognised assembly with definite duties before the date when Edward I. bade them share the most important of their powers with the representatives of the Commons. The essential distinction to make between the Commune Concilium and the House of Lords is the growth and ultimate triumph of the hereditary principle.
The various ranks of the peerage were gradually created. The first duke was the Black Prince, who was created Duke of Cornwall in 1337. The title of Marquis dates from 1385 and that of Viscount from 1440. Sixteen representative peers of Scotland were added in 1707, and twenty-eight of Ireland in 1801. The Appellate Jurisdiction Act of 1876 further increased the House by the addition of four Lords of Appeal in Ordinary.
The numbers of the House have varied from time to time, but originally the spiritual peers were in a majority. The Wars of the Roses thinned the ranks of the lay peers. Fifty-three were summoned in 1454, but only 29 in 1485. At the death of Elizabeth their number was 59, and this had increased to 168 by the death of Anne. No fewer
than 388 peerages were created during the reign of George III., but some of these and of the older ones became extinct, and the number of lay peers at his death was 342. The reign of Queen Victoria saw the creation of 373 lay peers, and at her death the membership of the House of Lords had reached a total of 591.
§ 30. At the present day (August 1916) the House of Lords is composed of 3 Peers of the Blood Royal; 2 Archbishops and 24 Bishops; 583 Peers of the United Kingdom, consisting of 21 Dukes, 25 Marquesses, 126 Earls, 47 Viscounts, and 364 Barons; 16 Scotch representative
28 Irish representative peers, and 6 Lords of Appeal in Ordinary,-making a total of 662.
§ 31. The Spiritual Peers were formerly the most influential and powerful in the assembly and outnumbered their lay colleagues. The dissolution of the monasteries in the reign of Henry VIII. greatly diminished their number, which was finally fixed at twenty-six. In 1801 one archbishop and three bishops of the Irish Church were added, but on the disestablishment of that Church in 1869 they lost their right to be summoned. Although fresh bishoprics have been created the number of seats to which the spiritual peers are entitled has not increased.
The twenty-six seats are thus allotted. The archbishops of Canterbury and York and the bishops of London, Durham, and Winchester are always entitled to a summons. The remaining twenty-one seats are filled by the twenty-one bishops who have longest held an English see. The Bishop of Sodor and Man has no right to speak or vote, but there is some ground for the opinion that he has a right to a seat. On resignation of his see a bishop loses his right to a seat in the House of Lords. In 1642 an Act was passed taking away the right of the bishops to sit in the House of Lords, but this was repealed in 1660.
§ 32. The Peerage of the United Kingdom.-The meaning of the term "baron" has gradually changed. Originally a baron was a tenant of land who held direct from the King, and as such he was usually summoned to the Magnum Concilium. Before the time of Magna Charta the use of the term had been restricted to those who held at least a certain number of knights' fees. This holding of itself did not entitle a person to be summoned, although perhaps at first no one was summoned who did not possess such a holding. It was the King who determined who should or should not be summoned, and by the time of Edward I. it had become customary to summon persons who held nothing of the Crown. The writ by which this summons was made ultimately became the sole condition for attendance.
At first it did not follow that because a man had been summoned his heir would be summoned after him, but as the baronies descended from one person to another under the feudal system the analogy was applied to a writ of summons, and the perpetual or hereditary summons became the rule. The exact date when a single summons implied a perpetual one is not definitely known, but it is certainly not later than the end of the fourteenth century-indeed Dr. Stubbs would fix it at 1295. Thus from having been a mere landholder a baron at length came to mean a person who had received a writ of summons from the King, and had thereupon taken his seat in the Upper House. There was no longer any necessity for his having any further qualification, and when he had once been summoned and had taken his seat his heirs were entitled to a writ after his death. It was sometimes difficult to know, however, who the heir of a baron really was, as there were no title deeds or documents stating how the dignity was to descend. It was different with the other ranks of the peerage. An earl was given a charter, which declared that he had been
made an earl and stated who was to succeed him. Letters patent were subsequently used instead of a charter.
The certainty which this method of creation gave was so great that it was applied to the creation of baronies. The first instance occurs in 1387, and after the reign of Henry VI. it became the usual method. But in the case of any barony which was not so created proof must be given that a writ of summons was issued, that the summons was obeyed, and that the person summoned took his seat. On this being done an hereditary peerage is constituted. A person cannot now claim a writ of summons on account merely of his holding certain lands: A peer cannot sell his barony to another, nor can he surrender it to the Crown.
At the present day a new peer of the United Kingdom is always created by letters patent. A writ of summons is sent to the new peer, and on his first attendance at the House of Lords this, with the patent, is entered upon the Journals of the House. The House of Lords itself determines any doubtful claims as to peerages.
§ 33. Scotch Peers. The Act of Union with Scotland provided that sixteen Scotch peers should sit in the House of Lords as representatives of the Scotch peerage. These sixteen are elected by the Scotch peers at Holyrood before the commencement of each Parliament. Their right to sit and vote only continues for the duration of the Parliament. They do not receive a special summons, but a list of those elected is sent to the Clerk of the House. Only those Scotch peers who are not peers of the United Kingdom can be elected. The Crown is debarred from creating any more Scotch peers, and as a number of Scotch peerages have become extinct or their holders have been created peers of the United Kingdom, the number of Scotch peers who have no seat in the House of Lords tends gradually to