Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Is Viscount Monckton a member of the House of Lords?

It is quite well known by now that Christopher Monckton, the 3rd Viscount Monckton of Brenchley, claims to be a member of the House of Lords, albeit without the right to sit or vote.  This claim has received widespread attention because Lord Monckton - who is best described a Wodehousian British eccentric - is a leading advocate of climate change denial.

Lord Brougham on the British constitution

Henry, Lord Brougham was a liberal lawyer and politician who served as Lord Chancellor from 1830 to 1834.  What follows are some passages from Brougham's British Constitution (1844).  Brougham's view of the constitution of his own day is somewhat self-congratulatory (especially when he is talking about the virtue of the judiciary, of which he happened to be a leading member), and one might question how far it reflected the practical realities of life for most Britons in early Victorian times.  His prose is also rather purpleish.  But what he has to say can stand as a fine example of the liberal constitutional ideal that men like Brougham fought to promote.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

What is the Cabinet?

The Cabinet Manual has now been published.  In retrospect, this may prove to be a major milestone on the road to the enactment of a written constitution for the UK (despite the protests of Sir Gus O'Donnell and others).

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Towards a written constitution

"Suppose one joined a tennis club and, having paid one’s subscription, asked to see the rules of the club. How would we feel if we were told, ‘Actually, the rules have not been collected and brought together all in one place. They are scattered around amongst the decisions of past presidents of the club, and decisions made by the various committees of the club. You can search through the minutes to try to find them, but it will be a long job. In addition, there are some rules which are not written down at all – unspoken conventions. These you will pick up as you go along. But, please do remember that, if you have to ask what the rules are, you do not belong’. We would hardly be mollified. Indeed, we might ask for our subscription back."

E.A.Freeman on the development of the constitution

From The Growth of the English Constitution from the Earliest Times by Edward Augustus Freeman (1898):