THE PARLIAMENT ACT 1911 is an Act of the Parliament of the United
Kingdom . It is constitutionally important and partly governs the
relationship between the House of Commons and the
House of Lords which
make up the two
Houses of Parliament
Following the House of Lords' rejection of the 1909 "People\'s Budget
", the House of Commons sought to establish its formal dominance over
the House of Lords, which had broken convention in opposing the bill.
The budget was eventually passed by the Lords, after the Commons'
democratic mandate was confirmed by holding elections in January 1910
. The following Parliament Act, which looked to prevent a recurrence
of the budget problems, was also widely opposed in the House of Lords
and cross-party discussion failed, particularly because of the
proposed Act's applicability to passing an
Irish home rule bill.
Following a second general election in December , the Act was passed
with the support of the monarch,
The Act effectively removed the right of the House of Lords to veto money bills completely, and replaced it with a right of veto over other public bills with a maximum delay of two years. It also reduced the maximum term of a parliament from seven years to five.
* 1 Background * 2 Passage * 3 Provisions * 4 Result * 5 Analysis
* 6 References
* 6.1 Case law * 6.2 Citations
* 7 Further reading
Until the Parliament Act 1911, there was no way to resolve contradictions between the two houses of parliament except through the creation of additional peers by the monarch. Queen Anne had created 12 Tory peers to vote through the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713. The Reform Act 1832 was passed when the House of Lords dropped opposition—William IV had threatened to create 80 new peers by request of the prime minister, Earl Grey —creating an informal convention that the Lords would give way when the public was behind the House of Commons. For example, Irish disestablishment , which had been a major bone of contention between the two main parties since the 1830s, was—following intervention by the queen—passed by the Lords in 1869 after W.E. Gladstone won the 1868 election on the issue. However, in practice, this gave the Lords a right to demand that such public support be present and to decide the timing of a general election.
It was the prevailing wisdom that the House of Lords could not amend money bills , since only the House of Commons had the right to decide upon the resources the monarch could call upon. This did not, however, despite the apparent contradiction, prevent it from rejecting such bills outright. In 1860, with the repeal of the paper duties , all money bills were consolidated into a single budget. This denied the Lords the ability to reject individual components and the prospect of voting down the entire budget was seemingly unpalatable. It was only in 1909 that this possibility became a reality. Prior to the Act, the Lords had had rights equal to those of the Commons over legislation but, by convention, did not utilise its right of veto over financial measures.
There had been an overwhelming Conservative-Unionist majority in the
Lords since the Liberal split in 1886. With the Liberal Party
attempting to push through significant welfare reforms with
considerable popular support, problems seemed certain to arise in the
relationship between the houses. Between 1906 and 1909, several
important measures were considerably watered down or rejected
outright; for example,
Augustine Birrell introduced the Education
Bill 1906, which was intended to address nonconformist grievances
arising from the
Education Act 1902 , but it was amended by the Lords
to such an extent that it effectively became a different bill,
whereupon the Commons dropped it. This led to a resolution on 26 June
1907 in the House of Commons, put forward by Liberal Prime Minister
Henry Campbell-Bannerman , declaring that the Lords' power ought to be
curtailed. In 1909, hoping to force an election, the Lords rejected
the financial bill based on the government budget (the "People\'s
Budget ") put forward by
David Lloyd George
Samuel Begg’s depiction of the passing of the Parliament Bill in the House of Lords, 1911
The Lords was now faced with the prospect of a Parliament Act, which had considerable support from the Irish Nationalists. A series of meetings between the Liberal government and Unionist opposition members was agreed. Twenty-one such meetings were held between 16 June and 10 November. The discussions considered a wide range of proposals, with initial agreement on finance bills and a joint sitting of the House of Commons and Lords as a means by which to enforce Commons superiority in controversial areas; the number of Lords present would be limited such that a Liberal majority of 50 or more in the House of Commons could overrule the Lords. However, the issue of home rule for Ireland was the main contention, with Unionists looking to exempt such a law from the Parliament Act procedure by means of a general exception for "constitutional" or "structural" bills. The Liberals supported an exception for bills relating to the monarchy and Protestant succession, but not home rule. Discussions were declared failed on 10 November.
The government threatened another dissolution if the bill for the
Parliament Act were not passed, and followed through on their threat
when opposition in the Lords did not diminish. The general election of
December produced little change from January. The calling of a second
dissolution of parliament now seems to have been contrary to the
Edward VII . Edward had died in May 1910 while the crisis
was still in progress. His successor,
The preamble included the words "it is intended to substitute for the House of Lords as it at present exists a Second Chamber constituted on a popular instead of hereditary basis, but such substitution cannot be immediately brought into operation" at the request of prominent Cabinet member Sir Edward Grey . The long title of the Act was "An Act to make provision with respect to the powers of the House of Lords in relation to those of the House of Commons, and to limit the duration of Parliament." Section 8 defined the short title as the "Parliament Act 1911".
The bill was also an attempt to place the relationship between the House of Commons and House of Lords on a new footing. As well as the direct issue of money Bills, it set new conventions about how the power the Lords continued to hold would be used. It did not change the composition of the Lords, however.
The Lords would only be able to delay money bills for one month, effectively ending their ability to do so. These were defined as any public bill which contained only provisions dealing with the imposition, repeal, remission, alteration, or regulation of taxation ; the imposition for the payment of debt or other financial purposes of charges on the Consolidated Fund , or on money provided by Parliament, or the variation or repeal of any such charges; supply; the appropriation, receipt, custody, issue or audit of accounts of public money; and the raising or guarantee of any loan or the repayment thereof. It did not however, cover any sort of local taxes or similar measures. Some Finance Bills have not fallen within this criterion; Consolidated Fund and Appropriation Bills have. The Speaker of the House of Commons would have to certify that a bill was a money bill, endorsing it with a Speaker\'s certificate . The Local Government Finance Bill 1988 , which introduced the Community Charge ("Poll Tax"), was not certified as a Money Bill and was therefore considered by the Lords. Whilst Finance Bills are not considered Money Bills, convention dictates that those parts of a Finance Bill dealing with taxation or expenditure (which, if in an Act alone, would constitute a Money Bill) are not questioned.
Other public bills could no longer be vetoed ; instead, they could be delayed for up to two years. This two-year period meant that legislation introduced in the fourth or fifth years of a parliament could be delayed until after the next election, which could prove an effective measure to prevent it being passed. Specifically, two years had to elapse between the second reading in the House of Commons in the first session and the passing of the bill in the House of Commons in the third session. The Speaker has to also certify that the conditions of the bill had been complied with. Significant restrictions on amendments are made to ensure that it is the same bill that has been rejected twice. The 1911 Act made clear that the life of a parliament could not be extended without the consent of the Lords.
Parliament had been limited to a maximum of seven years under the
Septennial Act 1716 , but the
Parliament Act 1911
The Lords continued to suggest amendments to money bills over which it had no right of veto and in several instances, these were accepted by the Commons. These included the China Indemnity Bill 1925 and the Inshore Fishing Industry Bill 1947. The use of the Lords' now temporary veto, remains a powerful check on legislation.
It was used in relation to the
Government of Ireland Act 1914 , which
had been under the threat of a Lords veto, now removed. Ulster
Protestants had been firmly against the passing of the bill. However,
it never came into force because of the outbreak of the First World
War . Amendments to the
Parliament Act 1911
Legislation passed through the Parliament Act, without the consent of the Lords, is still considered primary legislation . The importance of this was highlighted in _ Jackson v Attorney General _, in which the lawfulness of the Parliament Act 1949 was questioned. The challenge asserted that the 1949 Parliament Act was delegated rather than primary legislation, and that the 1911 Parliament Act had delegated power to the Commons. If this were the case, then the House of Commons could not empower itself through the 1949 Parliament Act without direct permission from the House of Lords. Since it was passed under the 1911 Act, the 1949 Act had never received the required consent of the Lords. However, the Judicial Committee of the House of Lords found that the 1949 Act had been lawfully enacted. The 1911 Act, it concluded, was not primarily about empowering the Commons, but rather had the purpose of restricting the ability of the Lords to reject legislation. This ruling also appears to mean that efforts to abolish the House of Lords (a major constitutional change) by using the Act could be successful, although the issue was not directly addressed in the ruling.
Parliament Act 1911
It is also mentioned in discussion of constitutional convention . Whilst it replaced conventions regarding the role of the House of Lords, it also relies on several others. Section 1(1) only makes sense if money bills do not arise in the House of Lords and the provisions in section 2(1) only if proceedings on a public bill are completed in a single session, otherwise they must fail and be put through procedure again.
* ^ Jackson v Attorney General, UKHL 56, 4 All ER 1253.
* ^ The
Parliament Act 1949 , section 2(2). Digitised copy from the
UK Statute Law Database . Accessed on 2 December 2011.
* ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ _D_ _E_ _F_ _G_ _H_ Bradley, Ewing (2007). p. 203.
* ^ Magnus 1964, p540
* ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ Keir (1938). p. 477.
* ^ Barnett (2002). p. 535.
* ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ _D_ _E_ _F_ Jackson, Leopold (2001). p. 168.
* ^ Havighurst, Alfred F., _Britain in Transition: The Twentieth
Century_, University of Chicago Press, 1985, pp. 89–90: see Google
* ^ McKechnie, _The reform of the House of Lords_
* ^ Magnus 1964, p534
* ^ Ensor (1952). p. 417.
* ^ Ensor (1952). p. 420.
* ^ _A_ _B_ Ensor (1952). p. 422.
* ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ Ensor (1952). p. 423.
* ^ Keir (1938). pp. 477–478.
* ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ _D_ _E_ Bradley, Ewing (2007). p. 204.
* ^ _A_ _B_ Keir (1938). p. 478.
* ^ Joint Committee (2002). Section 6.
* ^ Jackson, Leopold (2001). p. 169.
* ^ Ensor (1952). pp. 419–420.
* ^ "Parliament Act 1911: Introduction". _legislation.gov.uk_.
Retrieved 25 September 2011.
* ^ "Parliament Act 1911: Section 8". _legislation.gov.uk_.
Retrieved 25 September 2011.
* ^ Bradley, Ewing (2007). p. 27.
* ^ _A_ _B_ Joint Committee (2002). Section 7.
* ^ "Parliament Act 1911: Section 1". _legislation.gov.uk_.
Retrieved 25 September 2011.
* ^ _A_ _B_ Barnett (2002). p. 536.
* ^ Barnett (2002). p. 494–495.
* ^ Bradley, Ewing (2007). p. 205.
* ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ Bradley, Ewing (2007). p. 68.
* ^ Bradley, Ewing (2007). pp. 187–188.
* ^ Bradley, Ewing (2007). p. 153.
* ^ Bradley, Ewing (2007). p. 40.
* ^ Bradley, Ewing (2007). p. 57.
* ^ _A_ _B_ Barnett, Jago (2011). p. 445.
* ^ Bradley, Ewing (2007). p. 74.
* ^ Bradley, Ewing (2007). pp. 5–6.
* ^ Bradley, Ewing (2007). pp. 15–16.
* ^ Jaconelli, Joseph (2005). "Do Constitutional Conventions
* "Joint Committee on House of Lords Reform First Report". _parliament.co.uk_. HMSO . 2002. Retrieved 25 September 2011. * "HOUSE of LORDS - BRIEFING - REFORM AND PROPOSALS FOR REFORM SINCE 1900". _parliament.co.uk_. 2000. * Barnett, Hilaire (2002). _Constitutional and Administrative Law_ (3rd ed.). London: Cavendish Pub Ltd. ISBN 978-1-85941-721-8 . * Barnett, Hilaire; Jago, Robert (2011). _Constitutional & Administrative Law_ (8th ed.). New York: Taylor & Francis. ISBN 0-415-57881-7 . * Ensor, R. C. K. (1952). _England 1870–1914_. The Oxford History of England. Oxford: Clarendon Press. OCLC 5079147 . * Bradley, A. W.; Ewing, K. D. (2007). _Constitutional and Administrative Law_ (14th ed.). Harlow, United Kingdom: Longman. ISBN 1-4058-1207-9 . * Jackson, Paul; Leopold, Patricia (2001). _O. Hood Phillips & Jackson: Constitutional and Administrative Law_ (8th ed.). London: Sweet and Maxwell. ISBN 0-421-57480-1 . * Keir, David L. (1938). _The Constitutional History of Modern Britain_. London: A & C Black. OCLC 463283191 . * Magnus, Philip (1964), _King Edward The Seventh_, London: John Murray, ISBN 0140026584 * McKechnie, William Sharp , 1909: _The Reform of the House of Lords_ * Somervell, D.C. (1936) _The Reign of King George V,_ pp 17 – 28.online free
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