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[sheriff of every county, the King's writ being sent to him at the end of every session, together with a transcript of all the Acts made at that session, commanding him, “ut statuta illa, et omnes articulos in eisdem contentos, in “ singulis locis ubi expedire viderit, publicè proclamari, et “ firmiter teneri et observari faciat.” And the usage was to proclaim them at the county court of the sheriff, and there to keep them, that whoever would might read or take copies thereof. This custom continued till the reign of Henry the Seventh (ë).
An Act of Parliament thus made, is the exercise of the highest authority that this kingdom acknowledges upon earth ; it binds every subject in the land, and the dominions thereunto belonging — nay, even the king himself, if particularly named therein. It cannot be altered, amended, dispensed with, suspended, or repealed, but in the same forms, and by the same authority of parliament; it being a maxim of the law, that it requires the same strength to dissolve as to create an obligation. It was indeed formerly held, that the king might in some cases dispense with penal statutes (k); but by the Bill of Rights of 1689, it was declared that the power of suspending or dispensing with laws, by regal authority without consent of parliament, “as it hath been assumed and exercised of late," was altogether. illegal. Such suspension or dispensation on the part of the Crown therefore now requires an Act of Parliament enabling the Crown in that behalf (1).
VII. There remains only, in the seventh and last place, to add a' word or two concerning the manner in which parliaments may be adjourned, prorogued or dissolved.
An adjournment is no more than a continuance of the
(i) 3 Inst. 41 ; 4 Inst. 26.
(k) Finch, L. 82, 234 ; Bacon, Elem. ch. 19.
(l) The Remission of Penalties Act, 1875.e.g., enables the Crown to dispense with the penalties under the Sunday Observance Act, 1780.
[session from one day to another, as the word itself signifies. This is done by the authority of each house separately every day; and sometimes for a fortnight or a month together, as at Christmas or Easter, or upon other particular occasions. But the adjournment of one house is no adjournment of the other (m). It hath also been usual, when his Majesty hath signified his pleasure that both or either of the houses should adjourn themselves to a certain day, to obey the royal pleasure so signified, and to adjourn accordingly (n). Otherwise, besides the indecorum of a refusal, a prorogation would assuredly follow : which would often be very inconvenient both to public and private business. For a prorogation puts an end to the session, and then such bills as are only begun and not perfected, must be resumed de noro (if at all) in a subsequent session ; whereas, after an adjournment, all things continue in the same state as at the time of the adjournment made, and may be proceeded on without any fresh commencement.
A prorogation is the continuance of the parliament from one session to another, as an adjournment is a continuation of the session from day to day ; and a prorogation is by the royal authority alone, usually expressed by the lord chancellor, in the presence of, or by commission from, the Crown, or else by proclamation.] By the Prorogation Act, 1867, such last mode of announcing the royal intention is expressly made sufficient notice thereof, provided the day of prorogation be to some day not less than fourteen days from the day for which parliament then stood summoned or prorogued ; and provided also that the prorogation be not at the close of a session, to which case the Act is not to apply. [Both houses are necessarily prorogued at the same time, the prorogation not being of the house of lords, or commons, but of the parliament. The session is never understood to be at an end until a prorogation ; though, (unless some Act were passed or some judgment given in parliament, it would in truth be no session at all (o). And formerly the usage was, for the king from time to time to give the royal assent to all such bills as he approved, and then to prorogue the parliament, though sometimes only for a day or two, and thus end the session (p); which custom obtained so strongly, that it was at one time made a question whether giving the royal assent to a single bill did not, as of course, put an end to the session (9). And, though it was then resolved in the negative, yet the notion was so deeply rooted, that the statute 1 Car. I. (1625), c. 7, was passed to declare, that the king's assent to that and some other Acts should not put an end to the session. And even afterwards, in the reign of Charles the Second, we find a proviso tacked to the first bill then enacted, that his majesty's assent thereto should not determine the session of parliament (r). But it now seems to be allowed, that a prorogation must be expressly made, in order to determine the session.] The prorogation is to a day fixed; but by the joint effect of the Meeting of Parliament Acts, 1797, 1799, and 1870, the Crown may now by proclamation at any time, without regard to the period to which parliament may stand prorogued or adjourned, appoint it to reassemble for dispatch of business at the expiration of six days from the date of the proclamation.
(m) 4 Inst. 28.
11th June, 1572, ; 21st May,
[A dissolution is the civil death of the parliament; and this may be effected in three ways (s), that is to say :
1. A parliament may be dissolved by the king's will, expressed either in person or by representation. For, as he has the sole right of convening the parliament, so also it is a branch of the royal prerogative, that he may, whenever he pleases, either prorogue the parliament for a time, or put a final period to its existence. If none but
(0) 4 Inst. 28 ; Hale, Parl. 38.
(r) See, for example, 22 & 23 Car. 2 (1670), c. 1.
(*) Com. Dig. Parl. P. 1, 2.
[itself had a right to prorogue or dissolve a parliament, it might happen to become perpetual. And this would be extremely dangerous, if at any time it should attempt to encroach upon the executive power ; as was fatally experienced by the unfortunate King Charles the First, who, having unadvisedly passed an Act to continue the parliament then in being to such time as it should please to dissolve itself, at last fell a sacrifice to that inordinate power which he himself had consented to give it.
2. Until recently it was the rule, that any parliament in being was dissolved by the demise of the Crown. And, by the common law, this dissolution happened immediately upon the death of the reigning monarch ; for he being considered in law as the head of the parliament (caput, principium, et finis), that failing, the whole body was held to be extinct (t). But the calling a new parliament immediately on the inauguration of the successor being found inconvenient, and dangers being apprehended from having no parliament in being, in case of a disputed succession, it was provided by an Act of 1696 (u), that the parliament in being should continue for six months, but no longer, after the demise of the Crown, unless sooner prorogued or dissolved by the successor ; and that, if it were at the time of such demise separated by adjournment or prorogation, it should re-assemble immediately. It was also enacted by the Meeting of Parliament Act, 1797 (.), that, in case of such demise between a dissolution and the day appointed by the writs of summons for the meeting of a new parliament, the last preceding parliament should immediately convene for six months, unless sooner prorogued or dissolved by the succeeding monarch ; and that in the event of such demise on or after the day appointed for assembling the new parliament, but before it had in fact assembled, then the new parliament should in like manner convene for six months, unless sooner prorogued or dissolved. The law on this subject, however, is now regulated by the Representation of the People Act, 1867, s. 51, which enacts, that “the parliament in being at any future demise of the Crown shall not be determined or dissolved by such demise, but shall continue so long as it would have continued but for such demise, unless it shall be sooner prorogued or dissolved by the Crown.”
(1) Accordingly, offices held under the Crown, were formerly, in general, vacated by the deniise of the Crown (Bac. Ab. Courts (C.)); but by the Succession to the Crown Act, 1707, and the Demise of the Crown Act, 1727, commissions and offices under the Crown (whether civil or military) were continued for six months after the demise, and by the Demise of the Crown Act, 1830, no fees
or stamp duties were to be charged on the renewal of them. But now, under the Demise of the Crown Act, 1901, the holding of any office under the Crown is not to be affected by the demise of the Crown. As to the commissions of the judger, ride poxt, Chap. x., on Magistrates.
(u) 7 & 8 Will. 3, c. 15, repealed by Statute Law Revision Act, 1867.,
(sr) Sections 3, 4, and 5.
3. [Originally the duration of Parliament was limited only by the pleasure or death of the king ; but more than two centuries ago legislation interfered, and now a parliament may be dissolved or expire by length of time. For if either the legislative body were perpetual, or might last for the life of the prince who convened it, as formerly, then if it were once corrupted, the evil would be past all remedy ; but when different bodies succeed each other, if the people see cause to disapprove of the present, they may rectify its faults in the next. A legislative assembly, also, which is sure to be separated again, whereby its members will themselves become private men, and subject to the laws which they have themselves enacted, will think itself bound, in interest as well as in duty, to make only such laws as are good. The utmost extent of time that the same parliament was allowed to sit was, by the Triennial Act, 1694, three years ; after the expiration of which, reckoning from the day of meeting appointed by the writ of summons, the parliament was to have no longer continuance. But the Septennial Act, 1715, in order, professedly, to prevent the great and continued expenses