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Bill of Rights 1689

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Bill of Rights[nb 1]
Long titleAn Act Declaring the Rights and Liberties of the Subject and Settling the Succession of the Crown.
Citation1 William & Mary Sess 2 c 2
Royal assent16 December 1689
Status: Amended
Revised text of statute as amended
The Bill of Rights
English Bill of Rights of 1689.jpg
LocationParliamentary Archives
Author(s)Parliament of England
PurposeAssert the rights of Parliament and the individual, and ensure a Protestant political supremacy

The Bill of Rights, also known as the English Bill of Rights, is an Act of the Parliament of England that sets out certain basic civil rights and clarifies who would be next to inherit the Crown. It received the Royal Assent on 16 December 1689 and is a restatement in statutory form of the Declaration of Right presented by the Convention Parliament to William III and Mary II in February 1689, inviting them to become joint sovereigns of England. The Bill of Rights lays down limits on the powers of the monarch and sets out the rights of Parliament, including the requirement for regular parliaments, free elections, and freedom of speech in Parliament.[1] It sets out certain rights of individuals including the prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment and reestablished the right of Protestants to have arms for their defence within the rule of law. It also includes no right of taxation without Parliament’s agreement. Furthermore, the Bill of Rights described and condemned several misdeeds of James II of England.[2]

These ideas reflected those of the political thinker John Locke and they quickly became popular in England.[3] It also sets out – or, in the view of its drafters, restates – certain constitutional requirements of the Crown to seek the consent of the people, as represented in Parliament.[4]

In the United Kingdom, the Bill of Rights is further accompanied by Magna Carta, the Petition of Right, the Habeas Corpus Act 1679 and the Parliament Acts 1911 and 1949 as some of the basic documents of the uncodified British constitution. A separate but similar document, the Claim of Right Act 1689, applies in Scotland. The Bill of Rights 1689 was one of the models for the United States Bill of Rights of 1789, the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 and the European Convention on Human Rights of 1950.[1]

Along with the Act of Settlement 1701, the Bill of Rights is still in effect in all Commonwealth realms. Following the Perth Agreement in 2011, legislation amending both of them came into effect across the Commonwealth realms on 26 March 2015.

YouTube Encyclopedic

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  • ✪ England's 'Glorious Revolution' Explained
  • ✪ English Bill of Rights
  • ✪ Glorious Revolution & Bill of Rights (1688-1689)
  • ✪ Magna Carta, English Bill of Rights, and American Government
  • ✪ Bill of Rights 1689


You’ll see so much weirdness in this one image that I want point it out to you bit by bit. So this is obviously a coronation ceremony. Specifically, it’s the coronation of William and Mary in England, 1689. And that’s the first peculiarity. They’re being coronated as co-regents, co-monarchs- sharing power between two in a role which we typically have in our head as a job for one. So, a split crown and authority. Second oddity, one of those co-regents, William, on the verge of being King of England, Scotland, and Ireland, is neither English, Scottish, or Irish- but rather, Dutch. But most history books will describe no great war between England and the Netherlands in this period. So how did a Dutchman rise to share the throne? And last, the peculiarity I think most significant: the document being held in front of them. It’s not what we might expect at a coronation: a congratulatory letter, a religious text, or a royal poem- no. It’s a list of demands from the Parliament. It starts with complaints against the predecessor King, James II, and then lists a series of desired limitations on the new monarch's powers. Granted, it wasn’t technically required William and Mary accept these limitations in order to ascend to the throne. Nonetheless, an odd way to greet your new King and Queen- crashing their coronation to tell them what they shouldn’t do. It’s a lot to digest, but understanding this mystery will allow us to focus on the foundation of power in the United Kingdom’s political system. I’ll address the Dutchman first. William of Orange invaded England in 1688. A prince from the Netherlands crossing the channel with a fleet of ships, landing in Brixham, and successfully marching his force to Westminster to be crowned King is a deceptively simple explanation of what happened. That’s because William of Orange was invited to invade. Though by nationality he was absolutely foreign, he had a couple things going for him: Perhaps most important, he was a protestant at a time when England’s King, James II, was catholic. Now James II enjoyed support from Catholics within Ireland and Scotland, but sentiment in England was resoundingly anti-catholic after years of religious violence between the two. They resented pushes by James II to normalize catholicism in the Kingdom. They claimed that he suspended laws of Parliament in order to so. They feared his drives to maintain a standing army as the actions of a tyrant. And as a catalyst to their angst, James II’s wife gave birth to a son in 1688- as critics saw it, a son who would continue the tyrannical catholic dynasty over Protestant England. Which brings us to the second thing William of Orange had going for him as an invader of the British Isles: he was also a part of King James family; he was James’ son-in-law, the husband of Mary, a product of James first marriage. So why would being in the hated king’s family actually help? Well, the newborn and direct catholic heir to the throne was a product of James’ 2nd marriage. By invading, removing James and his second family, and installing himself, William of Orange broke the catholic part out of the equation while still maintaining royal lineage through James’ protestant daughter and through himself, her protestant husband. In a letter addressed to William of Orange by seven powerful noblemen, each carrying a title like Earl, Bishop, or Lord, the state of mind of English Protestants, particularly Protestant elites, came into view. This was 1688. They wrote to William, “The people are so generally dissatisfied with the present conduct of the government in relation to their religion, liberties and properties (all which have been greatly invaded)...It is no less certain that much the greatest part of the nobility and gentry are as much dissatisfied...And there is no doubt but that some of the most considerable of them would venture themselves with your highness at your first landing…” Please Dutch Prince. Come depose our king, and bring his daughter too. You might also notice two distinct, diverging lines of reasoning here. We already mentioned religion. James wanted catholicism legally accepted in English society, and his protestant opposition, ‘averse’ to what they called the ‘popish religion’. The second line of reasoning seems to contradict the first. They get on a ramble in the letter about Parliament and end with this: “if things cannot then be carried to [the King’s] wishes in a Parliamentary way, other measures will be put in execution by more violent means,” Basically, the catholic king will continue to ask things of Parliament which Parliament doesn’t want to give, and upon denial, he will usurp the Parliament with violence. Thus, the king is a tyrant, as they wrote, ‘religion, liberties and properties...greatly invaded’. I only mention this second line of reasoning to you because, though mixed in with the religious stuff, their complaints about the king threatening the legislative body proves important to our exploration. William receives the letter and agrees. What was astounding with William’s 1698 invasion was the lack of violence. Resistance would come from the Scottish and Irish in the following years, but during the initial march, William and his 25 thousand men quickly gained support on their way to London. As Professor Steven Pincus describes in his brief history of the Glorious Revolution, “Common people, gentry, and nobility, disgusted with James II’s government but fearing his power, soon found the courage to pour into William’s camp and rise independently throughout England, offering both physical and financial support,” William of Orange landed in England, marched towards London, was greeted by cheering crowds and defecting soldiers of King James- who then fled to France. At their own behest, William and Mary acceded together as King William III and Queen Mary II, hence the picture with which we started. And we can now finally address that document-that list of demands being read to them at their 1689 coronation. It starts with complaints against James II on religious grounds: ‘subverting protestantism, affiliating with the Catholic church, disarming protestants while arming Catholics’ This has been interpreted as the more conservative part of the 1689 revolution. But then came, for our purposes, the more interesting bits. They complained of the King: ‘Dispensing and suspending laws without Parliament’s consent, using tax funds for purposes other than what was intended by Parliament, maintaining a standing army without Parliament’s consent, and by blocking free elections of Parliament…’ As John Locke might say, the social contract was broken. Absolutism was under attack-not an uncommon theme in 17th century English history, but now it would be codified. Late 1689: the Parliament creates a statute form of their listed complaints and restrictions; they author and pass the Bill of Rights. Included were the aforementioned exclusive powers of Parliament to create and terminate law, levy tax, and maintain an army. But also, a vague but precedent setting provision for free elections of the Parliament and free speech within it. If the Magna Carta in 1215 was an attempt to subject the King to his own laws- a foundation of limited government, this was now an Act, almost 500 years later, that future lawmaking must go through an elected Parliament. The sovereignty, the crown of the monarch was moving from the palace to the Parliament and would gather there through to our time. Hence where we get the controversial term, Parliamentary Sovereignty, a concept which evolved after the revolution in 1689 and is best described by constitutional theorist A.V. Dicey in his Introduction to the Study of the Law of the Constitution. He writes, “Parliament thus defined has, under the English constitution, the right to make or unmake any law whatever: and, further, that no person or body is recognised by the law of England as having a right to override or set aside the legislation of Parliament,” In layman’s terms which I’ve seen laid out in a couple different places: ‘Parliament may legislate on any subject. No parliament can bind its successors or be bound by its predecessors. No person or entity can challenge the validity of an act of Parliament, ‘be they court or King,’ (Jago). In this model, the ‘checks and balances’ so inherent to the American Constitution simply don't exist as we would recognize them. You and I could draw the American system like this, with the Congress creating law, Executive enforcing law, and judiciary interpreting law- each impacting the others, but acting independently. If we would attempt to do the same for the United Kingdom, we would encounter great overlap, as everyone from the Prime Minister to the Civil Service all serve at the pleasure of the majority in Parliament. The glorious revolution in 1698 led to an institution with, if not complete sovereignty, expansive power in the United Kingdom- the legal right to legislate on any topic without question. But Parliamentary Sovereignty doesn’t come without criticism. Struggling a bit with the concept myself, I grabbed a couple books from the library. This one, “Essentials of UK Politics,” by Andrew Heywood has a digestible objection. He writes, “Parliament is not and has never been politically sovereign. Parliament has the legal right to make, amend, or unmake any law it wishes, but not always the political ability to do so. A simple example would be that Parliament could, in theory, abolish elections, but this would be likely to result in widespread public protests, if not popular rebellion,” Even if all this criticism is true-distinguishing the legal right and the political ability of Parliament-in my opinion there’s still no proper checks and balances. The American Supreme Court is an institution we know to be a check on the President and the congress. The United Kingdom Supreme Court, by contrast, was created by Parliament in 2005, and defaults to Parliamentary Sovereignty when making rulings. In short, the UK Constitution is malleable, and that’s what makes it interesting. The result of England’s Revolution in 1689 was a document meant to create a wall of separation between the monarch and the legislature. And to an American observer, it does seem like a radical concentration of power, one the writers of the American Constitution sought to avoid by creating three coequal branches of government. But while American founders distinguished their new system from the one developing in Westminster Palace, they embraced some of its core messaging; and I think you’ll find the echo of the protests in the English Declaration of Rights against King James reverberates in a familiar way on second listening: “unqualified persons have been returned and served on juries...excessive bail... And illegal and cruel punishments inflicted,” “For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury,” “By raising and keeping a standing army within this kingdom in time of peace without consent of Parliament,” “He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures,” “and quartering soldiers contrary to law” “quartering large bodies of armed troops among us,” “By violating the freedom of election of members to serve in Parliament,” “For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever,” “Dispensing and suspending laws without Parliament’s consent,” “He has refused his Assent to Laws...necessary for the public good..” “By levying money for...another manner than the same was granted by Parliament,” “For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent,” “King James the Second having abdicated the government,” “He has abdicated Government here.” Resistance to absolutism, limited government, social contracts, taxation only with representation-ironically, the American Declaration of Independence, the document meant to forever disconnect the United States and the Kingdom of Great Britain, actually reveals our common heritage.



During the 17th century, there was renewed interest in Magna Carta.[5][6] The Parliament of England passed the Petition of Right in 1628 which established certain liberties for subjects. The English Civil War (1642–1651) was fought between the King and an oligarchic but elected Parliament,[7][8] during which the idea of a political party took form with groups debating rights to political representation during the Putney Debates of 1647.[9] Subsequently, the Protectorate (1653–1659) and the English Restoration (1660) restored more autocratic rule although Parliament passed the Habeas Corpus Act in 1679, which strengthened the convention that forbade detention lacking sufficient cause or evidence.

Glorious Revolution

Objecting to the policies of King James II of England (James VII of Scotland and James II of Ireland), a group of English Parliamentarians invited the Dutch stadtholder William III of Orange-Nassau (William of Orange) to overthrow the King. William's successful invasion with a Dutch fleet and army led to James fleeing to France. In December 1688, William took over the provisional government by appointment of the peers of the realm, as was the legal right of the latter in circumstances when the King was incapacitated, and summoned an assembly of certain members of parliament. This assembly called for an English Convention Parliament to be elected, which convened on 22 January 1689.[10][11]

Declaration of Right

An 18th century engraving, based on a drawing by Samuel Wale, of the Bill of Rights being presented to William III and Mary II
An 18th century engraving, based on a drawing by Samuel Wale, of the Bill of Rights being presented to William III and Mary II

The proposal to draw up a statement of rights and liberties and James's violation of them was first made on 29 January 1689 in the House of Commons, with members arguing that the House "cannot answer it to the nation or Prince of Orange till we declare what are the rights invaded" and that William "cannot take it ill if we make conditions to secure ourselves for the future" in order to "do justice to those who sent us hither". On 2 February a committee specially convened reported to the Commons 23 Heads of Grievances, which the Commons approved and added some of their own. However, on 4 February the Commons decided to instruct the committee to differentiate between "such of the general heads, as are introductory of new laws, from those that are declaratory of ancient rights". On 7 February the Commons approved this revised Declaration of Right, and on 8 February instructed the committee to put into a single text the Declaration (with the heads which were "introductory of new laws" removed), the resolution of 28 January and the Lords' proposal for a revised oath of allegiance. It passed the Commons without division.[12]

On 13 February the clerk of the House of Lords read the Declaration of Right, and the Marquess of Halifax, in the name of all the estates of the realm, asked William and Mary to accept the throne. William replied for his wife and himself: "We thankfully accept what you have offered us". They then went in procession to the great gate at Whitehall. The Garter King at Arms proclaimed them King and Queen of England, France, and Ireland, whereupon they adjourned to the Chapel Royal, with the Bishop of London preaching the sermon.[13] They were crowned on 11 April, swearing an oath to uphold the laws made by Parliament. The Coronation Oath Act 1688 had provided a new coronation oath, whereby the monarchs were to "solemnly promise and swear to govern the people of this kingdom of England, and the dominions thereunto belonging, according to the statutes in parliament agreed on, and the laws and customs of the same". They were also to maintain the laws of God, the true profession of the Gospel, and the Protestant Reformed faith established by law.[14] This replaced an oath which had deferred more to the monarch. The previous oath required the monarch to rule based on "the laws and customs ... granted by the Kings of England".[15]

Provisions of the Act

The Declaration of Right was enacted in an Act of Parliament, the Bill of Rights 1689, which received the Royal Assent in December 1689.[16] The Act asserted "certain ancient rights and liberties" by declaring that:[17]

  • the pretended power of suspending the laws and dispensing with[nb 2] laws by regal authority without consent of Parliament is illegal;
  • the commission for ecclesiastical causes is illegal;
  • levying taxes without grant of Parliament is illegal;
  • it is the right of the subjects to petition the king, and prosecutions for such petitioning are illegal;
  • keeping a standing army in time of peace, unless it be with consent of Parliament, is against law;[nb 3]
  • Protestants may have arms for their defence suitable to their conditions and as allowed by law;
  • election of members of Parliament ought to be free;
  • the freedom of speech and debates or proceedings in Parliament ought not to be impeached or questioned in any court or place out of Parliament;
  • excessive bail ought not to be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted;
  • jurors in trials for high treason ought to be freeholders;
  • promises of fines and forfeitures before conviction are illegal and void;
  • for redress of all grievances, and for the amending, strengthening and preserving of the laws, Parliaments ought to be held frequently.

The Act declared James' flight from England following the Glorious Revolution to be an abdication of the throne. It listed twelve of James's policies by which James designed to "endeavour to subvert and extirpate the protestant religion, and the laws and liberties of this kingdom".[18] These were:[19]

  • by assuming and exercising a power of dispensing with and suspending of laws and the execution of laws without consent of Parliament;
  • by prosecuting the Seven Bishops; by establishing of the court of commissioners for ecclesiastical causes;
  • by levying taxes for the use of the Crown by pretence of prerogative as if the same was granted by Parliament;
  • by raising and keeping a standing army within this kingdom in time of peace without consent of Parliament;
  • by causing Protestants to be disarmed at the same time when papists were both armed and employed contrary to law;
  • by violating the freedom of election of members to serve in Parliament;
  • by prosecutions in the Court of King's Bench for matters and causes cognizable only in Parliament, and by divers other arbitrary and illegal courses;
  • by employing unqualified persons on juries in trials, and jurors in trials for high treason which were not freeholders;
  • by imposing excessive bail on persons committed in criminal cases against the laws made for the liberty of the subjects;
  • by imposing excessive fines and illegal and cruel punishments;
  • by making several grants and promises made of fines and forfeitures before any conviction or judgment against the persons upon whom the same were to be levied;
  • all which are utterly and directly contrary to the known laws and statutes and freedom of this realm.

In a prelude to the Act of Settlement to come twelve years later, the Bill of Rights barred Roman Catholics from the throne of England as "it hath been found by experience that it is inconsistent with the safety and welfare of this Protestant kingdom to be governed by a papist prince"; thus William III and Mary II were named as the successors of James II and that the throne would pass from them first to Mary's heirs, then to her sister, Princess Anne of Denmark and her heirs (and, thereafter, to any heirs of William by a later marriage).

Date and title

The Bill of Rights is commonly dated in legal contexts to 1688. This convention arises from the legal fiction (prior to the passage of the Acts of Parliament (Commencement) Act 1793) that an Act of Parliament came into force on the first day of the session in which it was passed. The Bill was therefore deemed to be effective from 13 February 1689 (New Style), or, under the Old Style calendar in use at the time, 13 February 1688.

Under the Short Titles Act 1896, the Bill was given the official short title of "The Bill of Rights", without a calendar year suffix.[20]

Augmentation and effect

The Bill of Rights was later supplemented by the Act of Settlement 1701 (which was agreed to by the Parliament of Scotland as part of the Treaty of Union). The Act of Settlement altered the line of succession to the throne laid out in the Bill of Rights.[21] However, both the Bill of Rights and the Claim of Right contributed a great deal to the establishment of the concept of parliamentary sovereignty and the curtailment of the powers of the monarch.[22][23][24] Leading, ultimately, to the establishment of constitutional monarchy,[25] while also (along with the penal laws) settling the political and religious turmoil that had convulsed Scotland, England and Ireland in the 17th century.

The Bill of Rights (1689) reinforced the Petition of Right (1628) and the Habeas Corpus Act (1679) by codifying certain rights and liberties. Described by William Blackstone as Fundamental Laws of England, the rights expressed in these Acts became associated with the idea of the rights of Englishmen.[26] The Bill of Rights directly influenced the 1776 Virginia Declaration of Rights,[nb 4] which in turn influenced the Declaration of Independence.[27]

Although not a comprehensive statement of civil and political liberties, the Bill of Rights stands as one of the landmark documents in the development of civil liberties in the United Kingdom and a model for later, more general, statements of rights;[15] these include the United States Bill of Rights, the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights.[28][29] For example, as with the Bill of Rights 1689, the US Constitution prohibits excessive bail and "cruel and unusual punishment". Similarly, "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment" is banned under Article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Legal status

The Bill of Rights remains in statute and continues to be cited in legal proceedings in the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth realms, particularly Article 9 on parliamentary freedom of speech.[30][31] Following the Perth Agreement in 2011, legislation amending the Bill of Rights and the Act of Settlement 1701 came into effect across the Commonwealth realms on 26 March 2015 which changed the laws of succession to the British throne.[nb 5]

Part of the Bill of Rights remains in statute in the Republic of Ireland.

United Kingdom

The Bill of Rights applies in England and Wales; it was enacted in the Kingdom of England which at the time included Wales. Scotland has its own legislation, the Claim of Right Act 1689, passed before the Act of Union between England and Scotland. There are doubts as to whether, or to what extent, the Bill of Rights applies in Northern Ireland.[30][nb 6]

On 21 July 1995 a libel case brought by Neil Hamilton (then a member of parliament) against The Guardian was stopped after Justice May[dubious ] ruled that the Bill of Rights' prohibition on the courts' ability to question parliamentary proceedings would prevent The Guardian from obtaining a fair hearing. Section 13 of the Defamation Act 1996, was subsequently enacted to permit MPs to waive their parliamentary privilege and thus cite their own speeches if relevant to litigation.[34]

Following the United Kingdom European Union membership referendum in 2016, the Bill of Rights was cited by the Supreme Court in the Miller case, in which the court ruled that triggering EU exit must first be authorised by an act of Parliament.[35][36]


The ninth article, regarding parliamentary freedom of speech, is actively used in Australia.[30]


The article on parliamentary freedom of speech is in active use in Canada.[30]

New Zealand

The Bill of Rights was invoked in New Zealand in the 1976 case of Fitzgerald v Muldoon and Others,[37] which centred on the purporting of newly appointed Prime Minister Robert Muldoon that he would advise the Governor-General to abolish a superannuation scheme established by the New Zealand Superannuation Act, 1974, without new legislation. Muldoon felt that the dissolution would be immediate and he would later introduce a bill in parliament to retroactively make the abolition legal. This claim was challenged in court and the Chief Justice declared that Muldoon's actions were illegal as they had violated Article 1 of the Bill of Rights, which provides "that the pretended power of dispensing with laws or the execution of laws by regal authority ... is illegal."[38]

Republic of Ireland

The Act was retained in the Republic of Ireland although sections were repealed by the Statute Law Revision Act 2007 section 2(2)(a),[39] and Part 2 of Schedule 1.[40] Section 2(3) of that Act repealed:

  • all of the Preamble down to "Upon which Letters Elections having been accordingly made"
  • the seventh paragraph "Subjects’ Arms. That the Subjects which are Protestants may have Arms for their Defence suitable to their Conditions and as allowed by Law."
  • all words from "And they doe Claime Demand and Insist" down to, but not including, section 2, bars Roman Catholics from Crown or Government, succession et cetera.

Modern recognition

Two special designs of commemorative two pound coins were issued in the United Kingdom in 1989 to celebrate the tercentenary of the Glorious Revolution. One referred to the Bill of Rights and the other to the Claim of Right. Both depict the Royal Cypher of William and Mary and the mace of the House of Commons, one also shows a representation of the St Edward's Crown and the other the Crown of Scotland.[41]

In May 2011, the Bill of Rights was inscribed in UNESCO's UK Memory of the World Register recognizing that:[42]

All the main principles of the Bill of Rights are still in force today, and the Bill of Rights continues to be cited in legal cases in the UK and in Commonwealth countries. It has a primary place in a wider national historical narrative of documents which established the rights of Parliament and set out universal civil liberties, starting with Magna Carta in 1215. It also has international significance, as it was a model for the US Bill of Rights 1789, and its influence can be seen in other documents which establish rights of human beings, such as the Declaration of the Rights of Man, the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights.[28]

As part of the Parliament in the Making programme, the Bill of Rights was on display at the Houses of Parliament in February 2015 and at the British Library from March through September 2015.[43][44]

See also


  1. ^ The Act is cited as "The Bill of Rights" in the United Kingdom, as authorised by section 1 of, and the First Schedule to, the Short Titles Act 1896. Owing to the repeal of those provisions, it is now authorised by section 19(2) of the Interpretation Act 1978. In the Republic of Ireland, it is cited as "The Bill of Rights 1688", as authorised by section 1 of, and the First Schedule to, the Short Titles Act 1896 (as amended by section 5(a) of the Statute Law Revision Act 2007). The short title of this Act was previously "The Bill of Rights".
  2. ^ i.e. ignoring
  3. ^ Arguably, this right is subject to continuing derogation in modern times; see, for example, Armed Forces Act and discussion of the same in Military Covenant.
  4. ^ Section Seven of the Virginia Declaration of Rights reads,
    That all power of suspending laws, or the execution of laws, by any authority, without consent of the representatives of the people, is injurious to their rights and ought not to be exercised.
    which strongly echoes the first two "ancient rights and liberties" asserted in the Bill of Rights 1689:
    That the pretended power of suspending the laws or the execution of laws by regal authority without consent of Parliament is illegal;
    That the pretended power of dispensing with laws or the execution of laws by regal authority, as it hath been assumed and exercised of late, is illegal;
    And the Virginia Declaration's Section Nine,
    That excessive bail ought not to be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
    is borrowed word for word from the Bill of Rights 1689.
  5. ^ In Quebec the validity of the Canadian parliament's legislation is under judicial review. Blanchfield, Mike (22 July 2013). "Quebec government to mount legal challenge to new royal succession law". National Post.
  6. ^ The United Kingdom consists of four countries and three distinct legal systems: England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.[32][33] These jurisdictions have particular legal considerations of their own, arising from differences in English law, Scots law and Northern Ireland law.


  1. ^ a b "Bill of Rights 1689". Parliament UK. Retrieved April 30, 2019.
  2. ^ The key landmark is the Bill of Rights (1689), which established the supremacy of Parliament over the Crown. ... The Bill of Rights (1689) then settled the primacy of Parliament over the monarch’s prerogatives, providing for the regular meeting of Parliament, free elections to the Commons, free speech in parliamentary debates, and some basic human rights, most famously freedom from ‘cruel or unusual punishment’. "Britain's unwritten constitution". British Library. Retrieved 27 November 2015.
  3. ^ Schwoerer 1990, pp. 531–548.
  4. ^ Maurice Adams; Anne Meuwese; Ernst Hirsch Ballin (2017). Constitutionalism and the Rule of Law: Bridging Idealism and Realism. Cambridge University Press. p. 97. ISBN 9781316883259 – via Google Books.
  5. ^ "From legal document to public myth: Magna Carta in the 17thth century". The British Library. Retrieved 2017-10-16
  6. ^ "Magna Carta: Magna Carta in the 17th century". The Society of Antiquaries of London. Retrieved 2017-10-16.
  7. ^ "Origins and growth of Parliament". The National Archives. Retrieved 7 April 2015.
  8. ^ "Rise of Parliament". The National Archives. Retrieved 7 April 2015.
  9. ^ "Putney debates". The British Library. Retrieved 22 December 2016.
  10. ^ Anon. 2010, pp. 2–4.
  11. ^ "Bill of Rights". British Library. Retrieved 23 June 2015.
  12. ^ Horwitz 1977, p. 12.
  13. ^ Carpenter 1956, pp. 145–146.
  14. ^ Williams 1960, pp. 37–39.
  15. ^ a b "The Convention and Bill of Rights". UK Parliament. Retrieved 2 November 2014.
  16. ^ Thatcher 1907, pp. 10.
  17. ^ Williams 1960, pp. 28–29.
  18. ^ Williams 1960, p. 26.
  19. ^ Williams 1960, p. 27.
  20. ^ "Bill of Rights [1688]". note X1. Retrieved 14 July 2015.
  21. ^ "The Act of Settlement". UK Parliament. Retrieved 8 November 2014.
  22. ^ This vigorous assertion of the rights of the subject meant that the Bill of Rights is often seen as parallel in importance with Magna Carta itself. "The Bill of Rights". British Library. Retrieved 27 November 2015.
  23. ^ Although the Bill of Rights attacked the abuse of prerogative power rather than prerogative power itself, it had the virtue of enshrining in statute what many regarded as ancient rights and liberties. However, some historians maintain that a more profound change in the relationship between sovereign and Parliament emerged as a result of the financial settlement that Parliament negotiated with William and Mary. "Rise of Parliament". The National Archives. Retrieved 22 August 2010.
  24. ^ The earliest, and perhaps greatest, victory for liberalism was achieved in England. The rising commercial class that had supported the Tudor monarchy in the 16th century led the revolutionary battle in the 17th, and succeeded in establishing the supremacy of Parliament and, eventually, of the House of Commons. What emerged as the distinctive feature of modern constitutionalism was not the insistence on the idea that the king is subject to law (although this concept is an essential attribute of all constitutionalism). This notion was already well established in the Middle Ages. What was distinctive was the establishment of effective means of political control whereby the rule of law might be enforced. Modern constitutionalism was born with the political requirement that representative government depended upon the consent of citizen subjects. ... However, as can be seen through provisions in the 1689 Bill of Rights, the English Revolution was fought not just to protect the rights of property (in the narrow sense) but to establish those liberties which liberals believed essential to human dignity and moral worth. The "rights of man" enumerated in the English Bill of Rights gradually were proclaimed beyond the boundaries of England, notably in the American Declaration of Independence of 1776 and in the French Declaration of the Rights of Man in 1789. "Constitutionalism: America & Beyond". Bureau of International Information Programs. U.S. Department of State. Archived from the original on 24 October 2014. Retrieved 30 October 2014.
  25. ^ Walker 2009, p. 2: "thereby establishing a constitutional monarchy".
  26. ^ Billias 2011, p. 54.
  27. ^ Maier 1997, pp. 126–28.
  28. ^ a b All the main principles of the Bill of Rights are still in force today, and the Bill of Rights continues to be cited in legal cases in the UK and in Commonwealth countries. It has a primary place in a wider national historical narrative of documents which established the rights of Parliament and set out universal civil liberties, starting with Magna Carta in 1215. It also has international significance, as it was a model for the US Bill of Rights 1789, and its influence can be seen in other documents which establish rights of human beings, such as the Declaration of the Rights of Man, the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights. "2011 UK Memory of the World Register". United Kingdom National Commission for UNESCO. 23 May 2011. Retrieved 4 June 2011.
  29. ^ "Facts About the Bill of Rights on Its 220th Anniversary". 15 December 2011. Archived from the original on 4 October 2013. Retrieved 29 September 2012.
  30. ^ a b c d Lock 1989, pp. 540–561.
  31. ^ Toporoski, Richard (Summer 1996). "Monarchy Canada: The Invisible Crown". Archived from the original on 17 June 1997.
  32. ^ "A Guide to the UK Legal System". Hauser Global Law School Program. New York University School of Law. November 2005. Retrieved 16 March 2016.
  33. ^ "The Legal System of the United Kingdom". The Chartered Institute of Legal Executives. Archived from the original on 13 March 2016. Retrieved 16 March 2016.
  34. ^ Alexander Horne; Oonagh Gay (21 May 2014). "Ending the Hamilton Affair?". UK Constitutional Law Association Blog. Retrieved 19 March 2015.
  35. ^ This subordination of the Crown (i.e. the executive government) to law is the foundation of the rule of law in the United Kingdom. It has its roots well before the war between the Crown and Parliament in the seventeenth century but was decisively confirmed in the settlement arrived at with the Glorious Revolution in 1688 and has been recognised ever since,
    Sir Edward Coke reports the considered view of himself and the senior judges of the time in The Case of Proclamations (1610) 12 Co. Rep. 74, that:

    the King by his proclamation or other ways cannot change any part of the common law, or statute law, or the customs of the realm"

    and that:

    the King hath no prerogative, but that which the law of the land allows him."

    The position was confirmed in the first two parts of Section 1 of the Bill of Rights 1688:

    Suspending power – That the pretended power of suspending of laws or the execution of laws by regall authority without consent of Parlyament is illegall.

    Late dispensing power – That the pretended power of dispensing with laws or the execution of laws by regall authoritie as it hath beene assumed and exercised of late is illegall."
    "Miller & Anor, R (On the Application Of) v The Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union [2016] EWHC 2768 (Admin)". England and Wales High Court (Administrative Court) Decisions. 3 November 2016. Retrieved 4 November 2016.
  36. ^ "Brexit court ruling: Your questions answered". BBC. Retrieved 4 November 2016.
  37. ^ "The Constitutional Setting". States Services Commission, New Zealand. Archived from the original on 16 October 2008.
  38. ^ "The legitimacy of judicial review of executive decision-making". New Zealand Law Society. Archived from the original on 4 February 2010.
  39. ^ "Statute Law Revision Act 2007 Section 2". Irish Statute Book.
  40. ^ "Statute Law Revision Act 2007 Schedule 1". Irish Statute Book.
  41. ^ "Two Pound Coin". The Royal Mint. Retrieved 15 February 2015.
  42. ^ "Life, death and everything in between". UK Parliament. 23 May 2011. Retrieved 4 June 2011.
  43. ^ "Magna Carta & Parliament Exhibition". UK Parliament. Retrieved 15 February 2015.
  44. ^ "Magna Carta: Law, Liberty, Legacy". The British Library. Retrieved 24 January 2015.


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