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And this by the antient statutes of the realm' he is bound to do every year, or oftener, if need be. Not that he is, or ever was, obliged by these statutes to call a new parliament every year; but only to permit a parliament to sit annually for the redress of grievances, and dispatch of business, if need be. These last words are so loose and vague, that such of our monarchs as were inclined to govern without parliaments, neglected the convoking them, sometimes for a very considerable period, under pretence that there was no need of them. But, to remedy this, by the statute 16 Car. II. c. I. it is enacted, that the sitting and holding of parliaments shall not be intermitted above three years at the most. And by the statute 1 W. & M. st. 2. c. 2. it is declared to be one of the rights of the people, that for redress of all grievances, and for the amending, strengthening, and preserving the laws, parliaments ought to be held frequently. And this indefinite frequency is again reduced to a certainty by statute 6 W. & M. c. 2. which enacts, as the statute of Charles the second had done before, that a new parliament shall be called within three years m after the determination of the former.
II. The constituent parts of a parliament are the next objects of our inquiry. And these are, the king's majesty, fitting there in his royal political capacity, and the three estates of the realm; the lords spiritual, the lords temporal, (who sit, together with the king, in one house) and the commons, who sit by themselves in another. And the king and these three estates, together, form the great corporation or body politic of the kingdom “, of which the king is said to be caput, principium, et finis. For upon their coming together the king meets them, either in person or by representation; without which there can be no beginning of a parliamento: and he also hạs alone the power of diffolving them.
14 Edw. III. c. 14. 36 Edw. III. assemblies. Mod. Un. Hist. xxxiii.
15. m This is the same period, that 04 Inst. 1, 2. Stat. I Eliz, c. 3. is allowed in Sweden for intermit Hale of Parl. I. ting their general diets, or parliamentary 4 Inst. 6,
It is highly necessary for preserving the ballance of the constitution, that the executive power should be a branch, though not the whole, of the legislative. The total union of them, we have seen, would be productive of tyranny; the total disjunction of them, for the present, would in the end produce the fame effects, by causing that union against which it seems to provide. The legislature would soon become tyrannical, by making continual encroachments, and gradually assuming to itself the rights of the executive power. Thus the long parliament of Charles the first, while it acted in a constitutional manner, with the royal concurrence, redressed many heavy grievances and established many falutary laws. But when the two houses assumed the power of legislation, in exclusion of the royal authority, they foon after assumed likewise the reins of administration; and, in consequence of these united powers, overturned both church and state, and established a worse oppression than any they pretended to remedy. To hinder therefore any such encroachments, the king is himself a part of the parliament: and, as this is the reason of his being so, very properly therefore the share of legislation, which the constitution has placed in the crown, consists in the power of rejecting rather than resolving ; this being fufficient to answer the end proposed. For we may apply to the royal negative, in this instance, what Çicero obferves of the negative of the Roman tribunes, that the crown has not any power of doing wrong, but merely of preventing wrong from being donel. The crown cannot begin of itself any alterations in the present established law; but it may approve or disapprove of the alterations suggested and consented to by the two houses. The legislative therefore cannot abridge the executive power of any rights which it now has by law, without it's own consent; since the law must perpetually stand as it now does, unless all the powers will agree to alter it. And herein indeed consists the true excellence of the English government, that all the parts of it form a mutual
p Sulla-tribunis plebis fua lege injuriae faciendae poteftatem ademit, auxilii ferendi reliquit. De LL. 3.9.
check check upon each other. In the legislature, the people are a check upon the nobility, and the nobility a check upon the people; by the mutual privilege of rejecting what the other has resolved: while the king is a check upon both, which preserves the executive power from encroachments. And this very executive power is again checked and kept within due bounds by the two houses, through the privilege they have of inquiring into, impeaching, and punishing the conduct (not indeed of the king, which would destroy his constitutional independence; but, which is more beneficial to the public) of his evil and pernicious counsellors. Thus every branch of our civil polity supports and is supported, regulates and is regulated, by the rest: for the two houses naturally drawing in two directions of opposite interest, and the prerogative in another still different from them both, they mutually keep each other from exceeding their proper limits; while the whole is prevented from feparation, and artificially connected together by the mixed nature of the crown, which is a part of the legislative, and the sole executive magistrate. Like three distinct powers in mechanics, they jointly impel the machine of government in a direction different from what either, acting by itself, would have done; but at the same time in a direction partaking of each, and formed out of all; a direction which constitutes the true line of the liberty and happiness of the community.
Let us now consider these constituent parts of the fovereign power, or parliament, each in a separate view. The king's majesty will be the subject of the next, and many subsequent chapters, to which we must at present refer.
The next in order are the spiritual lords. These consist of two arch-bishops, and twenty-four bishops; and at the diffolution of monasteries by Henry VIII, consisted likewise of twenty-fix mitred abbots, and two priors?: a very considerable body, and in those times equal in number to the temporal nobility'. All these hold, or are supposed to hold, cer. 9 Stat. 12 Car. II. c. 30.
s Co. Litt. 97. Seld, tit. bon, 2. 5. 27.
- tain antient baronies under the king : for William the con
queror thought proper to change the spiritual tenure of frankalmoign or free alms, under which the bishops held their lands during the Saxon government, into the feodal or Norman tenure by barony; which subjected their estates to all civil charges and assessinents, from which they were before exempts: and, in right of succession to those baronies, which were unalienable from their respective dignities, the bishops and abbots were allowed their seats in the house of lords. But though these lords spiritual are in the eye of the law a distinct eftate from the lords temporal, and are so distinguished in most of our acts of parliament, yet in practice they are usually blended together under the one name of the lords; they intermix in their votes; and the majority of such intermixture joins both estates. And from this want of a separate assembly and separate negative of the prelates, fome writers have argued » very cogently, that the lords spiritual and temporal are now in reality only one estate : which is unquestionably true in every effectual fense, though the antient distinction between them still nominally continues. For if a bill should pass their house, there is no doubt of it's validity, though every lord spiritual should vote against it; of which Selden", and fir Edward Coke y, give many instances : as, on the other hand, I presume it would be equally good, if the lords temporal present were inferior to the bishops in number, and every one of those temporal lords gave his vote to reject the bill; though fir Edward Coke seems to doubt? whether this would not be an ordinance, rather than an act, of parliament.
& Gilb. Hift. Exch. 55. Spelm.W.1. y 2 Inft. 585, 6, 7. See Keilw. 291.
184; where it is holden by the judges, i Glanv. 7. 1. Co. Litt. 97. Seld. 7 Hen. VIII. that the king may hold tit. hon. 2. 5. 19.
a parliament without any spiritual u Whitelocke on Parliam. c. 72. lords. This was also exemplified in Warburt. Alliance. b. 2. c. 3.
fact in the two first parliaments of * Dyer. 60.
Charles II; wherein no bishops were x Baronage. p. 1.c.6. The act of summoned, till after the repeal of the uniformity, 1 Eliz, c. 2. was passed with statute 16 Car. I. c. 27. by statuts 13 the diffent of all the bishops; (Gibr. Car. II. st. 1. c. 2. codex.286.) and therefore the stile of lords 1 4 Init. 25. spiritualis omitted throughout the whole.
The lords temporal consist of all the peers of the realm (the bishops not being in strictness held to be such, but merely lords of parliament a) by whatever title of nobility distinguished ; dukes, marquisses, earls, viscounts, or barons; of which dignities we shall speak more hereafter. Some of these sit by descent, as do ail antient peers; some by creation, as do all new-made ones; others, fince the union with Scotland, by election, which is the case of the fixteen peers, who represent the body of the Scots nobility. Their rumber is indefinite, and may be encreased at will by the power of the crown: and once, in the reign of queen Anne, there was an instance of creating no less than twelve together ; in contemplation of which in the reign of king George the first, a bill passed the house of lords, and was countenanced by the then ministry, for limiting the number of the peerage. This was thought by some to promise a great acquisition to the constitution, by restraining the prerogative from gaining the ascendant in that august assembly, by pouring in at pleasure an unlimited number of new created lords. But the bill was ill-relished and miscarried in the house of commons, whose leading members were then desirous to keep the avenues to the other house as open and easy as possible.
The distinction of rank and honours is necessary in every well-governed state: in order to reward such as are eminent for their services to the public, in a manner the most desirable to individuals, and yet without burden to the community; exciting thereby an ambitious yet laudable ardor, and generous emulation, in others. And emulation, or virtuous ambition, is a spring of action which, however dangerous or invidious in a mere republic or under a despotic lway, will certainly be attended with good effects under a free monarchy; where, without destroying it's existence, it's exceffes may be continually restrained by that superior power, from which all honour is derived. Such a spirit, when nationally diffused, gives life and vigour to the community; it sets all the wheels of government in motion, * Staunford, P. C. 153