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was enacted by the Statutes 7 & 8 Wm. III. ch. 15, and 6 Anne, ch. 7, that the Parliament in being shall continue for six months after the death of any Monarch, unless sooner prorogued or dissolved by the successor ; that if the Parliament be, at the time of the King's death, separated by adjournment or prorogation, it shall, notwithstanding, assemble immediately; and that if no Parliament is then in being, the Members of the last Parliament shall assemble and be again a Parliament (2).
When it is the King's pleasure to prorogue or dissolve the Parliament, His Majesty generally comes in person to the House of Lords; when he sends the Usher of the Black Rod for the House of Commons to come to the Bar of the Lords' House : the Chancellor then, by special command of the King, pronounces the Parliament to be prorogued or dissolved. 3d. & lastly. A Parliament may be dissolved, or expire, By
Template Post expiration of by efflux of time.* The utmost extent of time that the the term of sersame Parliament was allowed to sit, by the Statute 6 Wm. & Mary, ch. 2, was three years. But, by the Statute 1 Geo. I. stat. 2. ch. 38 (in order, professedly, to prevent the great and continued expenses of frequent elections, and the violent heats and animosities consequent thereupon, and for the peace and security of the Government, then just recovering from the Rebellion) this term was prolonged to seven years : and, what alone is an instance of the vast authority of Parliament, the very same House that was chosen for three years, enacted its own continuance for seven. So that, as our Constitution now stands, the Parliament must expire, or die a natural death, at the end of every seventh year, if not sooner dissolved by the Royal authority; as it generally is, in the course of every five or six years.
y expiration of
(1) Amended by the 37 Geo. III. ch. 127. * The Parliaments of Canada are limited to four years duration by the Constitutional Act.
ings not affected
The Septennial Act has been deemed an unconstitutional exertion of the authority of Parliament; and the reason alleged is, that those who had a power delegated to them for three years only, could have no right to extend that term to seven years. But on this it has been observed, that it is not true in fact, as the argument is usually put, that a Parliament chosen for three years continued them. selves for seven, since it was only one part of the Parliament, the House of Commons, which was chosen for any limited time; and the Septennial Act was the act of the
whole legislature. What proceed. By a dissolution or prorogation of Parliament, Impeachby a dissolution, ments by the Commons, Appeals, or Writs pending in or prorogation. Parliament.. do not abate, but the next Parliament can
take them up, and proceed upon them in the state in which they were left at such dissolution or prorogation.
In ancient days, Parliaments were required by law to meet every year, “and oftener, if need be” (y), and dur. ing the dynasty of the Plantagenets, they were almost invariably summoned anew, and did not continue, as afterwards, through several Sessions (z). But during the reigns of the monarchs of the Tudor and Stuart lines, more particularly in that of Charles I., intervals of many years were suffered to elapse without “the King's Great Council of Parliament" being ever convened. In contemplation of which, a Statute was passed in the reign of Charles II. (16 Car. II. ch. 1.), prohibiting the intermission of Parliament for more than three years at any one time, the provisions of which were re-enacted by the 6 Wm. &
Mary, ch. 2. But these Statutes are now virtually obsoParliament must lete, Parliaments being obliged to assemble annually, else
the whole machinery of Government would become useless and inefficient. For the Commons, with a vigilant
be summoned annually.
(y) 4 Edw. III. ch. 14; 36 Edw. III. ch. 10.
eye to the interests of the people, at the time of the Revolution in 1688, caused the following to be established by the Bill of Rights as one of the principles of the British Constitution : “ that it is unlawful to keep any forces in “ time of peace without the consent of Parliament,” which consent is given only year by year,—the Mutiny Bill, by which the Army is held together, and kept in discipline and subjection, being invariably an annual act.
Added to this the supplies are granted by the Commons annually; and it is now, therefore, rendered impossible that a Parliament can be prorogued for a longer period than twelve months without its own consent and authority for the same.*
* The same annual meeting of Parliament is required in Canada by the Constitutional Act (31 Geo. III. ch. 31).
C HA P. VII.
On Public Bills.*
A Bill is a rough draft or skeleton of an Act of Parliament, drawn out upon paper, with blanks or void spaces
in which are afterwards inserted, dates, penalties, and any What a Bill is. other alterations or amendments which may be found
requisite during its progress through the Legislature.
Formerly, all Bills were drawn up in the form of Petitions, which were entered upon the Rolls of Parliament with the King's answer or assent subjoined not in any settled form of words, but as circumstances required, and at the end of each Parliament the Judges drew them out in the form of statutes, which were entered upon the statute Rolls, and Proclamation made of them at the County Courts, that all men might take heed thereto and govern themselves accordingly. This imperfect mode of legislation left the laws greatly at the mercy of the Crown; accordingly it was discovered that they were sometimes altered, and that others were added of which the Lords and Commons knew nothing until they were promulgated at the county Courts. This was made the subject of a solemn remonstrance to the King, in the reign of Henry V.t when, to prevent further mistakes and abuses of this nature, the statutes were ordered to be drawn up by the Judges, before the close of Parliament; and in the reign of Henry
How made an. ciently.
* In the compilation of this Chapter, I have been much indebted to the very valuable work of Mr. Bramwell, on the manner of proceeding on Bills in the House of Commons.
† By a singular coincidence, this document, so important in completing and. securing the legislative rights of the House of Comnions, is further remarkable as being the first act of that Assembly composed and recorded in the English tongue ¡A. D. 1115).—Mackintosh's Hist. of England, v, 1, p. 292.
VI., Bills, in the form of Acts, according to the modern custom, were first introduced.
It was not till the reign of Henry VII. (a), that the Statutes were all drawn up in the English language : prior to that time, they were either in Latin or Norman French, generally the latter.
Those are deemed Public Bills, which have a public What are Public and general operation-as Bills which concern the whole community, though only in a particular matter; or the King, who is the head of the commonwealth ; or the King's revenue, except where it is to be diminished to the advantage of particular persons; or where a penalty or forfeiture is given to the King; and Bills which concern the Queen, or the Heir Apparent to the Crown; or either House of Parliament; or trade in general, or all Officers in general, or the whole Spirituality (b).
In doubtful cases, where the qualities are of such a Doubtful cases. mixed nature as to render it difficult to distinguish whether they are Public or Private Bills, they should be determined by the particular circumstances of each case, or by the usage of the House in cases of a similar nature.
There is an obvious inconvenience in combining objects of a public and private nature in the same bill; and in some cases where they have been so united, and were Dividing Bills. capable of separation, the House has ordered them to be divided into separate Bills (c).
But where the interests are so combined, &c. that a When of a separation is impossible (d), such bills have generally ori- mix ginated on petition, but have subsequently been treated as Public Bills.
Before entering on the subject of the forms to be ob- In which House served in the passage of bills, it will be necessary briefly ginate. to examine what bills are required to originate in either of
they must ori,
: (a) Dwar. 627. .: : I (6) Bra 11. .
(C) C. J. 4 & 6 Feb 23 & 24 Mar. 1795 ; Brigstock Inclosure. . . (d) C. J. 13 May, 1811, Sullyard's Estate ; 28 June, 1815, for Meux & Co.