Declaration of Rights
William of Orange
Prince William of Orange was asked by the now out of work politicians if he would like the Crown, as his wife Mary was next in line to the throne. William and Mary would rule as joint rulers because Mary said she would not be over her husband and William said he would not be a servant of his wife.
William landed at Torbay with an army much smaller than that commanded by King James II. When James II saw his army deserting in droves, he sent his wife and son to France and followed them a short time later.
William was asked to take on the administration of the country. However, William despised the English, and replaced a number of our senior military and civil servants with Dutchmen. The politicians (thinking they had just got rid of one bad King and it looked like they were about to get another) went and spoke to the Alderman and fifty of the Common Council of the City of London. William heard about this and issued instructions for writs to be sent to every Borough in England. The Boroughs were to send
representatives to Westminster to tell the politicians and William how we, the English, wished to be ruled.
The representatives came to Westminster and met with the Lords, the politicians, the Aldermen and Common Council of the City of London at a convention. It was not a parliament because only a King or Queen can call a parliament. King James II was in France and had no desire to call a parliament. After much discussion they produced the Declaration of Rights, which was a restatement of Alfred’s Law. The Declaration was shown to William and Mary, who were told by the representatives of the people that if they wanted the Crown they had to accept the terms of the Declaration of Rights (these were the minimum rights and freedoms the people would accept.) William and Mary accepted the crown under these terms.
Figure 12: The Crown being offered to William and Mary.
Now he was King, William called a parliament. William did not have an election but instead said the people’s representatives would be his Parliament. The first thing Parliament did was to pass the Declaration of Rights into law as the Bill of Rights 1689. Two codicils were added to the
Bill, first any amendments after the 23 September 1689 were void and not lawful, and second, this Bill is for all time.
The Bill of Rights 1689
Now it is a convention that no parliament can bind another. So how could this Parliament bind every successive parliaments for ever? The answer is simple. This Parliament was made up of the people’s representatives. The will of the people is supreme over both Parliament and the Sovereign. Until such time as the representatives of the people meet and change the 1689 Bill of Rights, this Bill remains the law.
In his Commentaries on the Laws of England, Chief Justice Blackstone in 1765 said that he was writing about the laws of Alfred. This makes it clear that Alfred’s Laws were still in place during the life of Chief Justice Blackstone.
Since the time of King Alfred, our law has developed for over a thousand years. It was developed by our
forefathers because from time to time bad (or frankly useless) Kings have needed to have their ways corrected. Kings who would not listen were removed. As mentioned above:
Edward II was such a King and was removed in favour of his son. He was subsequently killed with a red hot poker up his back passage.
Charles I had his head removed for treason against the people, as did his Lord Strafford.
James II was forced to flee to France.
Each and every time a King has been removed or had his ways changed, the reason has been because he has tried to rule outside the law - Alfred’s Laws of England.
Treason and Sedition
We have dealt with English Constitutional law as it is written. The law does indeed give us protection from despotic government. Our forefathers, however, did not just trust the law. They built into our system of government extra safeguards, specifically in the way Parliament itself is required to work.
Parliament consists of three parts; the Commons, the Lords, and the Sovereign. Individually none of these parts can make or repeal law. Our forefathers foresaw that if any one part was able to claim supremacy in the system, we would suffer from oppressive government.
Parliament works by the Commons originating legislation, which is then passed to the Lords for scrutiny. It is the function of the Lords to refuse the legislation if they believe it to be oppressive, or in any other way not good legislation. If the Lords approve the legislation, it then goes before the Sovereign who may refuse the Royal Assent if they believe the legislation is not in the best interests of their subjects.
Finance Bill 1910 & the Parliament Act 1911
Such a situation occurred in 1910. The Asquith government attempted to put through a Finance Bill. The Lords rejected the bill because it imposed too high a tax burden on its subjects. Asquith went to the Lords and told them he was putting forward a Bill which would limit their authority to reject bills. If they did not pass this Bill, he proposed to put 500 new Peers into the Lords and they would vote for the closure of the Lords. The Lords gave their consent to the Parliament Act 1911 under duress.
The Bill was presented to King Edward VII who refused the Royal Assent on the grounds that it removed a protection given to English Subjects by the Constitution. King Edward told Asquith he would have to ask the Country.
Shortly after this King Edward VII died and King George V came to the throne. He was told by a government minister that as King he kept all his prerogatives. However, he could not use any of the Royal Prerogatives without the backing of a government minister.
This ministerial advice has no basis in our Constitution and amounts to a clear act of Treason. Furthermore, since it imagines the death of the King as a Sovereign King it is an act of High Treason under the terms of the Treason Act 1351.
Meanwhile, Asquith went around the country telling everyone about the Lords refusal to consent to the Bill. He told the public this Bill would give them a pension but failed to mention the tax burden it would impose upon them.
In one fell swoop, Asquith had neutered the power of the Lords to protect the subject from bad law, and removed the right of the sovereigns to refuse the Royal Assent to parliamentary bills. Asquith was a Fabian. Arguably, the undeclared policy of the Fabians was the destruction of the Constitution and our way of life. Consequently, Asquith’s actions amounted to a clear act of sedition, which at this level amounts to High Treason.
Subsequent Acts have continued to restrict the authority of the House of Lords. Finally, the plan to remove all but ninety two hereditary Peers was passed by Parliament in 1998. Currently, the Government plans to remove all hereditary Peers from the House of Lords.
Constitutionally, a Peer can only be removed by a Bill after committing a serious crime. A separate Bill is required for each peer before he can be removed. It is unconstitutional (and therefore illegal) to remove every hereditary peer in a general Bill. Baroness Ashton said in the House of Lords that a general Bill cannot be used to remove the hereditary peers.
Why do we want the hereditary peerage? Well on the whole they were honest and honourable. They had large estates, money and were most unlikely to take a bribe, they were also very protective of the family reputation. The Hereitary Peerage are the traditional advisors to the Sovereign.
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