|History of England|
The Privy Council of England, also known as His (or Her) Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Council (Latin : concilium familiare, concilium privatum et assiduum ), was a body of advisers to the sovereign of the Kingdom of England. Its members were often senior members of the House of Lords and the House of Commons, together with leading churchmen, judges, diplomats and military leaders.
The Privy Council of England was a powerful institution, advising the Sovereign on the exercise of the royal prerogative and on the granting of royal charters. It issued executive orders known as Orders in Council and also had judicial functions.
During the reigns of the Norman monarchs, the English Crown was advised by a royal court, which consisted of magnates, clergy and officers of the Crown. This body originally concerned itself with advising the Sovereign on legislation, administration and justice.Later, different bodies assuming distinct functions evolved from the court. The courts of law took over the business of dispensing justice, while Parliament became the supreme legislature of the kingdom. Nevertheless, the Council retained the power to hear legal disputes, either in the first instance or on appeal. Furthermore, laws made by the Sovereign on the advice of the Council, rather than on the advice of Parliament, were accepted as valid.
Powerful Sovereigns often used the body to circumvent the courts and Parliament.For example, a committee of the Council — which later became the Court of the Star Chamber — was during the fifteenth century permitted to inflict any punishment except death, without being bound by normal court procedure. During Henry VIII's reign, the Sovereign, on the advice of the Council, was allowed to enact laws by mere proclamation. The legislative pre-eminence of Parliament was not restored until after Henry VIII's death. Though the royal Council retained legislative and judicial responsibilities, it became a primarily administrative body. The Council consisted of forty members in 1553, but the Sovereign relied on a smaller committee, which later evolved into the modern Cabinet.
The Council developed significantly during the reign of Elizabeth I, gaining political experience, so that there were real differences between the Privy Council of the 1560s and that of the 1600s.
By the end of the English Civil War, the monarchy, House of Lords and Privy Council had been abolished. The remaining house of Parliament, the House of Commons, instituted a Council of State to execute laws and to direct administrative policy. The forty-one members of the Council were elected by the Commons; the body was headed by Oliver Cromwell, the de facto military dictator of the nation. In 1653, however, Cromwell became Lord Protector, and the Council was reduced to between thirteen and twenty-one members, all elected by the Commons. In 1657, the Commons granted Cromwell even greater powers, some of which were reminiscent of those enjoyed by monarchs. The Council became known as the Protector's Privy Council; its members were appointed by the Lord Protector, subject to Parliament's approval.
In 1659, shortly before the restoration of the monarchy, the Protector's Council was abolished.Charles II restored the royal Privy Council, but he, like previous Stuart monarchs, chose to rely on a small committee of advisers.
The Acts of Union 1707 united England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain, replacing the Privy Councils of both countries with a single body, the Privy Council of the United Kingdom.
According to the Oxford dictionary the definition of the word "privy" in Privy Council is an obsolete one meaning "Of or pertaining exclusively to a particular person or persons; one's own",insofar as the Council is personal to the Sovereign.
During the reign of Elizabeth I, the Council is recorded under the title "The Queens Majesties Most Honourable Privy-Council".
The Sovereign, when acting on the Council's advice, was known as the "King-in-Council" or "Queen-in-Council". The members of the Council were collectively known as "The Lords of His [or Her] Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Council", or sometimes "The Lords and others of ..."). The chief officer of the body was the Lord President of the Council, one of the Great Officers of State. Another important official was the Clerk, whose signature was appended to all orders made.
Membership was generally for life, although the death of a monarch brought an immediate dissolution of the Council, as all Crown appointments automatically lapsed.
The Privy Council of England was one of the four principal councils of the Sovereign. The other three were the courts of law, the Commune Concilium (Common Council, or Parliament of England) and the Magnum Concilium (Great Council, or the assembly of all the Peers of the Realm). None of these was ever formally abolished, but the Magnum Concilium was not summoned after 1640 and was already considered obsolete then.
The Privy Council of Scotland continued in existence along with the Privy Council of England for more than a hundred years after the Union of the Crowns. In 1708, one year after the Treaty and Acts of Union of 1707, it was abolished by the Parliament of Great Britain and thereafter there was one Privy Council of Great Britain sitting in London.Nevertheless, long after the Act of Union 1800 the Kingdom of Ireland retained the Privy Council of Ireland, which came to an end only in 1922, when Southern Ireland separated from the United Kingdom, to be succeeded by the Privy Council of Northern Ireland.
The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the supreme legislative body of the United Kingdom, the Crown dependencies and the British overseas territories. It alone possesses legislative supremacy and thereby ultimate power over all other political bodies in the UK and the overseas territories. Parliament is bicameral but has three parts, consisting of the sovereign (Crown-in-Parliament), the House of Lords, and the House of Commons. Both houses of Parliament meet in separate chambers at the Palace of Westminster in the City of Westminster, one of the inner boroughs of the capital city, London.
The Privy Council of the United Kingdom is a formal body of advisers to the sovereign of the United Kingdom. Its membership mainly comprises senior politicians who are current or former members of either the House of Commons or the House of Lords.
The monarchy of the United Kingdom, commonly referred to as the British monarchy, is the constitutional form of government by which a hereditary sovereign reigns as the head of state of the United Kingdom, its dependencies and its overseas territories. The current monarch is Queen Elizabeth II, who ascended the throne in 1952.
The United Kingdom has four legal systems, each of which derives from a particular geographical area for a variety of historical reasons: English law, Scots law, Northern Ireland law, and, since 2007, purely Welsh law. However, unlike the other three, Welsh law is not a separate legal system per se, merely the primary and secondary legislation generated by the Senedd, interpreted in accordance with the doctrines of English law and not impacting upon English common law. There is a substantial overlap between these three legal systems and the three legal jurisdictions of the United Kingdom: England and Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. Each legal system defaults to its jurisdiction, each of whose courts further that law through jurisprudence. Choice of which jurisdiction's law to use is possible in private law: for example a company in Edinburgh, Scotland and a company in Belfast, Northern Ireland are free to contract in English law. This is not so in public law, where there are set rules of procedure in each jurisdiction. Overarching these systems is the law of the United Kingdom, also known as United Kingdom law. UK law arises from laws applying to the United Kingdom and/or its citizens as a whole, most obviously constitutional law, but also other areas, for instance tax law.
Whilst the House of Lords of the United Kingdom is the upper chamber of Parliament and has government ministers, it for many centuries had a judicial function. It functioned as a court of first instance for the trials of peers, for impeachments, and as a court of last resort in the United Kingdom and prior, the Kingdom of England.
Royal assent is the method by which a monarch formally approves an act of the legislature, either directly or through an official acting on the monarch's behalf. In some jurisdictions, royal assent is equivalent to promulgation, while in others that is a separate step. Under a modern constitutional monarchy, royal assent is considered little more than a formality. Even in nations such as the United Kingdom, Norway and Liechtenstein which still, in theory, permit their Monarch to withhold assent to laws, the Monarch almost never does so, except in a dire political emergency or on advice of government. While the power to veto by withholding royal assent was once exercised often by European monarchs, such an occurrence has been very rare since the eighteenth century.
The Right Honourable is an honorific style traditionally applied to certain persons and collective bodies in the United Kingdom, the former British Empire and the Commonwealth of Nations. The term is predominantly used today as a style associated with the holding of certain senior public offices in the United Kingdom, Canada, and New Zealand.
The lord chancellor, formally the lord high chancellor of Great Britain, is the highest-ranking among the great officers of state in the United Kingdom, nominally outranking the prime minister. The lord chancellor is appointed by the sovereign on the advice of the prime minister. Prior to their Union into the Kingdom of Great Britain, there were separate lord chancellors for the Kingdom of England and the Kingdom of Scotland; there were lord chancellors of Ireland until 1922.
The Parliament of England was the legislature of the Kingdom of England. The first English Parliament was convened in 1215, with the creation and signing of the Magna Carta, which established the rights of barons to serve as consultants to the king on governmental matters in his Great Council. In 1295, Parliament evolved to include nobles and bishops as well as two representatives from each of the counties and towns in England and, since 1282, Wales. This became the model for the composition of all future Parliaments. Over the course of the next century, the membership of Parliament was divided into the two houses it features today, with the noblemen and bishops encompassing the House of Lords and the knights of the shire and local representatives making up the House of Commons. During Henry IV’s time on the throne, the role of Parliament expanded beyond the determination of taxation policy to include the “redress of grievances,” which essentially enabled English citizens to petition the body to address complaints in their local towns and counties. By this time, citizens were given the power to vote to elect their representatives—the burgesses—to the House of Commons.
In the United Kingdom, the Accession Council is a ceremonial body which assembles in St James's Palace upon the death of a monarch, to make formal proclamation of the accession of the successor to the throne. Under the terms of the Act of Settlement 1701, a new monarch succeeds automatically. The proclamation merely confirms by name the identity of the heir who has succeeded.
Under the law of the United Kingdom, high treason is the crime of disloyalty to the Crown. Offences constituting high treason include plotting the murder of the sovereign; committing adultery with the sovereign's consort, with the sovereign's eldest unmarried daughter, or with the wife of the heir to the throne; levying war against the sovereign and adhering to the sovereign's enemies, giving them aid or comfort; and attempting to undermine the lawfully established line of succession. Several other crimes have historically been categorised as high treason, including counterfeiting money and being a Catholic priest.
The privilege of peerage is the body of special privileges belonging to members of the British peerage. It is distinct from parliamentary privilege, which applies only to those peers serving in the House of Lords and the members of the House of Commons, while Parliament is in session and forty days before and after a parliamentary session.
Succession to the British throne is determined by descent, sex, legitimacy, and religion. Under common law, the Crown is inherited by a sovereign's children or by a childless sovereign's nearest collateral line. The Bill of Rights 1689 and the Act of Settlement 1701 restrict succession to the throne to the legitimate Protestant descendants of Sophia of Hanover who are in "communion with the Church of England". Spouses of Roman Catholics were disqualified from 1689 until the law was amended in 2015. Protestant descendants of those excluded for being Roman Catholics are eligible.
The Regency Acts are Acts of the Parliament of the United Kingdom passed at various times, to provide a regent in the event of the reigning monarch being incapacitated or a minor. Prior to 1937, Regency Acts were passed only when necessary to deal with a specific situation. In 1937, the Regency Act 1937 made general provision for a regent, and established the office of Counsellor of State, several of whom would act on the monarch's behalf when the monarch was temporarily absent from the realm. This Act forms the main law relating to regency in the United Kingdom today.
The Privy Council of Northern Ireland is a formal body of advisors to the sovereign and was a vehicle for the monarch's prerogative powers in Northern Ireland. It was modeled on the Privy Council of Ireland.
The royal prerogative is a body of customary authority, privilege, and immunity attached to the British monarch, recognised in the United Kingdom. The monarch is regarded internally as the absolute authority, or "sole prerogative", and the source of many of the executive powers of the British government.
The Constitution of the United Kingdom or British constitution comprises the written and unwritten arrangements that establish the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland as a political body. Unlike in most countries, no attempt has been made to codify such arrangements into a single document. Thus, it is known as an uncodified constitution. This enables the constitution to be easily changed as no provisions are formally entrenched. However, the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom recognises that there are constitutional principles, including parliamentary sovereignty, the rule of law, democracy and upholding international law.
The House of Commons of England was the lower house of the Parliament of England from its development in the 14th century to the union of England and Scotland in 1707, when it was replaced by the House of Commons of Great Britain. In 1801, with the union of Great Britain and Ireland, that house was in turn replaced by the House of Commons of the United Kingdom.
The Government of the United Kingdom, domestically referred to as Her Majesty's Government, is the central government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The government is led by the prime minister who selects all the other ministers. The country has had a Conservative-led government since 2010, with successive prime ministers being the then leader of the Conservative Party. The prime minister and their most senior ministers belong to the supreme decision-making committee, known as the Cabinet.
The Privy Council of Barbados was a body that advised the monarch. As part of the Queen's Councils they were considered the first to which the law has assigned the Queen.
|volume=has extra text (help)