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In the year 1628, 3 Car. I. in a debate between the two houses of parliament upon the petition of right, Serjeant Glanville was deputed in a committee of both houses of parliament in the painted chamber, to deliver the sense of the house of commons, in which speech, he says, “I most humbly beseech your lordships to weigh the reasons, which I shall present, not as the sense of my
self, the weakest member of our house, but · as the genuine and true sense of the whole
house of commons, conceived in a business debated there with the greatest gravity and folemnity, with the greatest concurrence of opinions and unanimity, that ever was in any business maturely agitated in that house." And then coming to speak of the point in
question, he delivered the sense of the comThis preroga- mons in these words: “ There is a trust in
feparably reposed in the persons of the kings of England, but that trust is regulated by law; for example, when statutes are made to prohibit things not mala in se, but only mala quia prohibita, under certain forfeitures and penalties to accrue to the king, and to the informers, that shall sue for the breach of them; the commons must, and ever will ac
We acknowjedred by the house of commons to Cil.
* Rushworth's Collections, Parti p: 571.
tive was athird
erefore bei Ihnen in the conftitu.
tion at the revolution,
knowledge a regal and fovereign prerogative in the king touching such statutes; that it is in his majesty's absolute and undoubted power to grant dispensations to particular persons, with the clauses of non obstante, to do as they might have done before those statutes, wherein his majesty conferring grace and favour upon some, doth no wrong to others.” As it was the prevailing fashion at the This abridg
ment of the time of the revolution, not to allow that the
royal preroga. dispensing power ever had been a preroga- alteration male tive of the crown, therefore have I before said, in compliance with that fashion, and in vol conformity with the stile of the bill of rights, that the only alterations introduced into the constitution at that time, were in the succession and tenure of the crown. But I must now beg leave to observe, that I reckon this abridgment of the prerogative royal, as a third alteration. Tho' as to the main effect, it is perfectly immaterial, since the power can now be no more exercised by the king, whether he be prevented from it by the abridgment or deprivation of an old prerogative, or by a declaration, that he never was legally entitled unto it.
I have said thus much of the existence Our security in and extinction of the dispensing power, to con- equipoise of the vince my readers, that such is the vigilance А аз
in the Crown. of every branch of the legislature upon each other, that we may rest secure in their political equipoise, that none of them will outgrow or absorb the other. If in the variety and change of political occurrences it shall be found requisite either to abridge or enlarge the prerogative of the sovereign, it behoves us to confide in the readiness and zeal of our deputies and trustees to effect it. Let no body look upon our present sovereign, as less qualified and enabled to fulfil the executive functions of government, than his ancestors, whose prerogatives were in fome points more extensive and numerous than his. What has been pruned off from the precarious branches of prerogative has been engrafted upon the double bearing stock of royal influence.
*“ From the revolution in 1688 to the present time ; in this period many laws have passed; as the bill of rights, the tolerationact, the act of settlement with its conditions, the act for uniting England with Scotland, and some others; which have asserted our liberties in more clear and emphatical terms; have regulated the succession of the crown by parliment, as the exigences of religious and civil freedom required; have confirmed, and ex
The effets of royal inficence,
• Blak. Com. b. iv. c. 33. fub. fin.
emplified the doctrine of resistance, when the executive magistrate endeavours to subvert the constitution; have maintained the superiority of the laws above the king, by pronouncing his dispensing power to be illegal; have indulged tender consciences with every religious liberty consistent with the fafety of the state; have established triennial, since turned into feptennial elections of members to ferve in parliament; have excluded certain officers from the house of commons; have restrained the king's pardon from obstructing parliamentary impeachments; have imparted to all the lords an equal right of trying their fellow peers; have regulated trials for high treason; have afforded our pofterity a hope, that corruption of blood may one day be abolished and forgotten; have (by the desire of his present majesty) set bounds to the civil list, and placed the administration of that revenue in hands, that are accountable to parliament; and have (by the like desire) made the judges completely independent of the king, his ministers, and his successors. Yet, though these provisions have in appearance and nominally reduced the strength of the executive power to a much lower ebb than in the preceding period ; if on the other hand we throw into the opposite scale (what A a 4
perhaps the immoderate reduction of the antient prerogative may have rendered in some degree necessary) the vast acquisition of force arising from the riot-act, and the annual expence of a standing army, and the vaft acquisition of personal attachment arifing from the magnitude of the national debt, and the manner of levying these yearly millions, that are appropriated to pay the interest, we shall find, that the crown has gradually and imperceptibly gained almost as much infuence, as it has apparently lost in prerogative.”