Page images


and in a commoner for forty days after

every prorogation, and forty days before the next appointed meeting; which is now in effect as long, as the parliament subfifts, it seldom be

ing prorogued for more, than four score days By Itatutes at a time. As to all other privileges, which some privileges ccafe after difto- obstruct the ordinary course of justice, they Jution and pro

cease by the statutes, 12 W. III. c. 3. and u Geo. II. c. 24. immediately after the difsolution or prorogation of the parliament, or adjournment of the houses for above a fortnight; and during these receses a peer, or member of the house of commons may be sued like an ordinary subject, and in confe

quence of such suits may be dispoffeffed of Other ahrids- his lands and goods. In these cases the king

has also his prerogative: he may sue for his parliament.

debts, though not arrest the person of a member, during the sitting of parliament; and by statute 2 & 3 Ann. c. 18. a member may be sued during the sitting of parliament for

any misdemeanor, or breach of trust in a public office. Likewise for the benefit of commerce, it is provided by statute


Geo. III. c. 33. that any trader, having privilege of parliament, may be served with legal process for any just debt, to the amount of £.100, and unless he make satisfaction within two months, it shall be deemed an act of bank

ruptcy i

ments of the privileges of

ruptcy; and that commissions of bankrupt may be issued against such privileged traders in like manner, as against any other.

“ The only way, by which courts of juftice could antiently take cognizance of privilege of parliament was by writ of privilege, in the nature of a supersedeas, to deliver the party out of custody, when arrested in a civil fuit. For when a letter was written by the How process to

be had against speaker to the judges, to stay proceedings members of against a privileged person, they rejected it, civil cascs. as contrary to their oath of office. But since the statute 12 W. III. c. 3. which enacts, that no privileged person shall be subject to arrest or imprisonment, it hath been held, that such arrest is irregular ab initio, and that the party may be discharged upon motion. It is to be observed, that there is no precedent of any such writ of privilege, but only in civil suits; and that the statute of 1 Jac. I. e. 13. and that of king William, (which remedy some inconveniences arising from privilege of parliament) speak only of civil actions. And therefore the claim of privilege hath been usually guarded with an exception, as to the case of indictable crimes; or, as it How in crimi. hath been frequently expressed, of treason, felony, and breach (or surety) of the peace. Whereby it seems to be understood, that 10


Dal cases.

lers not now

privilege was allowable to the members, their families, or servants in any crime whatsoever ; for all crimes are treated by the law as being contra pacem domini regis. And instances have not been wanting, wherein privileged persons have been convicted of misdemeanors, and committed, or prosecuted to outlawry, even in the middle of a session; which proceeding

has afterwards received the fanction and apSeditious litel. probation of parliament. To which may

be privileged. added, that a few years ago, the case of

writing and publishing seditious libels was resolved by both houses not to be intitled to privilege ; and that the reasons, upon which that case proceeded, extended equally to every indictable offence. So that the chief, if not the only, privilege of parliament in such cases, seems to be the right of receiving immediate information of the imprisonment or detention of any member with the reason, for which he is detained; a practice, that is daily used upon the Nightest military accusations, preparatory to a trial by a court martial; and which is recognized by the several tempo

rary statutes for suspending the habeas corpus Communica act, whereby it is provided, that no member to the house of of either house shall be detained, till the mat

ter, of which he stands fuspected, be first communicated to the house, of which he is a


tion to be made

the detention of its member.

member, and the consent of the said house obtained for his commitment or detaining. But yet the usage has uniforınly been ever since the revolution, that the communication has been subsequent to the arrest.”

When an act of parliament is once completed, it is *“ the exercise of the highest authority, that this kingdom acknowledges upon earth. It hath power to bind every Sovereignty of

parliament. subject in the land, and the dominions thereunto belonging t; nay, even the king himfelf, if particularly named therein. And it cannot be altered, amended, dispensed with, suspended, or repealed, but in the same forms, and by the same authority of parliament: for it is a maxim in law, that it requires the same strength to dissolve, as to create an obliga.


vileges af pare

Every natural born subject, as a member Our interest to of this community, has a personal interest in night and prithe enjoyment and preservation of the before liamento mentioned rights, liberties, and prerogatives, by his representatives in parliament ; for the maintenance and preservation of them will alone maintain and preserve sacred and in

• Blak. ubi fupra, p. 18;.

+ Since this was written by Judge Blakistone, by the 23 Geo. III. c. 28. a separate and independent legiilature has been allowed to the kingdom of Ireland. ဌ


violate, the rights and liberties of all Britons, which are common both to the representatives and represented.

I have already endeavoured to thew the general rights, which every man is entitled to, by becoming a member of civil society ; thofe, to which he is entitled as a member of this community, may be called, * “ in a

peculiar and emphatical manner, the rights General rights of the people of England. And these may of the people of England. be reduced to three principal or primary ar

ticles; the right of personal security, the right of personal liberty, and the right of private property ; because as there is no other known method of compulfion, or of abridging man's natural free will, but by an infringement or diminution of one or other of these important rights, the preservation of these inviolate may justly be said to include the preservation of our civil immunities, in

their largest and most extensive sense. The right of “ I. The right of personal security, conpersonal secu.

Gifts in a person's legal and uninterrupted enjoyment of inis life, his limbs, his body, his

health, and his reputation. of personal li + II. Next to personal property, the berty.

law of England regards, asferts, and preserves

• Blak. Com. b.i. c. i. p. 129.
+ Blak, ibidem.



« PreviousContinue »