Public Law - Constitutional Conventions II - Important constitutional conventions

  • Created by: Alasdair
  • Created on: 12-11-20 23:24
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  • Constitutional Conventions II - Important constitutional conventions
    • Monarch plays no active role in matters o government, and legal powers which are vested in monarch are exercised on her behalf by elected government of day
    • Monarch acting on advice of PM, will not refuse Royal Assent to a bill which has been passed by House of Commons and House of Lords
      • If advised by PM to assent to a bill, monarch will always do so
        • last time monarch refused Royal Assent was in 1707
    • Monarch will appoint as PM person who is best able to command confidence of House of Commons.
    • All government Ministers will be members either of House of Commons or House Lords and PM (and other senior gov Ministers) should be a member of democratically-elected Commons, rather than unelected Lords.
      • Now rare for peer (other than Leader of House of Lords) to sit in Cabinet.
    • Monarch will appoint and dismiss government  Ministers on advice of PM
    • Individual Ministerial responsibility
      • Government Ministers are responsible to Parliament both for running and proper conduct
      • No conflict of interest between Minister's public duties and their private interests
        • Minister who breaches this convention should resign.
          • E.g. in 1982, Foreign Secretary,  Lord Carrington, resigned following criticism of administrative failings of his department not to foresee Argentine invasion of Falklands.
      • Ministerial resignations owing to departmental failures comparatively rare.
      • Resignations relating to Minister's personal conduct more frequent
        • e.g. in 2017, Priti Patel resigned as International Development Secretary after unauthorised meetings with Israeli officials
    • Collective Cabinet (or Ministerial) Responsibility
      • Cabinet is collectively responsible to Parliament for actions of Government as whole and Government must retain confidence on House of Commons.
        • A Government which is defeated on vote of 'confidence' in Commons must resign
          • e.g. Labour Government in 1979.
      • Cabinet must be united in public in support of Government policy and so Cabinet Minister must resign if he is she wishes to speak out against such policy
        • e.g. Robin Cook in 2003 to voice opposition to Iraq war
        • e.g. Phillip Hammond in 2019 at incoming PM's willingness to leave EU without deal
        • Also applies to Ministers who aren't members of cabinet
          • e.g. Baroness Warsi resigned as senior Foreign Office Minister in 2014 in protest against Government policy in Gaza
      • Cabinet discussions must remain secret
    • Salisbury Convention
      • Unelected House of Lords will not reject legislation that gives effect to an important manifesto commitment of democratically elected Government
    • Sewel Convention
      • UK Parliament will only legislate on matter which has been devolved to Scottish Parliament if Scottish Parliament has given its consent.
      • Convention was inserted in s 28 of Scotland Act 1998 by Scotland Act 2016
    • Members of judiciary do not play active part in political life
    • Ministers and Members  of Parliament do not criticise in public individual members of judiciary


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