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Old 27th August 2019, 11:22 AM   #1
BobTheCoward
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5 starting questions about prorogation

This most recent article about labour sent me into a spiral of questions appropriate for its own thread.


https://www.theguardian.com/politics...y-legal-advice

I get that the queen gets to decree prorogue and the prime minister can ask for one. But why does parliament allow the PM to request at will?

How is there a discussion about if this violates parliamentary sovereignty when the PM is a member of parliament? Isn't the fact the PM has the power to request prorogation an aspect of parliamentary sovereignty?

How can the minority request an injunction from court? The fact that the minority would get a judge to override the majority coalition and their leading MP seems anti sovereignty.

Is the PM's accountability to the majority party inadequate to address this?
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Old 27th August 2019, 12:56 PM   #2
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I think you just Bobbed your own thread.
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Old 27th August 2019, 01:09 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Jungle Jim View Post
I think you just Bobbed your own thread.
How so?
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Old 27th August 2019, 02:17 PM   #4
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I have no opinion on this.
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Old 28th August 2019, 01:39 AM   #5
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This is a unique situation, the precedent is that a PM cannot force through legislation by proroguing, it wouldn't be particularly advantageous to do so anyway as if they lost a general election their successor would just reverse the decision. No one anticipated a situation where Parliament would paint itself into a corner and the country could face an irreversible change of this kind simply by waiting out the clock.

As a wider point the British Parliament is the product of an earlier age and a Minister's behaviour is to a large extent self governed. When the rules were made the idea that a gentleman's honour was insufficient to police their behaviour would have been a grave insult. The revolving door we've seen in recent years where ministers take a short break before returning to high office after being dismissed for lying, conflicts of interest, incompetence etc is the result of social change rather than design.
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Old 30th August 2019, 06:12 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by BobTheCoward View Post
How is there a discussion about if this violates parliamentary sovereignty when the PM is a member of parliament?
The PM is not a member of parliament. Parliament is the legislative branch. The PM is head of the executive branch.
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Old 30th August 2019, 06:26 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Ryokan View Post
The PM is not a member of parliament. Parliament is the legislative branch. The PM is head of the executive branch.

In the UK, the PM is an MP.
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Old 30th August 2019, 07:24 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Mojo View Post
In the UK, the PM is an MP.
Got a source on that? Googling gives me nothing, except that it's common practice that the PM is an elected MP.
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Old 30th August 2019, 07:49 AM   #9
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The PM is an MP by convention, but it's only since the early 20th century that this has been the case. Theoretically, anybody who can carry the confidence of the house can be PM - which these days pretty much means the leader of the largest party in parliament.
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Old 30th August 2019, 08:01 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Worm View Post
The PM is an MP by convention, but it's only since the early 20th century that this has been the case. Theoretically, anybody who can carry the confidence of the house can be PM - which these days pretty much means the leader of the largest party in parliament.
Can they PM that is an MP still vote in parliament?
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Old 30th August 2019, 08:36 AM   #11
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Absolutely - they have all the normal responsibilities of an MP. Indeed, one could argue that the Prime Minister, as leader of their party, has more of a responsibility to vote - makes it much harder to whip other MPs if the leader is slacking off.

Of course, they have other responsibilities which require them to be absent for some votes.

The only MPs who generally don't vote are the Speaker, Depute Speakers, and the tellers (who count the votes)

Plus Sinn Fein who don't take up their seats.
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Old 30th August 2019, 08:58 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Worm View Post
The PM is an MP by convention, but it's only since the early 20th century that this has been the case. Theoretically, anybody who can carry the confidence of the house can be PM - which these days pretty much means the leader of the largest party in parliament.

Even before that, the PM was a member of Parliament: the convention since the early 20th century is that they are a member of the Commons, before that they could sit in the House of Lords.
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Old 30th August 2019, 09:06 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Ryokan View Post
Got a source on that? Googling gives me nothing, except that it's common practice that the PM is an elected MP.
'Elected' is the operative word. There is an unelected House of Lords which can no longer provide a PM.

ninja'd by Mojo
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Old 30th August 2019, 09:09 AM   #14
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hmm. maybe need to distinguish between members of Parliament, and Members of Parliament (MP as a title).

Only those in the commons are MPs, while, as you say, there are also those who are part of the wider Parliament, such as Lords etc.
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Old 30th August 2019, 09:30 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Worm View Post
hmm. maybe need to distinguish between members of Parliament, and Members of Parliament (MP as a title).

Only those in the commons are MPs, while, as you say, there are also those who are part of the wider Parliament, such as Lords etc.

The Lords is still part of the legislative branch.
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Old 30th August 2019, 09:47 AM   #16
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Guardian piece is explaining to a UK audience who are more familiar with their system, here's a similar Atlantic piece I thought was good explaining to a more US audience:

https://www.theatlantic.com/internat...agmire/597097/

I live in Canada, a parliamentary democracy (and the Queen is Queen of Canada as with many other commonwealth countries) but unlike the UK, Canada has a written constitution.
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Old 30th August 2019, 09:56 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by Worm View Post
The PM is an MP by convention, but it's only since the early 20th century that this has been the case. Theoretically, anybody who can carry the confidence of the house can be PM - which these days pretty much means the leader of the largest party in parliament.
Iím not sure what current UK practice is, but it may be possible to have a PM that isnít an MP when there is a change in leadership for the ruling party and the new leader isnít currently an MP.
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Old 30th August 2019, 10:03 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by epeeist View Post
Guardian piece is explaining to a UK audience who are more familiar with their system, here's a similar Atlantic piece I thought was good explaining to a more US audience:

https://www.theatlantic.com/internat...agmire/597097/

I live in Canada, a parliamentary democracy (and the Queen is Queen of Canada as with many other commonwealth countries) but unlike the UK, Canada has a written constitution.
Even the US constitution more or less just mimicked English common law of the period. A constitution is more important when you donít have precedent to fall back on or simply want to repatriate that precedent so you are appealing to precedent in what are now completely separate countries.
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Old 30th August 2019, 10:09 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by epeeist View Post
Guardian piece is explaining to a UK audience who are more familiar with their system, here's a similar Atlantic piece I thought was good explaining to a more US audience:

https://www.theatlantic.com/internat...agmire/597097/

I live in Canada, a parliamentary democracy (and the Queen is Queen of Canada as with many other commonwealth countries) but unlike the UK, Canada has a written constitution.
The UKís constitution is written down too, but itís not a single stand-alone document.
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Old 30th August 2019, 10:25 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by zooterkin View Post
The UKís constitution is written down too, but itís not a single stand-alone document.
Where is the prorogue procedure written?
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Old 30th August 2019, 10:26 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by Mojo View Post
The Lords is still part of the legislative branch.
Totally.

I was merely making the point that Member of Parliament (as a title) is only given to those that sit in the Commons.
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Old 30th August 2019, 11:05 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by BobTheCoward View Post
Where is the prorogue procedure written?
I assume it's the Prorogation Act 1867

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/...1/81/section/1

Quote:
Power to Her Majesty to issue proclamation for the prorogation of Parliament.

Whenever (save as herein-after excepted) Her Majesty shall be pleased, by and with the advice of the Privy Council of Her Majesty, to issue her royal proclamation to prorogue Parliament from the day to which it shall then stand summoned or prorogued to any further day being not less than fourteen days from the date thereof, such proclamation shall, without any subsequent issue of a writ or writs patent or commission under the Great Seal of the United Kingdom, be a full and sufficient notice to all persons whatever of such the royal intention of Her Majesty, and the Parliament shall thereby stand prorogued to the day and place in such proclamation appointed, notwithstanding any former law, usage, or practice to the contrary.
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Old 30th August 2019, 11:10 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by ThatGuy11200 View Post
I assume it's the Prorogation Act 1867

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/...1/81/section/1
Is that one sentence? mid 1800s were wordy.
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Old 30th August 2019, 01:30 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by lomiller View Post
Even the US constitution more or less just mimicked English common law of the period. A constitution is more important when you donít have precedent to fall back on or simply want to repatriate that precedent so you are appealing to precedent in what are now completely separate countries.
Originally Posted by zooterkin View Post
The UKís constitution is written down too, but itís not a single stand-alone document.
This could/should easily be its own topic. I disagree, to me a Constitution is something that is harder to change and that binds the government more seriously/strictly than mere legislation. The doctrine of Parliamentary supremacy means that, no matter what, Parliament can legislate about it, change its mind, etc. For instance, the US constitution Bill of Rights prohibits government from doing things unless the Constitution is amended. The UK Parliament can legislate anything. They can pass a new law about prorogation or not, abolish the monarchy, pass a bill of attainder (prohibited in the US constitution for that reason), etc.

Or let me put it another way. Give me an example of what the UK Parliament is, constitutionally, prohibited from enacting. I mean actually prohibited, not there's a polite convention that gentlemen and women don't do that, I mean actually prohibited. Even if the UK has agreed to a treaty about something, they're free to abrogate their agreement. Even existing royal prerogatives are subject to being e.g. extinguished by Parliament.
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Old 31st August 2019, 12:36 AM   #25
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Usually the rules of Parliamentary behaviour are referred to as the "Standing Orders"

https://www.parliament.uk/site-infor...anding-orders/
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Old 1st September 2019, 01:14 AM   #26
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Originally Posted by epeeist View Post
This could/should easily be its own topic. I disagree, to me a Constitution is something that is harder to change and that binds the government more seriously/strictly than mere legislation. The doctrine of Parliamentary supremacy means that, no matter what, Parliament can legislate about it, change its mind, etc. For instance, the US constitution Bill of Rights prohibits government from doing things unless the Constitution is amended. The UK Parliament can legislate anything. They can pass a new law about prorogation or not, abolish the monarchy, pass a bill of attainder (prohibited in the US constitution for that reason), etc.



Or let me put it another way. Give me an example of what the UK Parliament is, constitutionally, prohibited from enacting. I mean actually prohibited, not there's a polite convention that gentlemen and women don't do that, I mean actually prohibited. Even if the UK has agreed to a treaty about something, they're free to abrogate their agreement. Even existing royal prerogatives are subject to being e.g. extinguished by Parliament.
Not seeing any difference if the legislate can amend and alter the constitution then it's just the same, in the end the legislate is sovereign.
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Old 1st September 2019, 08:50 AM   #27
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Originally Posted by Darat View Post
Not seeing any difference if the legislate can amend and alter the constitution then it's just the same, in the end the legislate is sovereign.
I know in the US they cannot. Don't know about others.
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Old 1st September 2019, 09:38 AM   #28
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Originally Posted by BobTheCoward View Post
I know in the US they cannot.
They cannot? Who makes the Amendments, then?
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Old 1st September 2019, 09:47 AM   #29
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Originally Posted by zooterkin View Post
They cannot? Who makes the Amendments, then?
Anyone can write an amendment. Congress can propose an amendment for ratification by a majority vote. [ETA: The proposal has to pass with a majority vote. Ratification follows from that as a separate vote.] That proposal is then voted on by the states, who bear the ultimate authority for amending the constitution.

That said, the states do have the option of delegating their authority back to the federal legislature, and letting the legislature vote on the proposed amendment. But even this option must be triggered by the states, not by the federal legislature.

I'm not sure what "makes the Amendments" is supposed to mean. In terms of actually having the authority to amend the constitution, it's the states.

Source: 30 seconds of googling

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Old 2nd September 2019, 04:49 AM   #30
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
Anyone can write an amendment. Congress can propose an amendment for ratification by a majority vote. [ETA: The proposal has to pass with a majority vote. Ratification follows from that as a separate vote.] That proposal is then voted on by the states, who bear the ultimate authority for amending the constitution.

That said, the states do have the option of delegating their authority back to the federal legislature, and letting the legislature vote on the proposed amendment. But even this option must be triggered by the states, not by the federal legislature.

I'm not sure what "makes the Amendments" is supposed to mean. In terms of actually having the authority to amend the constitution, it's the states.

Source: 30 seconds of googling
Couldn't have put it better myself: The legislature can alter the constitution.
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Old 2nd September 2019, 04:56 AM   #31
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Originally Posted by Darat View Post
Couldn't have put it better myself: The legislature can alter the constitution.
Not by themselves, and not by simple majority. They require the approval of a thousand other people. That is the opposite of supreme.
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Old 2nd September 2019, 06:59 AM   #32
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Originally Posted by BobTheCoward View Post
Not by themselves, and not by simple majority. They require the approval of a thousand other people. That is the opposite of supreme.
Your quantitative rather than qualitative difference has no interest to me.
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Old 2nd September 2019, 07:32 AM   #33
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Originally Posted by Darat View Post
Your quantitative rather than qualitative difference has no interest to me.
Okay, qualitatively, the legislature does not possess unilateral ability to amend the Constitution. It lacks the legislative supremacy of a parliament.
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Old 2nd September 2019, 08:03 AM   #34
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Originally Posted by Darat View Post
Your quantitative rather than qualitative difference has no interest to me.
Well, usually, or almost invariably it is way more difficult to change a constitution than an ordinary law or statute. Usually at least 2/3rds majority is needed and in some countries a new election and parliament to confirm the decision. Britain is unique in the sense that a mere plurality of the parliament is pretty much omnipotent - that's why it's sometimes half-jokingly called a parliamentary dictatorship. Also there is not a one document explicitly called the constitution but a bit of a maze of legislation and customs. Pretty far you could say the that the authority that once made Charles I to lose has now been bestowed on the parliament - or, de facto, the cabinet and PM - surprisingly intact.

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Old 3rd September 2019, 07:09 AM   #35
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Originally Posted by Darat View Post
Couldn't have put it better myself: The legislature can alter the constitution.
I'd say that's the opposite of what actually happens. The federal legislature can propose an alteration, but only the states can actually alter the constitution. Even in the scenario where the federal legislature actually votes, they do so at the instigation of the states, using authority delegated to them by the states.

This distinction between federal and state authority is fairly important in the US system of government.
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Old 3rd September 2019, 07:18 AM   #36
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Originally Posted by BobTheCoward View Post
Not by themselves, and not by simple majority. They require the approval of a thousand other people. That is the opposite of supreme.
Well of course a majority is not needed, only good political campaigns see prohibition as an example of something that never was terribly popular getting into the constitution by having good lobbyists.
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Old 3rd September 2019, 11:38 AM   #37
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
This distinction between federal and state authority is fairly important in the US system of government.
I have to say that once I finally understood that many things have been much easier to understand. Thoug as great as your constitution was for a largely pre-urban nation finally the size of a continent, it doesn't serve you well at all these fallen days. It's outdated and non-functional.
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Old 3rd September 2019, 12:09 PM   #38
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Originally Posted by llwyd View Post
I have to say that once I finally understood that many things have been much easier to understand. Thoug as great as your constitution was for a largely pre-urban nation finally the size of a continent, it doesn't serve you well at all these fallen days. It's outdated and non-functional.
I'm an Arizonan before I am an American.
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Old 3rd September 2019, 01:16 PM   #39
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Originally Posted by BobTheCoward View Post
I'm an Arizonan before I am an American.
Is that from the heart or because it is the legal hierarchy?
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Old 3rd September 2019, 02:08 PM   #40
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
I'd say that's the opposite of what actually happens. The federal legislature can propose an alteration, but only the states can actually alter the constitution. Even in the scenario where the federal legislature actually votes, they do so at the instigation of the states, using authority delegated to them by the states.

This distinction between federal and state authority is fairly important in the US system of government.
Everything you posted talked about the legislators being able to change whatever they wished, whenever they wished to. Exactly like the UK.
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