Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom is the head of Her Majestys Government in the United Kingdom. The prime minister and Cabinet are collectively accountable for their policies and actions to the Monarch, to Parliament, to their political party, the office is one of the Great Offices of State. The current prime minister, Theresa May, leader of the Conservative Party, was appointed by the Queen on 13 July 2016. The position of Prime Minister was not created, it evolved slowly and erratically over three hundred years due to acts of Parliament, political developments, and accidents of history. The office is therefore best understood from a historical perspective, the origins of the position are found in constitutional changes that occurred during the Revolutionary Settlement and the resulting shift of political power from the Sovereign to Parliament. The political position of Prime Minister was enhanced by the development of political parties, the introduction of mass communication. By the start of the 20th century the modern premiership had emerged, prior to 1902, the prime minister sometimes came from the House of Lords, provided that his government could form a majority in the Commons.
However as the power of the aristocracy waned during the 19th century the convention developed that the Prime Minister should always sit in the lower house. As leader of the House of Commons, the Prime Ministers authority was further enhanced by the Parliament Act of 1911 which marginalised the influence of the House of Lords in the law-making process. The Prime Minister is ex officio First Lord of the Treasury, certain privileges, such as residency of 10 Downing Street, are accorded to Prime Ministers by virtue of their position as First Lord of the Treasury. As the Head of Her Majestys Government the modern Prime Minister leads the Cabinet, in addition the Prime Minister leads a major political party and generally commands a majority in the House of Commons. As such the incumbent wields both legislative and executive powers, under the British system there is a unity of powers rather than separation. In the House of Commons, the Prime Minister guides the process with the goal of enacting the legislative agenda of their political party.
The Prime Minister acts as the face and voice of Her Majestys Government. The British system of government is based on an uncodified constitution, in 1928, Prime Minister H. H. Asquith described this characteristic of the British constitution in his memoirs, In this country we live. Our constitutional practices do not derive their validity and sanction from any Bill which has received the assent of the King, Lords. They rest on usage, convention, often of slow growth in their early stages, not always uniform, the relationships between the Prime Minister and the Sovereign and Cabinet are defined largely by these unwritten conventions of the constitution. Many of the Prime Ministers executive and legislative powers are actually royal prerogatives which are still vested in the Sovereign
A husting originally referred to a native Germanic governing assembly, the thing. By metonymy, the term may now refer to any event, such as debates or speeches, the term is used synonymously with stump in the United States. Husting, or more usually the plural hustings, developed to mean a court of the city of London and it had probate jurisdiction and the ability to register wills. The Charter of Harthacnut contains a reference to hustings weights, which points to the establishment of this court. It is doubtful whether courts of this name were held in other towns, says that according to Fleta there were such courts at Winchester, Lincoln, Isle of Sheppey and elsewhere. However, the passage from Fleta, as the New English Dictionary points out and this hustings court jurisdiction eventually became obsolete, but the court still sits occasionally for registering gifts made to the city. Today, the Hustings Court tradition can be found in areas of the United States, such as in Virginia. In Richmond, there is a park called Hustings Court Square, the husting was a platform or pavilion, a temporary structure erected at the place of an election.
The returning officer was responsible for the timing of the election. County elections took place at a place of election, which was usually the county town or a large town. On the appointed day the returning officer attended at the husting with the prospective candidates, the candidates, with a proposer and a seconder for each, addressed the assembled voters. This could sometimes be a task in a large urban constituency. At the conclusion of the speeches, a show of hands was taken and this was an informal indication of the opinion of the voters and no official record was kept of how many voted for a particular candidate. Sometimes a candidate who found he had little support or otherwise did not want to continue declined to call for a poll, one example of this was seen in the 1784 election for the four seats of the City of London. William Pitt the Younger was proposed and was returned on the show of hands, if after this process there were no more candidates nominated and willing to go to the poll than seats to be filled, the existing candidates were declared elected.
This was called an unopposed return, but if there remained more candidates than vacancies, the polling commenced. During polling, each vote was declared openly on the husting, the vote was recorded in a poll book, along with the name of each voter. In certain occasions, additional candidates were nominated as the polling continued, polling could continue for many days, so long as there were voters wanting to participate and the candidates desired to continue
Parliament of Scotland
The Parliament of Scotland, or Estates of Parliament, was the legislature of the Kingdom of Scotland. The parliament, like other such institutions, evolved during the Middle Ages from the council of bishops. It is first identifiable as a parliament in 1235, during the reign of Alexander II, by the early fourteenth century, the attendance of knights and freeholders had become important, and from 1326 commissioners from the burghs attended. Parliamentary business was carried out by sister institutions, such as General Councils or Convention of Estates. These could carry out much business dealt with by parliament – taxation and policy-making –, the Parliament of Scotland met for more than four centuries, until it was prorogued sine die at the time of the Acts of Union in 1707. Thereafter the Parliament of Great Britain operated for both England and Scotland, thus creating the United Kingdom of Great Britain, when the Parliament of Ireland was abolished in 1801, its former members were merged into what was now called the Parliament of the United Kingdom.
Later, the bishops themselves were removed from the Church of Scotland during the Glorious Revolution, the Second Estate was split into two to retain the division into three. From the 16th century, the estate was reorganised by the selection of Shire Commissioners. During the 17th century, after the Union of the Crowns and these latter identifications remain highly controversial among parliamentary historians. Regardless, the used for the assembled members continued to be the Three Estates. A Shire Commissioner was the closest equivalent of the English office of Member of Parliament, because the parliament of Scotland was unicameral, all members sat in the same chamber, as opposed to the separate English House of Lords and House of Commons. The Scottish parliament evolved during the Middle Ages from the Kings Council and it is perhaps first identifiable as a parliament in 1235, described as a colloquium and already with a political and judicial role. In 1296 we have the first mention of burgh representatives taking part in decision making, by the early 14th century, the attendance of knights and freeholders had become important, and Robert the Bruce began regularly calling burgh commissioners to his Parliament.
Consisting of The Three Estates – of clerics, lay Tenants-in-chief and burgh commissioners – sitting in a single chamber, parliamentary business was carried out by sister institutions, before c.1500 by General Council and thereafter by the Convention of Estates. These could carry out much business dealt with by Parliament – taxation and policy-making –, the Scottish parliament met in a number of different locations throughout its history. In addition to Edinburgh, meetings were held in Perth, Stirling, St Andrews, Linlithgow, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Berwick-upon-Tweed. From the early 1450s until 1690, a deal of the legislative business of the Scottish Parliament was usually carried out by a parliamentary committee known as the Lords of the Articles. This was a chosen by the three estates to draft legislation which was presented to the full assembly to be confirmed
Whigs (British political party)
The Whigs were a political faction and a political party in the parliaments of England, Great Britain and the United Kingdom. Between the 1680s and 1850s, they contested power with their rivals, the Whigs origin lay in constitutional monarchism and opposition to absolute monarchy. The Whigs played a role in the Glorious Revolution of 1688, and were the standing enemies of the Stuart kings and pretenders. The Whigs took full control of the government in 1715, and remained dominant until King George III, coming to the throne in 1760. The Whig Supremacy was enabled by the Hanoverian succession of George I in 1714, the Whigs thoroughly purged the Tories from all major positions in government, the army, the Church of England, the legal profession, and local offices. The Partys hold on power was so strong and durable, historians call the period from roughly 1714 to 1783 the age of the Whig Oligarchy. The first great leader of the Whigs was Robert Walpole, who maintained control of the government through the period 1721–1742, his protégé was Henry Pelham, who led from 1743 to 1754.
Both parties were founded on rich politicians, more than on votes, there were elections to the House of Commons. The Whig Party slowly evolved during the 18th century, on, the Whigs drew support from the emerging industrial interests and wealthy merchants, while the Tories drew support from the landed interests and the royal family. The term Whig was originally short for whiggamor, a term meaning cattle driver used to describe western Scots who came to Leith for corn. In the reign of Charles I the term was used during Wars of the Three Kingdoms to refer derisively to a faction of the Scottish Covenanters who called themselves the Kirk Party. It was applied to Scottish Presbyterian rebels who were against the Kings Episcopalian order in Scotland, Whig was a term of abuse applied to those who wanted to exclude James on the grounds that he was a Roman Catholic. The fervent Tory Samuel Johnson often joked that the first Whig was the Devil, the Whigs, under Lord Shaftesburys leadership, wished to exclude the Duke of York from the throne due to his Catholicism, his favouring of monarchical absolutism and his connections to France.
They believed the Duke, if allowed to inherit the throne, would endanger the Protestant religion, the first Exclusion Bill was supported by a substantial majority on its second reading in May 1679. In response, King Charles prorogued Parliament and dissolved it and this new parliament did not meet for thirteen months, because Charles wanted to give passions a chance to die down. When it met in October 1680, an Exclusion Bill was introduced and passed in the Commons without major resistance, Charles dissolved Parliament in January 1681, but the Whigs did not suffer serious losses in the ensuing election. The next Parliament first met in March, at Oxford, but Charles dissolved it only after a few days, when he made an appeal to the country against the Whigs, and determined to rule without Parliament. In February, Charles had made a deal with the French King Louis XIV, without Parliament, the Whigs gradually crumbled, mainly due to the Rye House Plot
Sir Watkin Williams-Wynn, 3rd Baronet
Sir Watkin Williams-Wynn, 3rd Baronet was a Welsh politician and prominent Jacobite. The name Watkin Williams-Wynn was common to several of the baronets, there is a Welsh folk song named after the best-known of these. A lifelong Tory, he was Member of Parliament for Denbighshire from 1716 until his death, but for an interlude from 1741–1742. He was elected for the borough of Beaumaris in 1727, in the election of 1741, the Walpole administration targeted his Denbighshire seat. Although Wynn won the vote by 1352 votes to 933 the sheriff disallowed 594 of Wynns votes. Walpoles first defeat in the parliament was in a dispute of this election, and after Walpoles resignation early in 1742 Wynn won the seat back. In the meantime Williams-Wynn sat for Montgomeryshire, vacating the seat on his re-election to Denbighshire, Williams-Wynn served as Mayor of Oswestry in 1728 and of Chester in 1732. The most notable single item of the silver collection is a massive silver gilt punch bowl that Wynn presented to it in 1732.
Those present at the dinner included the Tsar, the King of Prussia, Blücher, the Prince Regent, the Duke of York, there is a college tradition that the bowl will be presented to anyone who can meet two challenges. The first is to put arms around the bowl at its widest point, the bowl measures 5 feet 2 inches at its widest point, and so the first challenge has only been accomplished rarely, the second challenge has not been met. A portrait of Williams by Thomas Hudson was acquired by Jesus College in 1997 and it shows him wearing a sky-blue waistcoat, the colour proclaiming his allegiance to the Tory Jacobite cause. From the early 1720s Wynn headed one of the best known Jacobite clubs and his Jacobite leanings were never concealed — he even publicly burned a picture of George I in 1722. Wynn was increasingly regarded by the exiled Stuarts as a key figure in any potential restoration attempt, Wynn always insisted on this condition being met, and sensibly refused to pledge support in writing.
He engaged in negotiations with Stuart agents in 1740,1742, and 1743 and this visit was repeated in October 1744, despite the fact that Britain and France were at war. He sent messages to Prince Charles Edward promising help when a French army arrived, after the defeat at Culloden, and in the absence of legal proof of Wynns involvement, Pelham deemed his notoriety to be sufficient punishment. He commissioned the building of a new mansion at Wynnstay to replace the house built by William Eyton in 1616 and he was killed by a fall from his horse while out hunting and was buried at Ruabon. His widow, Dame Frances, commissioned a monument from the sculptor Michael Rysbrack, this was too large for existing chancel of the church. The work was completed in 1755, although there is still a Sir Watkin Williams-Wynns Hunt based in Ruabon, the existing pack was re-founded in 1843
Parliament of Great Britain
The Parliament of Great Britain was formed in 1707 following the ratification of the Acts of Union by both the Parliament of England and the Parliament of Scotland. This lasted nearly a century, until the Acts of Union 1800 merged the separate British and Irish Parliaments into a single Parliament of the United Kingdom with effect from 1 January 1801. Following the Treaty of Union in 1706, Acts of Union ratifying the Treaty were passed in both the Parliament of England and the Parliament of Scotland, which created a new Kingdom of Great Britain. The Acts dissolved both parliaments, replacing them with a new parliament, referred to as the Parliament of Great Britain and it was not even considered necessary to hold a new general election. While Scots law and Scottish legislation remained separate, new legislation was thereafter to be enacted by the new parliament, after the Hanoverian King George I ascended the British throne in 1714 through the Act of Settlement of 1701, real power continued to shift away from the monarchy.
George was a German ruler, spoke poor English, and remained interested in governing his dominions in continental Europe rather than in Britain. Reformers and Radicals sought parliamentary reform, but as the French Revolutionary Wars developed the British government became repressive against dissent and progress towards reform was stalled. During the first half of George IIIs reign, the still had considerable influence over Parliament. Most candidates for the House of Commons were identified as Whigs or Tories, reformers like William Beckford and Radicals beginning with John Wilkes called for reform of the system. In 1780 a draft programme of reform was drawn up by Charles James Fox and Thomas Brand Hollis and this included calls for the six points adopted by the Chartists. Pitt had previously called for Parliament to begin to reform itself, proposals Pitt made in April 1785 to redistribute seats from the rotten boroughs to London and the counties were defeated in the House of Commons by 248 votes to 174