Speaker of the House of Commons (United Kingdom)
The Speaker of the House of Commons is the presiding officer of the House of Commons, the United Kingdom's nominally lower, but more influential, chamber of Parliament. John Bercow was elected Speaker on 22 June 2009, following the resignation of Michael Martin, he was since re-elected, three times, following the general elections in 2010, 2015 and 2017. The Speaker presides over the House's debates; the Speaker is responsible for maintaining order during debate, may punish members who break the rules of the House. Unlike presiding officers of legislatures in many other countries, Speakers remain non-partisan and renounce all affiliation with their former political parties when taking office and afterwards; the Speaker does not take part in vote. Aside from duties relating to presiding over the House, the Speaker performs administrative and procedural functions, remains a constituency Member of Parliament; the Speaker has the obligation to reside in Speaker's House at the Palace of Westminster.
The office of Speaker is as old as Parliament itself. The earliest year for which a presiding officer has been identified is 1258, when Peter de Montfort presided over the Parliament held in Oxford. Early presiding officers were known by prolocutor; the continuous history of the office of Speaker is held to date from 1376 when Sir Peter de la Mare spoke for the commons in the "Good Parliament" as they joined leading magnates in purging the chief ministers of the Crown and the most unpopular members of the king's household. Edward III was frail and in seclusion, it was left to a furious John of Gaunt, to fight back. He arrested disgraced other leading critics. In the next, "Bad Parliament", in 1377, a cowed Commons put forward Gaunt's steward, Thomas Hungerford, as their spokesman in retracting their predecessors' misdeeds of the previous year. Gaunt evidently wanted a "mirror-image" as his form of counter-coup and this notion, born in crisis, of one'speaker', who also became'chairman' and organiser of the Commons' business, was recognised as valuable and took immediate root after 1376–7.
On 6 October 1399, Sir John Cheyne of Beckford was elected speaker. The powerful Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Arundel, is said to have voiced his fears of Cheyne's reputation as a critic of the Church. Eight days Cheyne resigned on grounds of ill-health, although he remained in favour with the king and active in public life for a further 14 years. Although the officer was elected by the Commons at the start of each Parliament, with at least one contested election known, in 1420, in practice the Crown was able to get whom it wanted, indicating that the famous'defence of the Commons' privilege' should not be seen in isolation as the principal thread in the office's evolution. Whilst the principle of giving this spokesman personal immunity from recrimination as only being the voice of the whole body was adopted and did enhance the Commons' role, the Crown found it useful to have one person with the authority to select and lead the lower house's business and responses to the Crown's agenda, much more than not in the way the Crown wanted.
Thus, Whig ideas of the Commons growing in authority as against royal power are somewhat simplistic. Throughout the medieval and early modern period, every speaker was an MP for a county, reflecting the implicit position that such shire representatives were of greater standing in the house than the more numerous burgess MPs. Although evidence is non-existent, it has been surmised that any vote was by count of head, but by the same token the lack of evidence of actual votes suggests that most decisions, at least of a general kind, were reached more through persuasion and the weight by status of the county MPs. In such a situation, the influence of the speaker should not be underestimated. Sir Thomas More was the first speaker to go on to become Lord Chancellor; until the 17th century, members of the House of Commons continued to view their speaker as an agent of the Crown. As Parliament evolved, the Speaker's position grew to involve more duties to the House than to the Crown; this change is sometimes said to be reflected by an incident in 1642, when King Charles I entered the House in order to search for and arrest five members for high treason.
When the King asked him if he knew of the location of these members, the Speaker, William Lenthall, famously replied: "May it please your Majesty, I have neither eyes to see nor tongue to speak in this place but as the House is pleased to direct me, whose servant I am here."The development of Cabinet government under King William III in the late 17th century caused further change in the role of the Speaker. Speakers were associated with the ministry, held other government offices. For example, Robert Harley served as Speaker and as a Secretary of State between 1704 and 1705; the speaker between 1728 and 1761, Arthur Onslow, reduced ties with the government, though the office remained to a large degree political. The speakership evolved into its modern form—in which the holder is an impartial and apolitical officer who does not
James Abercromby, 1st Baron Dunfermline
James Abercromby, 1st Baron Dunfermline, was a British barrister and Whig politician. He served as Speaker of the House of Commons between 1835 and 1839. Abercromby was the third son of General Sir Ralph Abercromby, who fell at the Battle of Alexandria, Mary, 1st Baroness Abercromby, daughter of John Menzies of Fernton, Perthshire, he was the younger brother of George Abercromby, 2nd Baron Abercromby and Sir John Abercromby and the elder brother of Alexander Abercromby. He attended the Royal High School and was called to the English Bar, Lincoln's Inn, in 1801, he became a commissioner of bankruptcy and appointed steward of the Duke of Devonshire's estates. Abercromby sat as Whig Member of Parliament for Midhurst between 1807 and 1812 and for Calne between 1812 and 1830, he brought forwards two motions for bills to change the representation for Edinburgh in parliament. He received great support but no change was made until the Reform Act 1832. In 1827 he was sworn of the Privy Council and appointed Judge-Advocate-General by George Canning, a post he held until 1828, the last months under the premiership of Lord Goderich.
In 1830 Abercromby was made Lord Chief Baron of the Court of Exchequer in Scotland, a position he retained until 1832, when the office was abolished. He received a pension of £2,000 a year. In 1832 returned to the House of Commons as one of two members for Edinburgh, whose representation had now been increased from one to two members. In July 1834 he entered Lord Melbourne's cabinet as Master of the Mint, but only held the post until November of the same year, when the Whigs lost power. Abercromby was considered for the speakership of the House of Commons by his party in 1833, but Edward Littleton was chosen instead. However, in 1835 he was chosen as the Whig candidate. Due to an evenly balanced House of Commons the election rendered great interest and was fiercely contested. On 19 February 1835 Abercromby was elected, defeating Manners-Sutton by 316 votes to 306; the Dictionary of National Biography writes that "As speaker Abercromby acted with great impartiality while he possessed sufficient decision to quell any serious tendency to disorder."
During his tenure a number of reforms for the introduction of private bills were made. In spite of failing health Abercromby continued as speaker until 1839. On his retirement he was raised to the peerage as Baron Dunfermline, of Dunfermline in the County of Fife. After his retirement Abercromby continued to take an interest in public affairs those involving the city of Edinburgh, he was one of the originators of the United Industrial School for the support and training of destitute children. In 1841 he was elected as Dean of Faculty at the University of Glasgow, he wrote a biography of his father, published posthumously in 1861. Lord Dunfermline married Mary Anne, daughter of Egerton Leigh, of West Hall, in High Legh, on 14 June 1802, he died at Collinton House, Midlothian, in April 1858, aged 81, was buried at Grange cemetery, Edinburgh. He was succeeded in the barony by his son, Sir Ralph Abercromby, KCB, Secretary of Legation at Berlin and served as Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to Sardinia between 1840 and 1851 and to The Hague between 1851 and 1858.
Lady Dunfermline died in August 1874. He was the nephew of Lord Kennet. Burke, History of the Commoners of Great Britain and Ireland, vol.iii, London, 1838, p. 1 – 2. Anderson, The Scottish Nation, Edinburgh, 1867, vol.iv, p. 105. Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by James Abercromby "Archival material relating to James Abercromby, 1st Baron Dunfermline". UK National Archives
Sir Ralph Abercromby was a Scottish soldier and politician. He rose to the rank of lieutenant-general in the British Army, was noted for his services during the Napoleonic Wars, served as Commander-in-Chief, Ireland, he twice served as MP for Clackmannanshire, he was appointed Governor of Trinidad. He was the eldest son of Mary, daughter of Ralph Dundas of Manour and George Abercromby of Tullibody, a brother of the advocate Alexander Abercromby, Lord Abercromby and General Sir Robert Abercromby, he was born at Clackmannanshire. Ralph Abercromby's education, begun by a private tutor, was continued at the school of Mr Moir at Alloa considered one of the best in Scotland despite its Jacobite leanings. After passing some time there, Ralph was sent to Rugby, where he remained till he was 18 becoming a student at the University of Edinburgh. In Edinburgh, he studied moral and natural philosophy and civil law and was regarded by his professors as sound rather than brilliant, he was sent to Leipzig University in 1754 to study civil law with a view to career as an advocate.
Abercromby was a Freemason. He was a member of Canongate Kilwinning Lodge No 2, Scotland. On returning from the continent, Abercromby expressed a strong preference for the military profession, a cornet's commission was accordingly obtained for him in the 3rd Dragoon Guards, he served with his regiment in the Seven Years' War, thus, the opportunity afforded him of studying the methods of Frederick the Great, who moulded his military character and formed his tactical ideas. He rose through the intermediate grades to the rank of lieutenant-colonel of the regiment and brevet colonel in 1780, in 1781, he became colonel of the newly raised King's Irish infantry; when that regiment was disbanded in 1783, he retired upon half pay. He entered Parliament as MP for Clackmannanshire, he was a strong supporter of the American cause in the American Revolutionary War, remained in Ireland to avoid having to fight against the colonists. When France declared war against Great Britain in 1793, he resumed his duties.
He was appointed command of a brigade under the Duke of York for service in the Netherlands, where he commanded the advanced guard in the action at Le Cateau. During the 1794 withdrawal to Holland, he commanded the allied forces in the action at Boxtel and was wounded directing operations at Fort St Andries on the Waal. In 1795, he was appointed a Knight of the Bath for his services; that same year, he was appointed to succeed Sir Charles Grey as commander-in-chief of the British forces in the West Indies. In 1796, Grenada was attacked and taken by a detachment of the army under his orders. Afterwards, Abercromby secured possession of the settlements of Demerara and Essequibo in South America, the islands of Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and Trinidad. A major assault on the port of San Juan, Puerto Rico, in April 1797 failed after fierce fighting where both sides suffered heavy losses. Abercromby returned to Europe and, in reward for his services, was appointed colonel of the 2nd Regiment of Dragoons.
He was made Lieutenant-Governor of the Isle of Wight, Governor of Fort George and Fort Augustus in the Scottish Highlands, promoted to the rank of Lieutenant-general. He again entered Parliament as member for Clackmannanshire from 1796 to 1798. From 1797 to 1798, he was Commander-in-Chief of the forces in Ireland. To quote the biographic entry in the 1888 Encyclopædia Britannica, "There he laboured to maintain the discipline of the army, to suppress the rising rebellion, to protect the people from military oppression, with the care worthy of a great general and an enlightened and beneficent statesman; when he was appointed to the command in Ireland, an invasion of that country by the French was confidently anticipated by the British government. He used his utmost efforts to restore the discipline of an army, utterly disorganized. Finding that he received no adequate support from the head of the Irish government, that all his efforts were opposed and thwarted by those who presided in the councils of Ireland, he resigned the command.
His departure from Ireland was lamented by the reflecting portion of the people, was speedily followed by those disastrous results which he had anticipated, which he so ardently desired and had so wisely endeavoured to prevent." After holding for a short period the office of commander-in-chief in Scotland, Sir Ralph, when the enterprise against the Dutch Batavian Republic was resolved upon in 1799, was again called to command under the Duke of York. The Anglo-Russian invasion of Holland in 1799 ended in disaster, but friend and foe alike confessed that the most decisive victory could not have more conspicuously proved the talents of this distinguished officer. In 1801, he was sent with an army to recover Egypt from France, his experience in the Netherlands and the West Indies fitted him for this new command, as was proved when he carried his army in health, in spirits, with the requisite supplies to the destined scene of action despite great difficulties. The debarkation of the troops at Abukir, in the face of strenuous opposition, is justly ranked among the most daring and brilliant exploits of the British army.
In 1800 he commanded the expedition to the Mediterranean, after some brilliant operations defeated the French in the Battle of Alexandria, 21 M
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 the Tories; the Whigs' origin lay in constitutional opposition to absolute monarchy. The Whigs played a central role in the Glorious Revolution of 1688 and were the standing enemies of the Stuart kings and pretenders, who were Roman Catholic; the Whigs took full control of the government in 1715 and remained dominant until King George III, coming to the throne in 1760, allowed Tories back in. The Whig Supremacy was enabled by the Hanoverian succession of George I in 1714 and the failed Jacobite rising of 1715 by Tory rebels; the Whigs purged the Tories from all major positions in government, the army, the Church of England, the legal profession and local offices. The Party's hold on power was so strong and durable, historians call the period from 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 and whose protégé Henry Pelham led from 1743 to 1754.
Both parties began as loose groupings or tendencies, but became quite formal by 1784 with the ascension of Charles James Fox as the leader of a reconstituted Whig Party, arrayed against the governing party of the new Tories under William Pitt the Younger. Both parties were founded on rich politicians more than on popular votes, there were elections to the House of Commons, but a small number of men controlled most of the voters; the Whig Party evolved during the 18th century. The Whig tendency supported the great aristocratic families, the Protestant Hanoverian succession and toleration for nonconformist Protestants, while some Tories supported the exiled Stuart royal family's claim to the throne and all Tories supported the established Church of England and the gentry. 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. However, by the first half of the 19th century the Whig political programme came to encompass not only the supremacy of parliament over the monarch and support for free trade, but Catholic emancipation, the abolition of slavery and expansion of the franchise.
The 19th century Whig support for Catholic emancipation was a complete reversal of the party's historic anti-Catholic position at its late 17th century origin. The term "Whig" was 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 the Wars of the Three Kingdoms to refer derisively to a radical faction of the Scottish Covenanters who called themselves the "Kirk Party", it was applied to Scottish Presbyterian rebels who were against the King's Episcopalian order in Scotland. The term "Whig" entered English political discourse during the Exclusion Bill crisis of 1678–1681 when there was controversy about whether or not King Charles II's brother, should be allowed to succeed to the throne on Charles's death. "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 joked that "the first Whig was the Devil".
Under Lord Shaftesbury's leadership, the Whigs in the Parliament of England wished to exclude the Duke of York from the throne due to his Roman Catholicism, his favouring of monarchical absolutism, his connections to France. They believed the heir presumptive, if allowed to inherit the throne, would endanger the Protestant religion and property; 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, but the subsequent elections in August and September saw the Whigs' strength increase; 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, but was rejected in the Lords. 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 after only 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, who promised to support him against the Whigs. Without Parliament, the Whigs crumbled due to government repression following the discovery of the Rye House Plot; the Whig peers, the Earl of Melville, the Earl of Leven, Lord Shaftesbury, Charles II's illegitimate son the Duke of Monmouth, being implicated, fled to and regrouped in the United Provinces. Algernon Sidney, Sir Thomas Armstrong and William Russell, Lord Russell, were executed for treason; the Earl of Essex committed suicide in the Tower of London over his arrest for treason, whilst Lord Grey of Werke escaped from the Tower. After the Glorious Revolution of 1688, Queen Mary II and King William III governed with both Whigs and Tories, despite the fact that many of the Tories still supported the deposed Roman Catholic James II. William saw that the Tories were friendlier to royal authority than the Whigs and he employed both groups in his government, his early ministry was Tory, but the government came to be dominated by the so-called Junto Whig