Acts of Parliament and the Parliament Acts
Law Quarterly Review, 123 91-115, 2007
Posted: 10 Jun 2015
Date Written: 2007
THE Parliament Acts 1911 and 1949 bear, somehow, on how legislation may be enacted. The nature and effect of the Acts has recently been the focus of judicial scrutiny. The occasion, the case of Jackson v Attorney General, was a challenge to the validity of the Hunting Act 2004, which was enacted, or at least purportedly enacted, pursuant to the Parliament Act 1911 as amended by the Parliament Act 1949. The 1949 Act itself had been enacted not with the joint assent of the King, Lords and Commons but rather with the assent of the King and Commons pursuant to the 1911 Act. The issue for the judges then was whether the purported 1949 amendment fell within the scope of the 1911 Act. All 14 judges who heard the case concluded that the 1949 Act was valid. I agree. The judges adopted various reasons for this conclusion, which I do not intend to catalogue. My interest is instead in what the Acts reveal about Parliament and how it acts. I take Jackson to provide an opportunity to examine how the Acts function, and thus how they stand in relation to the legislative authority. of Parliament. with the benefit of reflection on and engagement with the reasoning of the judges. My argument is that the Acts are a decision-making procedure that Parliament has adopted to direct its further action: The structure of my argument is first to confront the claim that the Acts delegate legislative authority and then to explain how it is that Parliament may act when only the Queen and Commons assent I contend that it is open to Parliament to adopt a procedure to this effect and that this does not entail that the manner and form theory is correct or that the rule of recognition has changed. The function of the Acts, I end by arguing, is consistent with the constitutional status of Parliament, in that the courts have no jurisdiction to examine how the Acts apply.
JEL Classification: K00
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation