Question with regard to Queen in parliment vs Scottish Parliment

Discussion in 'The Intelligence Cell' started by ghost_us, Jun 9, 2011.

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  1. So as to get some serious attention I made this into it's own thread. Yet again just another stupid American trying to broaden his horizons and learn something (Imagine that).

    I'm curious as to a couple things, in reading through some of the Peter Dow postings (Dodges thrown boots and undergarments) there was still an element I learned that is a bit of a truth, at least how I understand it.

    That British Parliment and Scottish parliment are similar but different, and one key difference I've read is the inclusion/exclusion of the queen as a member of parliment.

    While many posts I've read refer to the queen as "Merely a figurehead" that in reading learned of "Crown in parliment" and that created laws are then passed to the queen for approval or in today's case, delegated to elected officials by the queen and approved on her behalf.

    In my two tone only mind that means that the queen/king could, in theory, then revoke that delegation and veto or put the kybosh on any new bills or create a state of war without need of parliment approval. In theory of course, I doubt the likelihood of this is low but is it possible?

    The reason I went in this direction was thinking about what I see a lot on these boards. In contrast to the oaths US servicemen and women take is sworn to the state as an entity, in the UK it's sworn to the crown. What if the crown and local government are at odds? What then? With the example of Scotland, which is probably not the best example of what I'm trying to say but they are a bit at odds these days, would British troops conceivably be used to squash any kind of insurrection?

    The US has some safeguards built in to avoid this sort of thing, like the Posse Commutatis act which makes it expressly illegal to use the military as civil law enforcement. So then the president couldn't order a general or soldier to fire on a US citizen or location. (Hence why gitmo and all that good stuff is located outside of the US). Any order to retake a town by military force would then be an unlawful order. And of course peaceful transition of power every 4 or 8 years, hopefully 4 in this case.

    Are there any like safeguards or measures to ensure that there can be no abuse of power? Forgive me if I'm way off base here, It's only my perception.
  2. The Queen, and any British monarch is there to prevent any one person having total power, as the US President does, and as such can veto any law or intention to declare war etc. that parliment want to pass. As the last guy we let have total power was dug up after his death and drawn and quartered and a monarch promptly restored, albeit with much reduced powers. I don't think any monarch has ever not allowed a law or decleration of war to be passed, but IMHO, it's a hellish safety net to have as a nation if your pime minister is trying to pull a fast one. Didn't stop Blair though :(
  3. Nothing that Parliament couldn't overturn if it wanted; we don't have the same kind of constitutional safeguards you guys in the States have. The idea of Parliamentary supremacy means that Parliament can pass *whatever* law it wants. If it wanted to suddenly decide to make everyone wear skirts on Tuesday, it could. Of course, it'd probably never happen, but it's techincally possible.

    As to the Queen, her power is very limited now. She can't enter Parliament at all. She has one private room to prepare in, before she sits on the throne and 'Black Rod' is sent to bang on the door of the House of Commons. All the MP's then come to the Queen, because it's treason for her to go beyond the throne in the House of Lords.

    When she gives the Royal Assent to a Bill and it becomes law, she only signs the title of the bill. She doesn't see the meat and gristle of the Bill. The last time we had a Royal veto was over the Scots Militia Bill in 1707... Unlike the US, where the Constitution is entrenched and the be-all and end-all, here we do things because they've always been done like that. For example, the Prime Minister coming from the majority party is a convention. The Cabinet's collective responsibility is a convention. It's very much 'it just is' rather than 'this is how it's going to be'.

    The part about the Queen just declaring war is a hangover from the Royal Prerogative, but this is exercised by the Prime Minister now. Most of her powers are used by the Cabinet, which is in turn a hangover from the Privy Council of days gone by. As for Scotland, their Parliament is only there because our Parliament says it is. If tomorrow we just repealed the Scotland Act, their Parliament would cease to exist and Alex Salmond would die of shock.

    The main difference is that rather than the Constitution setting out everyone's powers and limits in the US, here Parliament is an almighty body we just trust to be good.
  4. That was my next point I was getting to.

    So let's assume Charles assumes the throne (or is it ascends?) and has his own ideas about what direction things would go and becomes at odds with the prime minister. Being appointed by the King can he then dismiss the Prime minister? What would happen if the parliment and crown were at odds? What would the role of the army be? Is it conceivable that one or the other could order the army to act on their behalf?
  5. It depends if we dislike that particular prime minister or their party I suppose. Chances are the troops would stay in barracks regardless of who has ordered them against who. Unless it was Blair of course, but that goes without saying!
  6. Thanks for that. This was exactly the kind of insight I was looking for.

    I was reading that but had some trouble understanding it in the article about "precedent and convention". A little scary if you get a power monger in there I think however.
  7. The House of Lords retain a power of veto over Acts of Parliment, which in reality isn't worth much. They can send an Act back to the House of Commons for ammendment, for example. But ultimately The House of Commons can still push it through.

    However, there is one very important exception to this. If the Government were to attempt to abolish any further elections and thus remain in office. The House of Lords could veto that. Only please don't ask me to substantiate this with a chapter and verse quote as I don't have it.
  8. Trans-sane

    Trans-sane LE Book Reviewer

    Again we return the Blair (my bold). That is exactly what we got after the General Election of 1997...
  9. I thought the national guard do get involve in civil law? Wern't they called out when the southern states got a bit uppity about blacks being allowed into white schools?
  10. "Power Monger" - wouldn't happen we have checks and balances. Although we have the position of Prime Minister who does indeed take decisions, we have a cabinet of ministers therefore rule by consensus. If our Prime Minister started to look like a megalomaniac the country and media (who finally have a credible part to play) would notice and his party would start the appropriate means of replacing him/her. In fact most of our political parties like to replace their leaders pretty regularly and usually the reason is nothing more than unpopularity.

    Not read any memoirs regarding Tony Blair and his command of the cabinet but if there was anyone in recent history who basically ruled singlehandedly and the cabinet meekly followed it was Margaret Thatcher. "Power Monger" is a bit of a misnomer anyway, in order to get to the position of leader of your party and possibly Prime Minister you have to be power-hungry and capable of defeating all comers.

    Our political system does sound scary to some countries who practice a slightly different form of government/constitution, imagine trying to reproduce our system in a country that has no history of precedent and convention! That is why I believe most countries who decide to go down a democratic system choose the US system of having a written constitution.
  11. Posse Comitatus Act does not apply to national guard when under direction of the state governor however does apply to the guard when under federal authority. Congress can wave the act and the president can direct the military to a location to put down riots after state and local efforts have failed via the insurrection act but in a limited time capacity. So they can quell unrest but no powers of arrest and all that good stuff.
  12. TheIronDuke

    TheIronDuke LE Book Reviewer

    Wasn't that the reason Bush gave for not sending the National Guard in to New Orleans after Katerina? The State Governor had not called for them, so he couldn't? I leave the Brit constitutional monarchy laws and customs to others, but Brit troops have been ordered in to sort civilians. Most notably at the Peterloo Massacre in 1819. *Yet another Wiki link. What did we do before Wiki, eh?*

  13. Not to mention being sent to clear Hoovertown during the Great Depression.

    Ultimately, governments can do what they can get away with and no document or no amount of holding to account after the fact can change that.

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