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Her Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Council is a body of advisors to the British Sovereign. Its members are largely senior politicians, who were or are members of either the House of Commons or House of Lords of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

The Privy Council, the successor of the Privy Council of England, was formerly a powerful institution, but its policy decisions are now controlled by one of its committees, the Cabinet of the United Kingdom. It advises the Sovereign on the exercise of the Royal Prerogative, and issues executive orders known as Orders-in-Council and Orders of Council. Orders-in-Council make government regulations and appointments. Orders of Council are issued under the specific authority of Acts of Parliament, which delegate such matters to the Council, and are normally used to regulate public institutions. The Council advises on the issuing of Royal Charters, which grant special status to incorporated bodies and city and borough status to towns.

The Council also performs judicial functions, which are for the most part delegated to the Judicial Committee. The Committee consists of senior judges appointed as Privy Counsellors: justices of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, judges of the Court of Appeal of England and Wales, judges of the Court of Appeal in Northern Ireland and judges of the Inner House of the Court of Session (the supreme civil court of Scotland). It was formerly a supreme court of appeal for the entire British Empire, and continues to hear appeals from British Overseas Territories, Sovereign Base Areas, Crown Dependencies and some Commonwealth countries.

Contents

History

During the reigns of the Norman monarchs, the English Crown was advised by a royal court, which consisted of magnates, ecclesiastics and high officials. The body originally concerned itself with advising the Sovereign on legislation, administration and justice.[1] Later, different bodies assuming distinct functions evolved from the court. The courts of law took over the business of dispensing justice, while Parliament became the supreme legislature of the kingdom.[2] Nevertheless, the Council retained the power to hear legal disputes, either in the first instance or on appeal.[3] Furthermore, laws made by the Sovereign on the advice of the Council, rather than on the advice of Parliament, were accepted as valid.[4]

Powerful Sovereigns often used the body to circumvent the courts and Parliament.[4] For example, a committee of the Council—which later became the Court of the Star Chamber—was during the fifteenth century permitted to inflict any punishment except death, without being bound by normal court procedure.[5] During Henry VIII's reign, the Sovereign, on the advice of the Council, was allowed to enact laws by mere proclamation. The legislative pre-eminence of Parliament was not restored until after Henry VIII's death.[6] Though the royal Council retained legislative and judicial responsibilities, it became a primarily administrative body.[7] The Council consisted of forty members in 1553,[8] but the Sovereign relied on a smaller committee, which later evolved into the modern Cabinet.

By the end of the English Civil War, the monarchy, House of Lords and Privy Council were abolished. The remaining house of Parliament, the House of Commons, instituted a Council of State to execute laws and to direct administrative policy. The forty-one members of the Council were elected by the Commons; the body was headed by Oliver Cromwell, the de facto military dictator of the nation. In 1653, however, Cromwell became Lord Protector, and the Council was reduced to between thirteen and twenty-one members, all elected by the Commons. In 1657, the Commons granted Cromwell even greater powers, some of which were reminiscent of those enjoyed by monarchs. The Council became known as the Protector's Privy Council; its members were appointed by the Lord Protector, subject to Parliament's approval.[9]

In 1659, shortly before the restoration of the monarchy, the Protector's Council was abolished.[9] Charles II restored the royal Privy Council, but he, like previous Stuart monarchs, chose to rely on a small committee of advisers.[10] Under George I even more power passed to this committee. It now began to meet in the absence of the Sovereign, communicating their decisions to him after the fact. Thus the Privy Council, as a whole, ceased to be a body of important confidential advisers to the Sovereign; the role passed to a committee of the Privy Council, now known as the Cabinet.[11]

Origin of the Term

According to the OED, the definition of the word 'privy' in Privy Council is an obsolete one meaning "Of or pertaining exclusively to a particular person or persons; one's own"[12], insofar as the Council is personal to the Sovereign.

Composition

The Sovereign, when acting on the Council's advice, is known as the "King-in-Council" or "Queen-in-Council".[13] The members of the Council are collectively known as "The Lords of Her Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Council"[14] (sometimes "The Lords and others of ...").[15] The chief officer of the body is the Lord President of the Council, who is the fourth highest Great Officer of State,[16] a member of the Cabinet, and normally, the Leader of either the House of Lords or the House of Commons.[17] Another important official is the Clerk, whose signature is appended to all orders made in the Council.[18]

Both "Privy Counsellor" and "Privy Councillor" may be correctly used to refer to a member of the Council. The former, however, is preferred by the Privy Council Office,[19] emphasising English usage of the term "Counsellor" as "one who gives counsel", as opposed to "one who is a member of a council." A Privy Counsellor is said to be "sworn of" the Council when he or she first joins it.[20]

The Sovereign may appoint anyone a Privy Counsellor,[21] but in practice appointments are made only on the advice of the Government, and generally consist only of senior members of parliament, the church and judiciary. There is no limit to the numbers sworn in as members.[22] As of August 2008 there are 538 members.[23] However, the members have no right to attend all meetings of the Privy Council, and only some are summoned to each meeting (in practice at the Prime Minister's discretion).

Members include the Church of England's three highest ecclesiastics—the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Archbishop of York[22] and the Bishop of London.[24] Senior members of the Royal Family may also be appointed[22]Prince Philip is a member, the most senior at present in terms of service,[23] and is the only present member not to be appointed by the current monarch, having been appointed to the council by her father. The Private Secretary to the Sovereign is always appointed to the Council.[25]

Several senior judges—justices of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom,[26] judges of the Court of Appeal of England and Wales,[27] judges of the Court of Appeal in Northern Ireland[28] and judges of the Inner House of the Court of Session (the highest court in Scotland)[29]—are also named to the Privy Council.

The bulk of Privy Counsellors, however, are politicians. The Prime Minister, ministers in the cabinet, and the Leader of the Opposition must be sworn to the Privy Council on appointment.[22] Leaders of large parties in the House of Commons,[30] First Ministers of the devolved assemblies,[31] some senior ministers outside the cabinet,[32] and on occasion senior Parliamentarians[33] are appointed Privy Counsellors. As Privy Counsellors are bound by their oath to keep matters discussed at Council meetings secret, the appointment of the leaders of Opposition parties as Privy Counsellors allows the Government to share confidential information with them "on Privy Council terms".[22] This usually only happens in special circumstances, such as in matters of national security. For example, Tony Blair met Leader of the Opposition Iain Duncan Smith and Leader of the Liberal Democrats Charles Kennedy on privy council terms to discuss the evidence for Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.[34]

Although the Privy Council is primarily a British institution, officials from some other Commonwealth realms are also appointed to the body.[22] By 2000, the most notable instance was New Zealand, whose Prime Minister, senior politicians, Chief Justice and Court of Appeal judges were conventionally made Privy Counsellors.[35] However, appointments of New Zealand members have since been discontinued. Until the latter part of the 20th century, the prime ministers and chief justices of Canada and Australia were also appointed to Privy Councellors.[36][37] Prime Ministers of some other Commonwealth countries which retain the Queen as their sovereign continue to be sworn as Privy Counsellors.[22]

Privy Council oath

Although it was formerly regarded by the Privy Council, as certainly a criminal offence, and possibly treason, to disclose the Privy Council oath,[38] in answer to a written parliamentary question to the President of the Council, this was officially published for the first time; 28 July 1998.[39]

The following oath is administered to Privy Counsellors as they take office:

You do swear by Almighty God to be a true and faithful Servant unto the Queen's Majesty, as one of Her Majesty's Privy Council. You will not know or understand of any manner of thing to be attempted, done, or spoken against Her Majesty's Person, Honour, Crown, or Dignity Royal, but you will lett and withstand the same to the uttermost of your Power, and either cause it to be revealed to Her Majesty Herself, or to such of Her Privy Council as shall advertise Her Majesty of the same. You will, in all things to be moved, treated, and debated in Council, faithfully and truly declare your Mind and Opinion, according to your Heart and Conscience; and will keep secret all Matters committed and revealed unto you, or that shall be treated of secretly in Council. And if any of the said Treaties or Counsels shall touch any of the Counsellors, you will not reveal it unto him, but will keep the same until such time as, by the Consent of Her Majesty, or of the Council, Publication shall be made thereof. You will to your uttermost bear Faith and Allegiance unto the Queen's Majesty; and will assist and defend all Jurisdictions, Pre-eminences, and Authorities, granted to Her Majesty, and annexed to the Crown by Acts of Parliament, or otherwise, against all Foreign Princes, Persons, Prelates, States, or Potentates. And generally in all things you will do as a faithful and true Servant ought to do to Her Majesty. So help you God.[40]

Membership ceases upon the dissolution of the Privy Council, which automatically occurs six months after the death of a monarch. (Formerly, until a statute to the contrary was passed during the reign of Anne, the death of a monarch brought an end to the Council immediately.)[41] By convention, however, the Sovereign reappoints all members of the Council after its dissolution;[42] hence, membership is, in practice, for life.[22]

The Sovereign may however remove an individual from the Council, and individuals may choose to resign to avoid expulsion. The last individual to leave the Privy Council voluntarily was Jonathan Aitken, who left on 25 June 1997[43] following allegations of perjury.[44] He was one of only three Privy Counsellors to resign in the twentieth century (the others being John Profumo,[44] who resigned on 26 June 1963,[45] and John Stonehouse,[44] who resigned on 17 August 1976).[45] The last individual to be expelled from the Council against his will was Sir Edgar Speyer, 1st Baronet, who was removed on 13 December 1921[46] for pro-German activities during the First World War.[44]

Meetings

Victoria held her first Privy Council meeting on the day of her accession in 1837.

Meetings of the Privy Council are normally held once each month wherever the Sovereign may be residing at the time.[47] The quorum, according to the Privy Council Office, is three,[48] though some statutes provide for other quorum (for example, section 35 of Opticians Act 1989 (c. 44)[49] provides for a lower quorum of two).

The Sovereign attends the meeting, though his or her place may be taken by two or more Counsellors of State.[50][51] Under the Regency Acts 1937 to 1953,[52] Counsellors of State may be chosen from amongst the Sovereign's spouse and the four individuals next in the line of succession who are over 21 years of age (18 for the Heir to the Throne).[51] Normally the Sovereign remains standing at meetings of the Privy Council, so that no other members may sit down,[19] thereby keeping meetings short. The Lord President reads out a list of Orders to be made, and the Sovereign merely says "Approved."[53]

Only a few privy counsellors attend these regular meetings. The settled practice is that day-to-day meetings of the Council are attended by four privy counsellors, usually the Ministers responsible for the matters being approved.[50] Unless prevented from attending, the Government Minister holding office as Lord President of the Council is usually among the privy counsellors present.[54] Under Britain's modern conventions of parliamentary government and constitutional monarchy, every order made in Council has been drafted by a Government Department and has already been approved by the responsible Ministers—the action taken by the Queen in Council is a mere formality required for the valid adoption of the measure.[50]

Full meetings of the Privy Council are only held when the reigning Sovereign announces his or her own engagement (which last happened on 23 November 1839,[55] in the reign of Queen Victoria); or when there is a Demise of the Crown, either by the death or abdication of the monarch.[34] A full meeting of the Privy Council was also held on 6 February 1811, when George, Prince of Wales, took the oaths upon entering into the execution of the royal authority as Prince Regent, as required by Act of Parliament.[56] The current statutes regulating the establishment of a Regency in the case of minority or incapacity of the Sovereign also require any Regents to take their oaths before the Privy Council.[57]

In the case of a demise of the crown, the Privy Council—together with the Lords Spiritual, the Lords Temporal, the Lord Mayor of the City of London, the Aldermen of the City of London and representatives of Commonwealth nations—makes a proclamation declaring the accession of the new Sovereign and receives an oath from the new monarch relating to the security of the Church of Scotland, as required by law. That special assembly of the Privy Council and others held to proclaim the accession of the new Sovereign and to receive the required statutory oath from the monarch, is known as an Accession Council. The last such meetings were held on 6 February and 8 February 1952. Given that Her present Majesty was abroad when the last Demise of the Crown took place, the Accession Council had to meet twice, once to proclaim the Sovereign (meeting of 6 February 1952), and then, after the new Queen had arrived in Britain, to receive from Her the oath required by statute (meeting of 8 February 1952).[58]

Functions

The Sovereign exercises executive authority by making Orders-in-Council upon the advice of the Privy Council. Orders-in-Council, which are drafted by the government rather than by the Sovereign, are secondary legislation and are used to make government regulations and to make government appointments. Furthermore, Orders-in-Council are used to grant the Royal Assent to laws passed by the legislative authorities of British Crown dependencies.[59]

Distinct from Orders-in-Council are Orders of Council. Whilst the former are made by the Sovereign on the advice of the Privy Council, the latter are made by members of the Privy Council without the participation of the Sovereign. They are issued under the specific authority of Acts of Parliament, and are normally used to regulate public institutions.[59]

The Sovereign, furthermore, issues Royal Charters on the advice of the Privy Council. Charters grant special status to incorporated bodies; they are used to grant city and borough status to towns,[60] and "chartered" status to certain professional or educational bodies. The Privy Council therefore deals with a wide variety of matters, including university statutes,[61] graveyards,[62] coinage, and dates of bank holidays.[47]

The Crown-in-Council also performs certain judicial functions. Within the United Kingdom, the Crown-in-Council hears appeals from ecclesiastical courts, the Court of Admiralty of the Cinque Ports, prize courts and the Disciplinary Committee of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, appeals against schemes of the Church Commissioners and appeals under certain Acts of Parliament (e.g., the House of Commons Disqualification Act 1975).[63] The Crown-in-Council was formerly a supreme court of appeal for the entire British Empire,[64] however a number of Commonwealth countries have now abolished such appeals.[65] The Privy Council does continue to hear appeals from several Commonwealth countries, from British Overseas Territories, Sovereign Base Areas and crown dependencies.[63] The aforementioned cases are theoretically decided by the monarch in Council, but are in practice heard and decided by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council,[66] which consists of senior judges who are Privy Counsellors.[67] The decision of the Committee is presented in the form of "advice" to the monarch, but in practice it is always followed by the Sovereign, who formally approves the recommendation of the Judicial Committee.[68] The Judicial Committee had direct jurisdiction in cases relating to the Scotland Act 1998, the Government of Wales Act 1998 and the Northern Ireland Act 1998, but this was transferred to the new Supreme Court of the United Kingdom in 2009.[67]

Notable orders

In the 1960s, the Privy Council made an order to evict the 2,000 inhabitants of the 65-island Chagos Archipelago in the Indian Ocean, in preparation for the establishment of joint United States-United Kingdom military base on the largest outlying island Diego Garcia, some 60 miles (97 km) distant. In 2000 the High Court ruled the 1971 Immigration Ordinance preventing resettlement unlawful. In 2004, the Privy Council, under Jack Straw's tenure, overturned the ruling. In 2006 the High Court of Justice found the Privy Council's decision to be unlawful. Sir Sydney Kentridge QC described the treatment of the Chagossians as "outrageous, unlawful and a breach of accepted moral standards". He said there was no known precedent "for the lawful use of prerogative powers to remove or exclude an entire population of British subjects from their homes and place of birth".[69][70][71]

The Privy Council banned GCHQ staff from joining a trade union.[72]

The Civil Service Order in Council 1995 allowed Ministers to appoint political advisors with management authority over Her Majesty's Civil Service.[71]

Rights and privileges of members

Although the Privy Council as a whole is "The Most Honourable", individual Privy Counsellors are entitled to the style "The Right Honourable". Peers who are also members of the Privy Council append the post-nominal letters "PC" to indicate membership as they are already entitled to the style "The Right Honourable" (in the case of barons, viscounts and earls) or other higher style (in the case of dukes and marquesses), even when they are not Privy Counsellors. For commoners, on the other hand, "The Right Honourable" is sufficient identification of status as a Privy Counsellor.[35][73] The Earl of Mar and Kellie and the Earl of Scarbrough prefer not to be addressed as 'The Rt Hon' at all on the grounds that the prefix more properly belongs to Privy Counsellors.[74] The Ministry of Justice takes a similar position.[75]

Privy Counsellors are entitled to positions in the order of precedence in England and Wales.[76] At the beginning of each new Parliament, and at the discretion of the Speaker, members of the House of Commons who are Privy Counsellors usually take the oath of allegiance before all other members except the Speaker him or herself and the Father of the House (the most senior member of the House).[77] Often, whenever a Privy Counsellor rose to make a speech in the House of Commons at the same time as another member, the Speaker would first recognise the Privy Counsellor.[78] This informal custom, however, was considered obsolete by 1998.[79]

Also, only Privy Counsellors can present Royal Messages to the Houses of Parliament,[80] and only they can signify, at the monarch's command, the royal consent to the examination of a bill affecting the rights of the Crown.[81]

Privy Counsellors are allowed to sit on the steps to the Sovereign's Throne in the House of Lords Chamber during debates. They share this privilege with hereditary Lords who were members of the House of Lords before the reform of 1999, diocesan bishops of the Church of England (who are not yet Lords Spiritual), retired bishops who formerly sat in the House of Lords, the Dean of Westminster, Peers of Ireland, the eldest child of members of the House of Lords, the Clerk of the Crown in Chancery and the Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod.[82]

Each Privy Counsellor has the individual right of personal access to the Sovereign. Peers are considered to enjoy the same right individually; members of the House of Commons possess the right collectively. In each case, personal access may only be used to tender advice on public affairs.[83]

Other councils

The Privy Council is one of the four principal councils of the Sovereign. The other three are the courts of law, the Commune Concilium (Common Council, or Parliament) and the Magnum Concilium (Great Council, or the assembly of all the Peers of the Realm). All are still in existence, or at least have never been formally abolished, but the Magnum Concilium has not been summoned since 1640 and was considered obsolete then.[83][84]

Several other Privy Councils have advised the Sovereign. England and Scotland (see Privy Council of Scotland) once had separate Privy Councils, but the Acts of Union 1707, which united the two countries into the Kingdom of Great Britain, replaced both with a single body. Ireland, on the other hand, continued to have a separate Privy Council even after the Act of Union 1800. The Privy Council of Ireland was abolished in 1922, when the southern part of Ireland separated from the United Kingdom; it was succeeded by the Privy Council of Northern Ireland, which became dormant after the suspension of the Parliament of Northern Ireland. No further appointments were made, and fewer than ten appointees were alive as of May 2008.[85]

Canada has had its own Privy Council—the Queen's Privy Council for Canada—since 1867.[86] While the Canadian Privy Council is specifically "for Canada", the Privy Council discussed above is not "for the United Kingdom"; in order to clarify the ambiguity where necessary, the latter is referred to as the Imperial Privy Council. Equivalent organs of state in other Commonwealth realms, such as Australia and New Zealand, are called Executive Councils.[87][88]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Dicey, pp6–7
  2. ^ Dicey, p24
  3. ^ Dicey, pp12–14
  4. ^ a b Gay, p2
  5. ^ Maitland, pp262–3
  6. ^ Maitland, p253
  7. ^ Goodnow, p123
  8. ^ Maitland, p256
  9. ^ a b Plant, D (2007). "The Council of State". British Civil Wars, Commonwealth and Protectorate, 1638–60. http://www.british-civil-wars.co.uk/glossary/council-state.htm. Retrieved 11 September 2008.  
  10. ^ Warshaw, p7
  11. ^ Gay, pp2–3
  12. ^ Edited by Edmund Weiner and John Simpson. (1991). The Compact Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary (Second Edition). Oxford University Press. ISBN 0198612583.  
  13. ^ "Legislative Competence Orders" (PDF). Constitutional Quick Guides No. 3. Welsh Assembly. 2007. http://www.assemblywales.org/legislativecompetenceorders.pdf. Retrieved 12 September 2008.  
  14. ^ e.g. "Statutory Instrument 1988 No. 1162". Office of Public Sector Information. http://www.opsi.gov.uk/si/si1988/Uksi_19881162_en_1.htm. Retrieved 11 September 2008.  
  15. ^ e.g. "Statutory Instrument 1999 No. 1379". Office of Public Sector Information. http://www.opsi.gov.uk/si/si1999/19991379.htm. Retrieved 11 September 2008.  
  16. ^ H. Cox, p388
  17. ^ "Departmental Plan 2004/05" (pdf). Privy Council Office. http://www.privy-council.org.uk/files/pdf/Business%20Plan.pdf. Retrieved 11 September 2008.  
  18. ^ Brazier, p199 note 109
  19. ^ a b "Privy Council Office Business FAQ". Privy Council Office. http://www.privy-council.org.uk/output/page503.asp. Retrieved 27 August 2008.  
  20. ^ London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 56070, p. 1, 30 December 2000.
  21. ^ Blackstone, I.174
  22. ^ a b c d e f g h Gay, p3
  23. ^ a b "Privy Council Members". Privy Council Office. http://www.privy-council.org.uk/output/Page76.asp. Retrieved 3 August 2008.  
  24. ^ "Bishop of London". Diocese of London. http://www.london.anglican.org/BishopOfLondon. Retrieved 15 August 2008.  
  25. ^ "Mailbox January 2007". Royal Insight. Royal Household. http://www.royal.gov.uk/output/page5715.asp. Retrieved 11 September 2008.  
  26. ^ Peel, Michael; Croft, Jabe (September 20, 2009). "Privy Council hampers Supreme Court". Financial Times. http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/3c5b14a6-a61d-11de-8c92-00144feabdc0.html.  
  27. ^ "English Judges and the Bar: Court of Appeal and High Court". Forms of address. Ministry of Justice. 2008. http://www.justice.gov.uk/guidance/foa-english-judges-2.htm. Retrieved 15 August 2008.  
  28. ^ "Northern Ireland Judges and the Bar". Forms of address. Ministry of Justice. 2008. http://www.justice.gov.uk/guidance/foa-northern-ireland-judges.htm. Retrieved 15 August 2008.  
  29. ^ "Scottish Judges and the Bar". Forms of address. Ministry of Justice. 2008. http://www.justice.gov.uk/guidance/foa-scottish-judges.htm. Retrieved 15 August 2008.  
  30. ^ e.g. Nicholas Clegg, Leader of the Liberal Democrats "Privy Council Appointment of Nicholas Clegg MP". Prime Minister's Office. 18 January 2008. http://www.number10.gov.uk/Page14291. Retrieved 12 September 2008.  
  31. ^ "Morgan made Privy Counsellor". BBC. 24 July 2000. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/848851.stm. Retrieved 12 September 2008.  
  32. ^ e.g. David Hanson, a Minister of State, "Privy Council Appointment of David Hanson MP". Prime Minister's Office. 20 February 2007. http://www.number10.gov.uk/Page11037. Retrieved 12 September 2008.  
  33. ^ e.g. Jeffrey Donaldson, MP "Privy Council Appointment of Jeffrey Donaldson and Peter Robinson Clegg". Prime Minister's Office. 9 May 2007. http://www.number10.gov.uk/Page11647. Retrieved 12 September 2008.  
  34. ^ a b "So what is the Privy Council?". BBC. 18 February 2003. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/2589087.stm. Retrieved 12 September 2008.  
  35. ^ a b "The title "The Honourable" and the Privy Council". New Zealand Honours. Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. http://www.dpmc.govt.nz/honours/overview/honourable_privycouncil.html. Retrieved 3 August 2008.  
  36. ^ "Order Paper and Notice Paper, 20 October 2000". Senate of Canada. 2000. http://www.parl.gc.ca/36/2/parlbus/chambus/senate/orderpaper/ord-e.htm. Retrieved 12 September 2008.  
  37. ^ "Commonwealth Judges". Forms of address. Ministry of Justice. 2008. http://www.justice.gov.uk/guidance/foa-com-judges.htm. Retrieved 12 September 2008.  
  38. ^ Roy Hattersley PC: Thursday December 14, 2000: “Quoting those words from the privy council's oath is certainly an offence and possibly treason.
  39. ^ HC Deb 28 July 1998 Vol 387 c 182W: RESEARCH PAPER 00/17.
  40. ^ "HC Hansard Vol 317 Col 182". Hansard. Parliament of the United Kingdom. 28 July 1998. http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm199798/cmhansrd/vo980728/text/80728w22.htm#80728w22.html_sbhd8. Retrieved 14 July 2008.  
  41. ^ Blackstone, I.176
  42. ^ H. Cox, p389
  43. ^ Rayment, Leigh (10 September 2008). "PRIVY COUNSELLORS 1969 - present". http://www.leighrayment.com/pcouncil/pcouncil4.htm. Retrieved 17 September 2008. "Jonathan William Patrick Aitken (resigned 25 June 1997)"  
  44. ^ a b c d Staff reporter (1997). "Queen Accepts Aitken's Resignation". British Broadcasting Corporation. http://www.bbc.co.uk/politics97/news/06/0626/aitken.shtml. Retrieved 12 February 2008. "The Queen has accepted Jonathan Aitken's resignation from the Privy Council. [...] Two former disgraced ministers, John Profumo and John Stonehouse, have also resigned from the Council, but no one has been thrown off since 1921 when Sir Edgar Speyer was struck off for collaborating with the Germans in the First World War."  
  45. ^ a b Rayment, Leigh (2 April 2008). "PRIVY COUNSELLORS 1915 - 1968". http://www.leighrayment.com/pcouncil/pcouncil3.htm. Retrieved 17 September 2008. "John Dennis Profumo (resigned 26 Jun 1963) [...] John Thomson Stonehouse (resigned 17 Aug 1976)"  
  46. ^ Rayment, Leigh (1 April 2008). "PRIVY COUNSELLORS 1836 - 1914". http://www.leighrayment.com/pcouncil/pcouncil2.htm. Retrieved 17 September 2008. "Sir Edgar Speyer (struck off 13 Dec 1921)"  
  47. ^ a b "Queen and Privy Council". Monarchy Today. Royal Household. http://www.royal.gov.uk/output/page4693.asp. Retrieved 3 August 2008.  
  48. ^ http://www.privy-council.org.uk/OutPut/Page503.asp
  49. ^ http://www.statutelaw.gov.uk/content.aspx?LegType=All+Legislation&searchEnacted=0&extentMatchOnly=0&confersPower=0&blanketAmendment=0&sortAlpha=0&PageNumber=0&NavFrom=0&parentActiveTextDocId=1351232&ActiveTextDocId=1351279&filesize=1277
  50. ^ a b c Gay, p4
  51. ^ a b "Counsellors of State". Monarchy Today. Royal Household. http://www.royal.gov.uk/output/page4694.asp. Retrieved 3 August 2008.  
  52. ^ London Gazette: no. 48172, p. 6361, 29 April 1980.
  53. ^ Brazier, p199
  54. ^ "Role and Responsibilities". Privy Council Office. http://www.privy-council.org.uk/output/Page499.asp. Retrieved 31 August 2008.  
  55. ^ The Times, 25 November 1839, p5
  56. ^ http://www.london-gazette.co.uk/issues/16450/pages/221
  57. ^ Regency Act 1937, Sect. 2.2 and 4.1
  58. ^ The Times, 7 February 1952, p6; The Times, 8 February 1952, p6
  59. ^ a b House of Commons Information Office (May 2008) (pdf). Statutory Instruments. Fact Sheet No.L7 Ed 3.9. ISSN 0144-4689. http://www.parliament.uk/documents/upload/L07.pdf. Retrieved 3 August 2008.  
  60. ^ "Royal Charter". Privy Council Office. http://www.privy-council.org.uk/output/page26.asp. Retrieved 30 August 2008.  
  61. ^ Gay, p5
  62. ^ H. Cox, p393
  63. ^ a b "Jurisdiction". Privy Council Office. http://www.privy-council.org.uk/output/Page32.asp. Retrieved 15 August 2008.  
  64. ^ Iwi, p128
  65. ^ N. Cox, Abolition or Retention of the Privy Council, Sect. 11
  66. ^ N. Cox, Abolition or Retention of the Privy Council, Sect. 2
  67. ^ a b Gay, p6
  68. ^ Maitland, p463
  69. ^ Secretary of State for the Foreign & Commonwealth Affairs v Bancoult, R (on the application of) 2007 EWCA Civ 498 (23 May 2007)
  70. ^ BBC - Court victory for Chagos families, 11 May 2006
  71. ^ a b BBC Radio 4 - What's the Point of ... The Privy Council, 12 May 2009
  72. ^ http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/8046523.stm
  73. ^ "What does Right Honourable mean?". UK in USA. Foreign and Commonwealth Office. 2007. http://ukinusa.fco.gov.uk/en/faqs/knighthood-honours/right-honourable. Retrieved 11 September 2008.  
  74. ^ "British titles—Earl". Burke's Peerage. http://www.burkes-peerage.net/articles/peerage/page66-earl.aspx. Retrieved 11 September 2008.  
  75. ^ "Peers". Forms of address. Ministry of Justice. 2008. http://www.justice.gov.uk/guidance/foa-peers.htm. Retrieved 11 September 2008.  
  76. ^ Blackstone, I.318
  77. ^ Walker, A; Wood, E (14 February 2000). "The Parliamentary Oath" (pdf). Research Paper 00/17. House of Commons Library. http://www.parliament.uk/commons/lib/research/rp2000/rp00-017.pdf. Retrieved 8 September 2008.  
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  79. ^ "Modernisation of the House of Commons - Fourth Report". Modernisation of the House of Commons Select Committee. 4 March 1998. http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm199798/cmselect/cmmodern/600iv/md0404.htm. Retrieved 8 September 2008.  
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  82. ^ Hayter, Sect. 1.37
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References

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Simple English

Her Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Council is a group of advisors to the British Monarch. A lot of its most important work is done by two committees,

  • The Cabinet. All cabinet ministers are made Privy Councillors (or Privy Counsellors), as are other important politicians, such as the leaders of the big political parties.
  • Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. The most senior judges in England and Wales sit on this committee

Some laws need to be made by the "Queen-in-Council", that is at a meeting of the Queen and the Privy Council. Some jobs are filled by the Queen in Council too. For example when the Queen appoints a new Bishop or Lord Lieutenant she announces her choice at a meeting of the Privy Council.

Contents

Meetings of the Privy Council

Once someone is made a member of the Privy Council they are a member for life, but only members of the government are asked to meetings, except for special occasions such as when a new monarch takes the "Accession Oath", a promise to do their best, at a meeting when the Privy Council called the Accession Council [1]

In the past some kings and queens were bored by long meetings of the Privy Council, so they made everyone stand instead of sitting comfortably. The tradition carries on today.

Privy Council Terms

Sometimes the Prime Minister shares information with other politicians on Privy Council Terms. This means that the information must stay secret.

Judicial Committee of the Privy Council

The Law Lords, and retired Law Lords, also form the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. It is the final court of appeal from British colonies an dependent territories, and some commonwealth realms. These countries call it an appeal to The Queen in Council.

The Commonwealth Realms

The Overseas dependent Territories

Republics in the Commonwealth

Four republics in the commonwealth also use the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council as a court of appeal.

Brunei

From the Court of Appeal of Brunei the only appeal is to the Sultan of Brunei. The Queen and the Sultan have agreed that the cases are heard by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council who then advise the Sultan, directly.

Domestic Jurisdiction

The committee hears Appeals to Her Majesty in Council:

  • from the Disciplinary Committee of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons;
  • against some plans of the Church Commissioners.
  • A law officer refers a Bill, directly to the committee.
  • Devolution issues can be referred to the Judicial Committee by -
  • any court or tribunal, if required to do so by the appropriate Law Officer.
  • A Law Officer refers "devolution issues" that are not about current bills.

Very rarely the Committee hears:

  • Appeals from the Church of England's Court of Arches of Canterbury and the Chancery Court of York.
  • Appeals from Prize Courts,which hear the value of ships and their cargo.
  • Disputes under the House of Commons Disqualification Act, about whether someone is allowed to be a Member of Parliament
  • Appeals from the Court of Admiralty of the Cinque Ports.

The committee must also report to the Queen about anything she ask. For example investigating which members of the House of Lords supported the enemy in World War I[2].

References

  1. "The London Gazette of 6 February 1952". http://www.gazettes-online.co.uk/archiveViewFrameSetup.asp?webtype=0&IssueNumber=39463&pageNumber=1&SearchFor=Oath&PageDuplicate=x0&selMedalType=&selHonourType=. Retrieved 2 September 2007. 
  2. Fitzroy, Almeric (28 March 1919). "The Titles Deprivation Act, 1917". The London Gazette (HMSO) (31255): 2. http://www.gazettes-online.co.uk/archiveViewFrameSetup.asp?webtype=0&IssueNumber=31255&pageNumber=2&SearchFor=almeric%20fitzroy&PageDuplicate=n&selMedalType=&selHonourType=. Retrieved 02 September 2007. 


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