Monday, December 7, 2009

Bill of Rights 1689

After defeating James II in 5 November 1688 and before they were affirmed as co-rulers of England and Ireland, William of Orange & Mary accepted a Declaration of Right onFebruary 13, 1689.
They were then crowned as joint monarchs in April 1689.
The Declaration of Right was later embodied in an Act of Parliament, now known as the Bill of Rights, onDecember 16, 1689.

The basic tenets (definition: possessions/holdings in virtue of the title) of the Bill of Rights 1689 are:
  • All Englishmen (embodied by parliament) had certain immutable civil and political rights including:
  • The King was forbidden to create his own courts or act as judge in order to interfere with laws
  • Royal taxation without agreement by Parliament was forbidden.
  • All men had the freedom to petition the Monarch,
  • Freedom from a peace-time standing army, without agreement by Parliament
  • freedom [for Protestants] to have arms for their defence, suitable to their class status and as allowed by law
  • Freedom to elect members of Parliament without interference from the Sovereign
  • Freedom of speech in Parliament, in that proceedings in Parliament were not to be questioned in the courts or in any body outside Parliament itself (the basis of modern parliamentary privilege)
  • Freedom from cruel and unusual punishments, and excessive bail
  • Freedom from fines and forfeitures without trial

NOTE: It is very important to note that while this document is still in use in many countries, the Australian government have stated clearly that the Bill of Rights 1688 is no longer relevant to Australian law. Yet Federal Government used it as late as 1995 to protect any government minister from being impeached for anything that is said on the floor of Parliament. This was well after their original statements that it was no longer relevant in Australia.

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