HL Deb 20 July 1988 vol 499 cc1299-301
The Lord Privy Seal (Lord Belstead)

My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now proceed to Westminster Hall for the purpose of presenting the humble Address which the House ordered on Thursday, 7th July to be presented to Her Majesty; and that thereafter the House do adjourn during pleasure and do meet again in this Chamber at half-past two of the clock.

Moved, That the House do now proceed to Westminster Hall for the purpose of presenting the humble Address which the House ordered on Thursday, 7th July to be presented to Her Majesty; and that thereafter the House do adjourn during pleasure and do meet again in this Chamber at half-past two of the clock.—(Lord Belstead.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Whereupon the House proceeded to Westminster Hall, the Lord Chancellor (Lord Mackay of Clashfern) being accompanied by Presiding Officers of the Upper Houses of Commonwealth Parliaments.

And the Lord Chancellor there presented to Her Majesty the humble Address from the House of Lords in accordance with the Resolution of Thursday, 7th July.

The Address from the House of Lords was as follows:

"Most Gracious Sovereign,

"We, the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, welcome this occasion to commemorate and celebrate with Your Majesty and with Members of the House of Commons the anniversary of the Glorious Revolution of 1688 and the occasion on which the Prince and Princess of Orange were declared Joint Sovereigns of these Islands. By their acceptance of the Declaration of Rights, presented to them on the 13th of February 1689 in the Banqueting House in Whitehall, subsequently enacted by the Bill of Rights; and by their assent to the Claim of Right of Scotland, their late Majesties King William and Queen Mary concluded a solemn compact with their people; thereby were vindicated and asserted the ancient rights and liberties of the dutiful and loyal subjects of Your Majesty's predecessors.

"In consequence of this deliverance from arbitrary power and affirmation of the people's rights, this nation has, since 1688, enjoyed security under a constitutional monarchy. The experience of three hundred years has shown that it is the Crown in Parliament which guarantees the liberty of the subject and upholds the rule of law. Our Parliament, consisting of Crown, Lords and Commons, has proved enduring and has provided an example to those nations overseas which have chosen to regulate their affairs in freedom by means of parliamentary government. Since that time, Your Majesty's Royal Predecessors have adhered to the spirit underlying the Coronation Oath taken by his late Majesty King William to govern according to the statutes in Parliament agreed upon, and the laws and customs of the same, and have thereby made it possible for parliamentary and democratic government to evolve within Parliament without interruption and without recourse to violent revolution. For this we give thanks to Almighty God and we pray that we and those who come after us may continue to enjoy for many years the blessing of freedom under the law safeguarded by the protection of the Crown."

The Lord Chancellor then spoke as follows:

"May it please your Majesty,

"We are gathered in this ancient Hall today to celebrate a major turning point in our constitutional history; when a new relationship was created between Your Majesty's Royal predecessors and their subjects and which has developed and flourished into what we are proud to call our 'constitutional monarchy'.

"We should recall for a moment that it was in this Hall 23 years ago that we commemorated the first stage in the evolution of our parliamentary institutions: the Parliament of Simon de Montfort in 1265. In the centuries that followed, that forum of prelates and magnates together with representatives of the shires, cities and boroughs became two distinct Houses of Parliament. But Parliament was an irregular institution, sometimes fêted by the monarch, sometimes scorned; and the tension between the two finally erupted into civil war.

"Today it is our great honour to commemorate with Your Majesty the events 40 years after that conflict which brought about the peaceful union of Crown and Parliament. Parliament renewed its allegiance to the Crown confident that the Crown would protect Parliament's declared freedoms. In due course the Crown was to be above, but not of, government; and under the Crown's protection parliamentary democracy could evolve by reforms of Parliament itself and not by violent overthrow of the state.

"This voluntary linking of the Crown and Parliament found expression in the two statutes which underpin these cherished freedoms; for the Bill of Rights and the Claim of Right wrote into our law many of the rights and freedoms which we enjoy today and which have had such a lasting influence beyond these shores.

"So it is singularly appropriate that we share this celebration of the events of 1688 and 1689 with our distinguished guests from overseas. From that time a lasting alliance was secured between this country and the Netherlands and it is our great pleasure today to welcome His Royal Highness Crown Prince William and the Presidents of the two chambers of the States General of the Netherlands as living symbols of the close link between our two countries.

"From the Bill of Rights itself derived the concept of individual rights which came to be embodied in constitutions around the world, notably in North America. As witnesses to this common heritage we welcome our distinguished guests from the College of William and Mary, Virginia, recalling that the State of Virginia drew upon our Bill of Rights for its own Declaration of 1776. This in turn provided a model for the Bill of Rights of the United States of America.

"The example of our parliamentary system has been followed in many countries, most notably in those which recognise Your Majesty as Head of the Commonwealth. It is therefore most fitting that on the opening of the Ninth Conference of Commonwealth Speakers we should have with us the Presiding Officers and Speakers of Your Majesty's Commonwealth Parliaments, to whom we offer a hearty welcome. Together we can reaffirm our loyalty to Your Majesty and renew our commitment to the principles of freedom under the law that guided our forebears, and continue to guide us."

Then Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Commons (also assembled in the Hall), presented to Her Majesty an Address from that House.

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