Wednesday 6 May 2020

On the Calling Together and the Dispersing of a Parliament — II. First Meetings and the Oaths

In part I we saw how one Parliament is put out of existence and another summoned. Here, we will consider the procedures for assembling that Parliament and the amazingly complex history of the taking of the Oath of Allegiance.

It is once again... long... And I hope you like oaths, because there are more than you can possibly imagine.

The Meeting of the New Parliament

On the day appointed in the proclamation, both Houses assemble in their respective Chambers. In the Commons, the Clerk of the Crown in Chancery [63] presents to the Clerk of the House [64] the 'white book' containing, in theory, the bound volume of all those now endorsed and returned writs of election. In practice it is more of a 'box' at this stage and is bound up later.

The Votes and Proceedings then record it thusly, [65]
1. Meeting of the House 
The House met on the first day of this Parliament, pursuant to Proclamation. 
John Benger, Clerk of the House of Commons, Sarah Davies, Clerk Assistant, and Colin Lee, Principal Clerk of the Table Office, attended in the House, and the other Clerks attended, according to their duty. 
Sir Richard Heaton, Clerk of the Crown in Chancery in Great Britain, delivered to the said Sarah Davies a book containing a list of the names of the Members returned to serve in this Parliament. 
Sir Peter Bottomley took the Chair (Standing Order No. 1).
At the end we see the Father of the House taking the chair since no Speaker has yet been elected, though he sits at the Clerk's place at the Table. This was not always the case, before the advent of the modern Standing Order No. 1 the Clerk of the House was a sort of quasi-chair, but in a contested election for Speaker this all broke down and the modern practice was adopted, as we shall see momentarily.

Meanwhile, in the Lords, the Lord Speaker (in not so olden times, the Lord Chancellor) has entered and sat on the Woolsack, and the Leader of the House, here the Lord Privy Seal, announces that it is not actually convenient for Her Majesty to come today to get this Parliament in motion, [66]
My Lords, it not being convenient for Her Majesty personally to be present here this day, she has been pleased to cause a Commission under the Great Seal to be prepared in order to the holding of this Parliament.
She, and the rest of the Commissioners then retire to robe, and return and sit on a small bench in front of the Throne. And then says to Black Rod, this strangely not being recorded in Hansard "Let the Commons know that the Lords Commissioners desire their immediate attendance in this House to hear the Commission read".

Black Rod then collects the Commons with the usual door slamming.

The Commons have ambled up to the Bar of the House of Lords, the most senior member of the Royal Commission directs the Reading Clerk to read the Letters Patent, [66]
My Lords and Members of the House of Commons, we are commanded by Her Majesty to let you know that, it not being convenient for her to be present here this day in her Royal Person, she hath thought fit, by Letters Patent under the Great Seal, to empower several Lords therein named to do all things in Her Majesty’s name, which are to be done on Her Majesty’s part in this Parliament as, by the Letters Patent, will more fully appear.
Which whilst not recorded in the Journals any more, can be reconstructed by taking the even more prolix older versions and adjusting them accordingly. As earlier, all line breaks are artificial to make this easier to follow, and with no apologies for the length, [67]
Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of Our other Realms and Territories, Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith:  
To all to whom these Presents shall come, Greeting:  
Whereas, by the Advice of Our Council, for certain arduous and urgent Affairs concerning Us, the State and Defence of Our United Kingdom of [68], and the Church, We have ordered a certain Parliament to be holden at our City of Westminster, on Tuesday the Seventeenth Day of December instant:  
And for as much as for divers causes and considerations We cannot conveniently be present in Our Royal Person in Our said Parliament on the said Twenty-sixth Day of October instant; Know ye, that We, trusting in the Discretion, Fidelity, and Care of [69]  
The Most Reverend Father in God and Our faithful Counsellor Justine Portal by Divine Providence Lord Archbishop of Canterbury Primate of All England and Metropolitan and Our trusty and well beloved Counsellor Robert Buckland Chancellor of Great Britain and others our counsellors mentioned, [70] 
by the Advice of Our said Council, do give and grant, by the Tenor of these Presents unto the said  
Most Reverend Father in God and Our faithful Counsellor Justine Portal by Divine Providence Lord Archbishop of Canterbury Primate of All England and Metropolitan, Our trusty and well beloved Counsellor Robert Buckland Chancellor of Great Britain, Peter Norman Lord Fowler, Lord Speaker, Natalie Baroness Evans of Bowes Park Lord Privy Seal, Richard Mark Lord Newby, Igor Lord Judge, and Angela Evans Baroness Smith of Basildon [71] 
or any Three of them, full Power, in Our Name, to begin and hold Our said Parliament, and to open and declare, and cause to be opened and declared, the Causes of holding the same, and to proceed upon the said Affairs in Our said Parliament, and in all Matters arising therein, and to do every thing which for Us and by Us, for the good Government of Our said United Kingdom [68], and other Our Dominions thereto belonging, shall be there to be done;  
and also, if necessary, to continue, adjourn and prorogue Our said Parliament:
Commanding also, by the Tenor of these Presents, with the Assent of Our said Council, as well all and every the Archbishops, Bishops Lords [72] and Knights, as all others whom it concerns, to meet in Our said Parliament, that to the said Archbishop of Canterbury and Chancellor of Great Britain [73] and others our councillors aforesaid and any Three of them, they diligently intend in the Premises, in the Form aforesaid.  
Witness Ourself at Westminster, the Seventeenth Day of December, in the Sixty-Eight Year of Our Reign. 
By The Queen Herself, signed with Her own Hand.
Phew. Long Commission — I don't envy the Reading Clerk!

The senior Commissioner, who in 2019 was again the Lord Privy Seal, then tells the Commons to go away and elect a Speaker and to present him (or her) tomorrow for Her Majesty's approval [66]
My Lords and Members of the House of Commons, we have it in command from Her Majesty to let you know that, as soon as the Members of both Houses shall be sworn, the causes of Her Majesty calling this Parliament will be declared to you; and, it being necessary that a Speaker of the House of Commons should be first chosen, it is Her Majesty’s pleasure that you, Members of the House of Commons, repair to the place where you are to sit, and there proceed to the choice of some proper person to be your Speaker, and that you present such person whom you shall so choose here for Her Majesty’s Royal Approbation.
Looking back to the Commission, a few things stand out — at least to me. Firstly the phrase
Us the State and Defence of Our United Kingdom of, and the Church
one might recall from the Writs of Summons of Peers, which contain
affairs concerning Us the state and defence of Our United Kingdom and Church
which is essentially identical. Similar phrases occur in other places too — in many ways this sentence is the generic summary of why any Parliament might be summoned. Either it is to make provision for the Crown (financial provision, that is), for the 'defence' of the realm (which here operates more like the phrase 'peace order and good governance' found in many former colonial and dominion constitutions), or for the Church (which at the time Parliamentary government was becoming normalised in England, was quite the 'hot-topic', after all!).

by the Advice of Our said Council
like the dissolution and summoning of a Parliament, the opening of a Parliament is a prerogative power on which the Privy Council nominally advise. Of course, in practice it is the Prime Minister that does. No Order-in-Council is made for these Letters Patent, however, one assumes because they are a necessary consequence of the Order-in-Council ordering the writs be issued.
to open and declare, and cause to be opened and declared, the Causes of holding the same
This would seem to imply (and looking in the journals from the 17th and 18th centuries it is hard to find an exact example of this) that no further Commission would be necessary if the first Queen's Speech of a Parliament was to be by Commission too. However,
if necessary, to continue, adjourn and prorogue Our said Parliament
is curious, for when a Parliament was immediately prorogued on its opening, which as we will see in Part III was a surprisingly common occurrence once, a specific writ was issued authorising this. Finally, in
By The Queen Herself, signed with Her own Hand
we see a line that also occurs in the Letters Patent for Prorogations, Royal Assents, Royal Approbations, and no where else. All other Letters Patent are either
By Warrant under the Queen's Sign Manual
By the Queen Herself
(the latter meaning that the Patent was prepared by a so-called 'immediate warrant'). The phrasing in these Letters Patent, however, indicates that in addition to the Great Seal of the Realm, Her Majesty has Herself subscribed the Patent.

The Election of the Speaker

Lord Speakers are elected as and when a vacancy arises or when their term expires, so are outwith our scope. And of course, before the creation of the post, the Lord Chancellor was Speaker of the Lords and was obviously not elected at all.

But the Commons have elected — not always totally freely — their Speaker since 1376 [74]. Between then and 1971 there was no concept of an "Acting" Speaker, instead the Clerk of the House acted as a sort of quasi-Speaker for the election. In addition, until 2001, the election was not an election at all, but a motion to appoint a particular individual, followed if desired by a series of amendments to leave out the instant name and insert another.

When the election was either uncontested or only weakly contested this arrangement worked well. There was a significant limitation in the powers of the Clerk, being that he had no power to speak in the House to control members, so could only select a member to speak by "standing up, point[ing] to him and then [sitting] down" (as Hansard would record it [75]).

In 1971, it was decided that the Father of the House would be the "Speaker" until one was elected, thus solving this problem. However, the farcical nature of the election of a successor to Speaker Boothroyd in 2000 necessitated further changes. Now, the House votes in a series of secret paper ballots, where the candidate coming last, any candidate securing less than one-twentieth of the votes [76], and any candidate who withdraws being eliminated from subsequent rounds, until a candidate secures more than half the votes cast.

The question is then put, as in November 2019, that, [77]
Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 1B(13)), That Sir Lindsay Hoyle do take the Chair of this House as Speaker. 
Question agreed to. 
Resolved, That Sir Lindsay Hoyle do take the Chair as Speaker. 
Mr Kenneth Clarke left the Chair.
(this, strictly, was an election for a Speaker mid-way through the session; the minor differences this entails will be discussed below)

Then, a very old tradition is followed. In years past, a few Speakers when delivering bad news to their Monarch came off a little shorter than before (or met other unpleasant circumstances). Consequently, it is tradition now for the newly elected Speaker to feign reluctance and to be dragged to the Chair by the members who proposed him, as Sir Lindsay was, [77]
Sir Lindsay Hoyle was taken out of his place and conducted to the Chair by Jackie Doyle-Price, Mr Nigel Evans and Caroline Flint.
The Speaker-Elect then thanks the House, [77]
Sir Lindsay Hoyle, standing on the upper step, expressed his respectful and humble acknowledgement to the House of the great honour the House had been pleased to confer upon him, and sat down in the Chair.
And now that the House is properly constituted, the Mace which has hitherto sat under the Table like when the House is in Committee, is returned to its proper place, and the leaders of the main parties congratulate the Speaker elect, [77]
The Mace was placed upon the Table. 
The Prime Minister, Jeremy Corbyn, Patrick Grady, Jo Swinson and Nigel Dodds congratulated the Speaker Elect.
Before we consider Her Majesty's Approbation we need to note the slight differences at the start of a Parliament. Where the previous Speaker was not returned to Parliament (for whatever reason, but as "The Speaker Seeking Re-Election" is customarily unopposed by the major parties, retirement is the only likely reason) the procedure as above would be followed. But where, as in December 2019, the Speaker was returned, instead the Father of the House simply ascertains if he desires to be re-elected, and if so, the House proceeds to vote on the resolution that he takes the chair [78], viz. [79]
4. Re-election of former Speaker 
Sir Peter Bottomley inquired whether Sir Lindsay Hoyle, as the Member who was Speaker at the dissolution of the previous Parliament, was willing to be chosen as Speaker (Standing Order No. 1A). 
Sir Lindsay Hoyle stood up in his place, indicated that he was willing to be so chosen, and submitted himself to the House. 
Motion made, That Sir Lindsay Hoyle do take the Chair of this House as Speaker.—(Lisa Nandy.) 
Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 1A) and agreed to. 
Sir Peter Bottomley left the Chair.
A curious quirk of any day on which the House meets to elect a Speaker, whether at the start of a session or within it, is that prayers are not said.

Royal Approbation

Approbation is cognate with approval, and is the necessary step which transforms the Speaker-Elect into the Speaker. While in theory Her Majesty could give this in person, nowadays it is invariably done by the Royal Commissioners. At the start of the Parliament this is pursuant to the same Commission given for opening the Parliament. For a mid-session vacancy, a bespoke Commission is instead given.

Normally, at the start of a Parliament this occurs the day after the Speaker is elected. However, in the unusual circumstances of December 2019 it occurred on the same day. In either case, a government minister or whip, now often but not invariably the Prime Minister, needs to inform the House when Her Majesty's Commissioners will be ready to receive the Speaker-Elect. On December 17th, it was Iain Stewart [80]
I have to signify to the House the pleasure of Her Majesty that the House should present their Speaker this day at 3.45 pm in the House of Peers for Her Majesty’s Royal Approbation.
At the appointed time, Black Rod once again heads down to the Commons, has the door slammed in her face, and knocks, and summons them, this time with the words,
Mr. Speaker-Elect, the Lords who are authorised by Her Majesty's Commission desire the immediate attendance of this Honourable House, in the House of Peers.
And once again, the House ambles up to the Bar of the House of Lords.

There, the Speaker-Elect addresses the Lords Commissioners and informs them that Commons have elected him, [82]
Then, the Commons being at the Bar, Mr Speaker-Elect (Sir Lindsay Hoyle), addressing the Royal Commissioners, said: 
My Lords, I have to acquaint your Lordships that Her Majesty’s faithful Commons, in obedience to the Royal Command, have, in the exercise of their undoubted rights and privileges, proceeded to the election of a Speaker, and that their choice has fallen on me. I therefore present myself at your Lordships’ Bar and submit myself with all humility for Her Majesty’s gracious Approbation.
And the senior Lord Commissioner, in this case the Lord Privy Seal, replies, giving the Approbation,
Sir Lindsay, we are commanded to assure you that Her Majesty is so fully sensible of your zeal in the public service, and of your ample sufficiency to execute the arduous duties which her faithful Commons have selected you to discharge, that Her Majesty does most readily approve and confirm you as their Speaker.
There then follows one final exchange between the now confirmed Speaker and the Lords Commissioners. Except that Sir Lindsay was given the wrong card in December 2019 and omitted a key part, so we will now turn to June 2017 for the "correct" version (and will see the cause of what happened in 2019 momentarily too), [83]
The Speaker of the House of Commons said:  
My Lords, I submit myself with all humility and gratitude to Her Majesty’s gracious Commands. It is now my duty, in the name of and on behalf of the Commons of the United Kingdom, to lay claim, by humble petition to Her Majesty, to all their ancient and undoubted rights and privileges, especially to freedom of speech in debate, to freedom from arrest, and to free access to Her Majesty whenever occasion shall arise, and that the most favourable construction shall be put upon all their proceedings. With regard to myself, I pray that, if in the discharge of my duties I shall inadvertently fall into any error, it may be imputed to myself alone, and not to Her Majesty’s most faithful Commons.

Baroness Evans of Bowes Park: 
Mr Speaker, we have it further in Command to inform you that Her Majesty does most readily confirm all the rights and privileges which have ever been granted to or conferred upon the Commons by Her Majesty or any of her Royal predecessors. With respect to yourself, Sir, though Her Majesty is sensible that you stand in no need of such assurance, Her Majesty will ever place the most favourable construction upon your words and actions. 
Mr. Speaker and the Commons then retired.
Here, Mr. Speaker is doing two things. Firstly he confirms the Commons' right to free speech (now confirmed also in Article IX of the Bill of Rights [84]), to freedom from (civil) arrest, and as a body (Peers posses this right individually) to access to the Queen to present their grievances. This is only done once at the start of each Parliament, and it is here that Sir Lindsay erred. At a mid-session election this sentence, and the corresponding part of the Lord Privy Seal's reply, is omitted.

Secondly, the Speaker requests that the Lords Commissioners confirm that the Commons as a body will not be blamed for his errors. The Lord Privy Seal then essentially replies that the Queen is convinced he wont err anyway!

Before this, the Lords had already begun swearing in. The Commons, now fully assembled, can do likewise. This creates the odd situation that MPs, like those in Sinn Fein, who do not take the oath, could in theory participate in the election for the Speaker (though, before 1831, as we shall see, this was not quite so...). [85]

The Oath of Allegiance

By virtue of section 2 of the Promissory Oaths Act 1868 [86], as applied by sections 8 and 14 thereof [87]  and as modified by section 1 of the Oaths Act 1978 [88], the Oath of Allegiance taken by MPs and Peers is
I do swear by almighty God that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II [89], her heirs and successors, according to law. So help me God.
As originally provided for by the Oaths Act 1888 [90], and now by section 5 of the Oaths Act 1978, this can instead be taken as a Solemn Affirmation, in the form
I do solemnly, sincerely and truly declare and affirm that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II [89], her heirs and successors, according to law.
As to the manner of taking the oath, this too is provided for by the Oaths Act 1978. Section 1(1) requires that,
The person taking the oath shall hold the New Testament, or, in the case of a Jew, the Old Testament, in his uplifted hand
And then at section 1(3),
In the case of a person who is neither a Christian nor a Jew, the oath shall be administered in any lawful manner.
In one of the Despatch Boxes in each House a collection of religious texts is therefore kept for this purpose. Alternatively, the method provided for at section 3 could be used, viz.
If any person to whom an oath is administered desires to swear with uplifted hand, in the form and manner in which an oath is usually administered in Scotland, he shall be permitted so to do, and the oath shall be administered to him in such form and manner without further question
And just in case, section 4(2) provides that
Where an oath has been duly administered and taken, the fact that the person to whom it was administered had, at the time of taking it, no religious belief, shall not for any purpose affect the validity of the oath.
After taking the oath, the MP in question then signs the Test Roll, so named for its connection with the old Test Acts (keep reading!). Peers, in addition to signing the roll, also sign an undertaking to abide by the Code of Conduct.

An MP who sits or votes without taking the oath automatically vacates their seat, so this is of prime importance. In addition, an MP or Peer who so sits or votes is liable to be fined. Further, MPs are not paid a salary until they swear in.

In a normal Parliament, this process continues for a few days. In December 2019 it was telescoped into two, with stragglers mopped up the next week.

Oaths of Allegiance Before 1701 (ish)

The content of the Oath of Allegiance as we know it was only settled in 1868. Fair warning — almost all the forms of the oath were exceptionally prolix before this time. In addition, I am not entirely sure the interaction of all that follows is correct, such is the risk of trying to make sense of interacting old statutes.

The Parliamentary Oaths Act 1866 (only two years prior) defined the Oath of Allegiance to be
I A. B. do swear that I will be faithful and bear true Allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Victoria; and I do faithfully promise to maintain and support the Succession to the Crown, as the same stands limited and settled by virtue of the Act passed in the Reign of King William the Third, intituled "An Act for the further Limitation of the Crown, and better securing the Eights and Liberties of the Subject," and of the subsequent Acts of Union with Scotland and Ireland. So help me GOD.
This replaced differing oaths, for religious reasons, for Roman Catholics (via section 2 of the Roman Catholic Relief Act 1829 [90]) for Jews (via section 1 of the Jews Relief Act 1858 [91]) and consolidated the affirmation authorised for Quakers by 22° Vict. cap. 10 [92].

In addition, it replaced the triplicate set of an Oath of Allegiance, the Assurance, and the Oath of Abjuration with one single oath. The full evolution of this begins with, perhaps unsurprisingly, the Oath of Supremacy under Henry VIII's Act of Supremacy [93], which, as later re-enacted as Elizabeth I's Act of Supremacy [94], provided for the Oath of Supremacy to be
I, A. B., do utterly testify and declare in my conscience that the queen's highness is the only supreme governor of this realm and of all other her highness's dominions and countries, as well in all spiritual or ecclesiastical things or causes as temporal, and that no foreign prince, person, prelate, state, or potentate hath or ought to have any jurisdiction, power, superiority, pre-eminence, or authority, ecclesiastical or spiritual, within this realm; and therefore I do utterly renounce and forsake all foreign jurisdictions, powers, superiorities, and authorities, and do promise that from henceforth I shall bear faith and true allegiance to the queen's highness, her heirs, and lawful successors, and to my power shall assist and defend all jurisdictions, pre-eminences, privileges, and authorities granted or belonging to the queen's highness, her heirs, and successors, or united or annexed to the imperial crown of this realm: so help me God and by the contents of this Book.

By the Act 30° Car. 2. stat. 2. cap. 1. [95] the first of the religious tests were added. This Act also required the Oaths of Allegiance and Supremacy, and the new religious test, to be sworn in the manner we are now used to — that is, at the Table of the House, with the House assembled, etc. — before MPs and Peers could sit (see the final paragraph of section 1). The test, in the Act called the declaration, itself was
I A. B. doe solemnely and sincerely in the presence of God professe testifie and declare That I doe believe that in the Sacrament of the Lords Supper there is not any Transubtantiation of the Elements of Bread and Wine into the Body and Blood of Christ at or after the Consecration thereof by any person whatsoever; And that the Invocation or Adoration of the Virgin Mary or any other Saint, and the Sacrifice of the Masse as they are now used in the Church of Rome are superstitious and idolatrous, And I doe solemnely in the presence of God professe testifie and declare That I doe make this Declaration and every part thereof in the plaine and ordinary sence of the Words read unto me as they are commonly understood by English Protestants without any Evasion, Equivocation or Mentall Reservation whatsoever and without any Dispensation already granted me for this purpose by the Pope or any other Authority or Person whatsoever or without any hope of any such Dispensation from any person or authority whatsoever or without thinking that I am or can be acquitted before God or Man or: absolved of this Declaration or any part thereof although the Pope or any other. Person or Persons or Power whatsoever should dispence with or annull the same, or declare that it was null and void from the begining.
Further, by the Act 13° Will. III. cap. 6. [96], what became known as the Oath of Abjuration was added (and fair warning, this is long!),
I A. B. do truly and sincerely acknowledge profess testify and declare in my Conscience before God and the World That our Sovereign Lord King William is lawfull and rightful King of this Realm and of all other His Majesties Dominions and Countries thereunto belonging And I do solemnly and sincerely declare That I do believe in my Conscience that the Person pretended to be the Prince of Wales during the Life of the late King James and since his Decease pretending to be and taking upon himself the Stile and Title of King of England by the Name of James the Third hath not any Right or Title whatsoever to the Crown of this Realm or any other the Dominions thereto belonging And I do renounce refuse and abjure any Allegiance or Obedience to him And I do swear that I will bear Faith and true Allegiance to His Majesty King William and Him will defend to the utmost of my Power against all Traiterous Conspiracies and Attempts whatsoever which shall be made against His Person Crown or Dignity And I will do my best endeavour to disclose and make known to His Majesty and His Successors all Treasons and Traiterous Conspiracies which I shall know to be against Him or any of them And I do faithfully promise to the utmost of my Power to support maintain and defend the Limitation and Succession of the Crown against him the said James and all other Persons whatsoever as the same is and stands limited (by an Act intituled An Act declaring the Rights and Liberties of the Subject and setling the Succession of the Crown) to His Majesty during His Majesties Life and after His Majesties Decease to the Princess Ann of Denmark and the Heirs of Her Body being Protestants and for default of such Issue to the Heirs of the Body of His Majesty being Protestants And as the same by one other Act intituled An Act for the further Limitation of the Crown and better securing the Rights and Liberties of the Subject is and stands limitted after the Decease of His Majesty and the Princess Ann of Denmark and for default of Issue of the said Princess and of His Majesty respectively to the Princess Sophia Electoress and Dutchess Dowager of Hanover and the Heirs of Her Body being Protestants And all these Things I do plainly and sincerely acknowledge and swear according to these express Words by me spoken and according to the plain and common Sense and Understanding of the same Words without any Equivocation mental Evasion or secret Reservation whatsoever And I do make this Recognition Acknowledgment Abjuration Renunciation and Promise heartily willingly and truly upon the true Faith of a Christian. So help me God.
The same Act provided that this was to be taken at the same time as the Declaration in the Act of Charles II mentioned above.

We will now jump forward to the accession of George I, since all that happened in between was a series of piecemeal amendments to all this (or at least, that's what seems to have happened), in addition to requiring the Assurance be made in Scotland (to deal with the Jacobite threat).

The Oaths of Allegiance, Supremacy, and Abjuration, and the Assurance until 1866 (ish)

The Act 1° Geo. I stat. 2 cap. 13 [97] provided new definitions for the three oaths and for the assurance, and unlike the piecemeal approach previously, it is somewhat easier to see how this evolved into the modern forms.

First the Oath of Allegiance, which has a decidedly modern form,

I A.B. do sincerely promise and swear, That I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to His Majesty King George. So help me God.
The principal difference being that heirs and successors are not yet mentioned, for reasons that will readily become apparent. Then a now much abbreviated Oath of Supremacy, shorter than the Elizabethan form, but somewhat nastier too to my reading,
I A.B. do swear, that I do from my heart abhor, detest and abjure, as impious and heretical, that damnable doctrine and position, that princes excommunicated or deprived by the Pope, or any authority of the See of Rome, may be desposed or murthered by their subjects, or any other whatsoever. And I do declare that no foreign prince, person, prelate, state or potentate hath or ought to have any jurisdiction, power, superiority, pre-eminence or authority, ecclesiastical or spiritual, within this Realm. So help me God.
And the new Oath of Abjuration, the principal difference being modifications to the descent, which by the Act of Settlement was now limited solely to the protestant descendants of the Electress, (and fiar warning again, it is long!)

I A.B. do truly and sincerely acknowledge, profess, testify and declare in my conscience before God and the world that our Sovereign Lord King George is lawful and rightful King of this Realm and all other his Majesty's dominions and countries thereunto belonging. And I do solemnly and sincerely declare, that I do believe in my conscience, that the person pretended to be the Prince of Wales, during the life of the late King James, and since his decease pretending to be, and taking upon himself, the title and stile of King of England, by the name of James the Third, or of Scotland, by the name of James the Eighth, or the stile and title of King of Great Britain, hath not any right or title whatsoever to the Crown of this Realm, or any other the dominions thereunto belonging; and I do renounce, refuse, and abjure any allegiance of obedience to him. And I do swear, that I will bear faith and true allegiance to His Majesty King George and him will defence to the utmost of my power, against all traiterous conspiracies and attempts whatsoever, which shall be made against his Person, Crown, or Dignity. And I will do my utmost endeavour to disclose and make known to His Majesty, and his Successors, all treasons and traiterous conspiracies which I shall know to be against him, or any of them. And I do faithfull promise, to the utmost of my power, to support, maintain, and defend the succession of the Crown against him the said James, and all other persons whatsoever, which succession, by an Act, intitled, An Act for the further limitation of the Crown and better securing the rights and liberties of the subject, is and stands limited to the Princess Sophia, Electoress and Dutchess Dowager of Hanover and the heirs of her body being protestants. And all these things I do plainly and sincerely acknowledge and swear, according to these express words by me spoken and according to the plain and common sense and understanding of the same words, without any equivocation, mental evaison, or secret reservation whatsoeve. And I do make this recognition, acknowledgement, renunciation and promise, heartily, willingly and truly, upon the true faith of a Christian. So help me God.
(I probably could have just worked out what had changed between them, now I read back, and posted that...)

Finally, in Scotland an additional declaration called the Assurance (and wildly hated, by all accounts) was required to be subscribed against Jacobism, viz.
I A.B. do, in the sincerity of my heart, assert, acknowledge, and declare, That His Majesty King George is the only lawful and undoubted Sovereign of the realm, as well de jure, that is, of right King, as de facto, that is, in the possession and exercise of the government; and therefore I do sincerely and faithfully promise and engage, That I will, with heart and hand, life and goods, maintain and defence His Majesty's title and government, against the persons pretended to be Prince of Wales, during the life of the late King James and since his decease, pretending to be and taking upon himself the stile and title of King od England, by the name of James the Third, or of Scotland, by the name of James the Eighth, or the stile and title of King of Great Britain, and his adherents, and all other enemies, who either by open or secret attempts, shall disturb or disquiet His Majesty in the possession and exercise thereof.
The declaration against transubstantiation (i.e. the Test) was preserved by section 26 of this Act too.

In 1766, by what became known as the Treason Act 1766 [98], the Oath of Abjuration and the Assurance were amended to take account of the death of the pretender. But I think I will not bore you with reciting them again.

The declaration against transubstantion was eliminated by the Sacramental Test Act 1828 [98bis], and as mentioned above, the 1866 Act eliminated all these oaths entirely, and substituted one uniform Oath of Allegiance.

For reasons that escape me, some of these enactments required that oaths in question only be taken between 9 a.m. and noon, as for example can be found just before the Oath of Abjuration in the 1701 Act, and others, e.g. in the statute of Charles II between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.. This being found to be grossly inconvenient, by 6° & 7° Vict. cap. 6. [99] extended this for Parliamentary purposes to between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.

That curious provision would normally be a bit much even for British standards, but there remains one more.

Oaths before the Lord Steward

The start of the new Parliament in 1831, in the middle of the reform crisis, was also the last occasion a true constitutional oddity occurred. Then, as now, the Oaths above mentioned (all four or five of them) were taken after the election of a Speaker. However, the same oaths (or at least the Oath of Allegiance) would be taken in the Long Gallery (the historical antecedent of the Royal Gallery in the new Palace) before the Lord Steward of His Majesty's Household. As recorded in the Hansard of the day,
The Lord Steward attended in the Long Gallery to swear in the Members of the House of Commons: and a considerable number were sworn in. The Commons being summoned, repaired to the House of Peers, accompanied by the Clerk of the House; and on their return the Clerk informed the Members that a Commission appointed by his Majesty had commanded the Commons to choose a Speaker. Mr. Ley took his place at the Table, and was addressed as Speaker.
Later, in January 1833, we see that the practice has gone, but Hansard feels the need to remark so! [101]
The Act for abolishing the oaths to be taken before the Lord Steward having come into operation, no oaths were taken ​ before the Members assembled, and a great number was present when the House was summoned to the House of Peers.
This requirement had been first established by the Act 7° Jac. 1, cap. 6 [102], which in the middle of a voluminous provision about who should take which oaths before whom, provided that
And all and every the Knights Citizens Burgesses and Barons of the Fyve Portes of the Commons House of Parliament at any Parliament or Session of Parliament hereafter to be assembled, before herr or they shall be permitted to appear in the said House, before the Lord Steward for the tyme being or his Deputie or Deputies
Even for the House in the 1830s this requirement was seen as utterly farcical — at least by some. The bill to repeal it passed its third reading 76 — 26 [103]


Still breathing? Good. Next time we will advance to State Opening!

(yes the footnote numbering starts where Part I left off; trying to adjust them would probably make things worse, not better...)
[63] An office invariably held ex officio by the Permanent Under-Secretary of State at the Ministry of Justice
[64] Who is actually the Under-Clerk of the Parliaments
[67] Built from a high-velocity merger of this — Pages 4 and 5 of volume 63 of the Lords Journals, from 1831 — with this YouTube video
[68] Until you know when the words "Great Britain and Ireland" appeared here, before 1801 it was just "Great Britain", and before 1707 is left as an exercise for the reader (I'm not even sure if there were any Commissions of this form that far back!)
[69] Before 1999, i.e. for the last time in 1997, the words "Our most dear and most entirely beloved Son and most faithful Counsellor Charles Phillip Arthur George Prince of Wales" appeared here.
[70] At some point between the early 19th and early 20th centuries, the full list of Commissioners stopped being given twice, with only the Prince, Archbishop, and Chancellor being mentioned in this part.
[71] Until a different point in the 19th century, it was the custom to list every Peer who was a Privy Counsellor here, which could produce some fantastically long lists!
[72] Until some point also in the 19th century, this read "Archbishops Bishops Earls Viscounts Barons Knights"; then it became "Archbishops Dukes Marquesses Earls Viscounts Bishops Barons Knights"; then after 1999 it became the current "Archbishops Bishops Lords Knights".
[73] The full list was often repeated here too.
[74] Sir Peter de la Mere, in the "Good Parliament"
[75] See, for example, Commons Hansard, volume 493, column 2
[76] The Standing Orders say 5 % but I prefer fractions.
[77] Votes and Proceedings, No. 14, Session 2019
[78] And if this was negatived, the procedure for a full election would be conducted the next day.
[79] Votes and Proceedings, No. 1, Session 2019-21
[80] This is I think slightly unusual, in previous occaisons it has been when not the Prime Minister either a Privy Counsellor or a member of Her Majesty's Household.
[81] Commons Hansard, volume 668, column 10
[82] Lords Hansard, volume 801, column 3
[83] Lords Hansard, volume 783, column 3
[84] 1° Will. & Mar. s. 2 cap. 2
[85] Section 5 of the Parliamentary Oaths Act 1866 (29° and 30° Vict. cap. 19), with the words "votes as such in the said House, or sits during any debate after the Speaker has been chosen" actually explicitly acknowledges this possibility.
[86] 31° & 32° Vict. cap. 72
[87] Which had the effect of suppressing section 1 of the Parliamentary Oaths Act 1866 (29° and 30° Vict. cap. 19)
[88] 1978 cap. 19
[88] And section 10 thereof provides authority for substituting Queen Elizabeth II for Queen Victoria here.
[89] 51° & 52° Vict. cap. 46; this was the culmination of Bradlaugh's campaign.
[90] 10° Geo. V. cap. 7 (Google Books link, the repealed section 2 is not on
[91] 21° & 22° Vict. cap. 49
[92] "An Act to settle the Form of Affirmation to be made in certain Cases by Quakers and other Persons by Law permitted to make an Affirmation instead of taking an Oath", repealed before any Short Titles Act could provide a short title for it.
[93] 26° Hen. VIII. cap. 1
[94] 1° Eliz. I. cap. 1, "An acte restoring to the crown the ancient jurisdiction over the state ecclesiastical and spiritual and abolishing all foreign power repugnant to the same", a small part of which is still in force today at section 8
[95] Also predating the concept of short titles, this is "An Act for the more effectuall preserving the Kings Person and Government by disableing Papists from sitting in either House of Parlyament"
[96] "An Act for the further Security of His Majesties Person and the Succession of the Crown in the Protestant Line and for extinguishing the Hopes of the pretended Prince of Wales and all other Pretenders and their open and secret Abettors."
[97] "An Act for the further security of his Majesty's person and government, and the succession of the crown in the heirs of the late Princess Sophia, being protestants; and for extinguishing the hopes of the pretended Prince of Wales, and his open and secret abettors.", page 187 ish of volume 11 of Statutes at Large
[98bis] 9° Geo. IV, cap. 17
[98] 6° Geo. III cap. 53, "An Act for altering the Oath of Abjuration and the Assurance; and for amending so much of an Act of the Seventh Year of her late Majesty Queen Anne, intituled, An Act for the Improvement of the Union of the two Kingdoms, as, after the Time therein limited, requires the Delivery of certain Lists and Copies therein mentioned to Persons indicted of High Treason, or Misprision of Treason.", page 287 or so of volume 13 of Statutes at Large.
[99] "An Act to alter the Hours within which certain Oaths and Declarations are to be made and subscribed in the House of Peers"
[100] Commons Hansard, volume 4, column 74
[101] Commons Hansard, volume 15, column 35
[102] "An Acte for the administering the Oath of Allegiance and Reformacion of married Woman Recusant", page 1162 of part II of volume IV of Statutes of the Realm.
[103] Commons Handard, volume 5, column 92

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