Tuesday, 14 May 2019

This session of Parliament is the second longest in English history

'It is Day 300 of the longest parliamentary session since the English Civil War. MPs sat for a grand total of three hours and 34 minutes yesterday, before running out of things to talk about and going home. Today’s gripping schedule in the Commons features an opposition-led debate on the probation service, a backbench bill to protect hares during the breeding season, and a discussion of anti-social behavior in Stockton. There hasn’t been a proper vote in over a month. This is not so much a zombie government, as basically no government at all.' (James Blanchard today.)

Sessions of Parliament usually last a year. This one has lasted three years and is the second longest in English history

The longest was the Long Parliament that sat between 1640 and 1653 in one uninterrupted session without being prorogued, for the good and sufficient reason that it made war on the Sovereign whose prerogative prorogation is. In the end Cromwell got rid of it without worrying about niceties. Watch the Lord Protector do it here, played by Richard Harris. 

Even if you are not a republican, you may wish he'd come back to life and do it again. But dissolving parliament would mean a general election, much the same people would be returned again and we'd probably have a Labour - Scottish Nationalist coalition government. Better not.

Unusually long sessions took place in the past because of a lot of constitutional change. They were held after the 'Glorious Revolution' of 1688-9, in 1893-4 to try and fail to legislate for Home Rule for Ireland, in 1992-93 to adopt the Maastricht Treaty into law and in 1998-99 in order to introduce devolution for Scotland and Wales. An exception was the long session of 1966-7 which did nothing anyone can remember.

What a great shame that Home Rule for Ireland didn't happen. Had the House of Lords agreed to it then the whole of Ireland would be part of the UK now. What an even greater shame about the Maastricht legislation - had it not passed England would not be in a crisis now and Europe would have been saved a world of pain. What a great shame about devolution too.  50.3% of the Welsh voted for devolution. The other side simply accepted the result.

About the Glorious Revolution different people have different views. The Duke of Bavaria is the Pretender and lives in Munich. He never comments on his right to sit on the English, Scotch and Irish thrones.

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