This book traces, in outline, the development of the principal features of English legal institutions and doctrines from Anglo-Saxon times to the present. The Introduction has become a standard work on the subject. It has now been updated and improved in consequence of the rapid pace of research in legal history over recent years, which has made this new edition a necessity.
The last decade has seen radical changes in the way we are governed. Reforms such as the Human Rights Act and devolution have led to the replacement of one constitutional order by another. This book is the first to describe and analyse Britain's new constitution, asking why it was that the old system, seemingly hallowed by time, came under challenge, and why it is being replaced. The Human Rights Act and the devolution legislation have the character of fundamental law. They in practice limit the rights of Westminster as a sovereign parliament, and establish a constitution which is quasi-federal in nature. The old constitution emphasised the sovereignty of Parliament. The new constitution, by contrast, emphasises the separation of powers, both territorially and at the centre of government. The aim of constitutional reformers has been to improve the quality of government. But the main weakness of the new constitution is that it does little to secure more popular involvement in politics. We are in the process of becoming a constitutional state, but not a popular constitutional state. The next phase of constitutional reform, therefore, is likely to involve the creation of new forms of democratic engagement, so that our constitutional forms come to be more congruent with the social and political forces of the age. The end-point of this piecemeal process might well be a fully codified or written constitution which declares that power stems not from the Queen-in Parliament, but, instead, as in so many constitutions, from `We, the People'. The old British constitution was analysed by Bagehot and Dicey. In this book Vernon Bogdanor charts the significance of what is coming to replace it. The expenses scandal shows up grave defects in the British constitution. Vernon Bogdanor shows how the constitution can be reformed and the political system opened up in`The New British Constitution'.
Despite the infamous divorce of Henry VIII in 1529, subsequent moral, political, and religious attitudes ensured that until 1857, England was the only Protestant country with virtually no facilities for full divorce on the grounds of adultery, desertion, or cruelty. Using a mass of transcribed legal testimonies, taken from hitherto unexplored court records, Professor Stone uncovers the means by which laity and lawyers reformed the divorce laws, and offers astonishingly frank and intimate insights into our ancestors' changing views about what makes a marriage. Using personal accounts in which witnesses speak freely about their moral attitudes towards love, sex, adultery, and marriage, Lawrence Stone reveals, for the first time, the full and complex story of how English men and women have contrived to use, twist, or defy the law in order to deal with marital breakdown.
This text evaluates the legal and constitutional aspects of devolution. Drawing on interviews with those responsible for the devolutionary scheme, it considers the internal architecture and operation of the National Assembly, and Wales’s relationship with Britain and the European Union.