William wrote to parliament to this effect:
“…restoring the rights and liberties of the kingdom, and settling the same, that they may not be in danger of being again subverted.”
The historian GM Trevelyan writing (early 1920s) of these turbulent times some 300 years earlier, said:
"In the Stuart era the English developed for themselves...a system of parliamentary government, local administration and freedom of speech and person, clean contrary to the prevailing tendencies on the continent, which was moving fast towards regal absolutism, centralised bureaucracy, and the subjection of the individual to the State."
Is Constitutional Change Treason?
But in England - in a nutshell - since it was established that new rights can be conceded, but existing rights cannot be taken away, so it is arguable that any subsequent attempts to overthrow the laws and constitution of the United Kingdom must be treason .
“Attempts to destroy the constitution” were the defining words used in the Treason Act of 1705, and they were put to the test in the case of R. v Thistlewood in 1820. On the face of it, such a definition would appear to rule out any referendum on the adoption of a foreign currency, since it must, ipso facto, deal with a matter which is constitutional. Indeed, the previous referendum on joining what was then called the common market may also have been unconstitutional, since the executive of the day and their legal advisors have subsequently admitted that they knew then that the true purpose of the common market was full political union.
Act of Settlement 1700 (section 4) says:
“…the laws of England are the birthright of the people thereof and all the kings and queens who shall ascend the throne of this realm ought to serve them respectively according to the same.”
Which brings us to The Treaty of Union with Scotland, and the obstacles placed in the way of a catholic attempting to ascend the throne. These were most recently and clearly spelled out in the Declaration of Rights and also in the Bill of Rights. Such an event was held to be inconsistent with the safety and welfare of this protestant kingdom.
The authority for this is not the Act of Settlement, but Article 11 of the Treaty of Union 1707, which embodies the substance of the Act of Settlement of 1700.
Once again, this treaty was not incorporated into statute law and therefore cannot be repealed by an Act of Parliament - yet another inconvenient fact that’s been forgotten by this present government.
The Statute Law Revision Act, 1867, attempted to take common law into statute and then repeal it. But, as we have argued earlier, this cannot happen, since common law is above statute law and pre-dates it. In any case, both Magna Carta and the Declaration of Rights specifically reject any such attempt to amend or abolish them.
We can find no supporting evidence for Halsbury’s claim that only clauses 1, 9, 29 and 37 of Magna Carta still stand today, while Blackstone and Dicey make no such suggestion.
Coming to more recent times…
In 1913 (Bowles v Bank of England) it was ruled that:
“The Bill of Rights still remains unrepealed, and practice of custom, however prolonged or however acquiesced in on the part of the subject, cannot be relied on by the crown as justifying any infringement of its provisions.”
The case of Chester v Bateson, 1920, held that “common law is not immune from development or improvement”. It does not talk about “limitations” or “destruction”.
So the issue then turns on what is “improvement”. The word is open to a considerable latitude of interpretation, and some future undemocratic tyrant or despotic government might - would - argue that certain freedoms and rights were dangerous and should be “improved” by abolition. That’s the perverse logic used in the communist and fascist worlds of years ago. Indeed there are alarming signs of exactly that deviousness of interpretation amongst our present executive. And it represents a serious risk which cannot be ignored.
The erosion of one single right - however alluring the apparent logic and reasonableness might be - and all rights are then exposed. That’s why the right to bear arms is so crucial, despite the aftermath of Dunblane.
One of the signatories to this document, Mike Burke, went to the Court of Appeal on 8 March 1998 in support of his case based on clause seven of The Declaration of Rights, 1688, and The Bill of Rights, 1689, permitting him to bear arms in self-defence. The appeal was rejected.
Despite further extensive enquiries and research, he still awaits an answer to the question: where exactly did the learned judges in the high court and the appeal court discover authority for the removal of our right to arms, and the repeal of at least one clause in The Bill of Rights?
Of equal concern is the fact that subsequent searches of legal records have so far revealed no trace of the judgement rejecting his appeal. Yet the case raised an important constitutional right, embedded in legislation which has not been repealed and which - we have argued above - cannot be repealed.
That such a case should not be reported at all in legal records raises yet more important questions about the suppression of rights by stealth, and this time apparently with the connivance of the judiciary.
It must be of some concern that the last time Britons were forcibly disarmed of weapons held for self-defence the result was the American War of Independence.