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OF THE BRITISH CONSTITUTION. 33
its possessor is supposed to be filled by his heir. Further, on the death of any king or queen, " the parliament in being shall continue for “ six months, unless sooner prorogued or dis“ folved by the successor ; if the parliament be
at the time of the king's death separated by adjournment or prorogation, it shall not" withstanding assemble immediately; and if “ no parliament is then in being, the members “ of the last parliament shall assemble and be “ again a parliament (i).” In like manner“ the
privy council shall continue for six months “ after the demise of the crown, unless soon
er determined by the successor (k).” The judges too, by an act of parliament passed in the reign and at the recominendation of our present Sovereign, are continued in their (1) offices notwithstanding any demise of the Crown. And all the great (m) officers of State, and in general all officers civil or military throughout the whole British empire, continue in office for six months after the king's demise, unless sooner removed by the successor.
(1) Blackstone, vol. i. p. 189. (k) Ib. p. 232.
6. The Legislative and Executive Powers ought to be distinct.
If the same individual possesses the exclusive power of enacting and administering the laws, he will be influenced in framing them by a reference to the persons whom he foresees that they will affect. Hence, instead of being founded on comprehensive principles of justice, and directed to the general good of the State, they will continually be fabricated for the purpose of gratifying the private animosities and promoting the selfish ends of the Legislator. Tied down to no precedents, subjected to no superior jurisdiction, nor limited by any coordinate authority; he can at pleasure strain the interpretation of an existing statute, or create a new one, to crush the most virtuous member of the community who may
have offended him, or to screen a criminal partisan of his
If the legislative and executive functions be vested in the fame body of men,
this reasoning will be equally applicable.
The British Constitution has guarded against these dangers by committing the office of enacting laws to Parliament, and of executing them
to the Sovereign. The consent of the latter is requisite in all acts of legislation ; but the evils which have been specified are precluded by the previous and concurrent fanction of the Houses of Lords and Commons being essential to the existence of every law. Statutes are enacted by the British Legislature without its being in general possible to foresee on whom they may attach; and inust unavoidably be executed by
l the judicial officers (n) of the Crown without
(1) Sir William Blackstone juftly observes, that it is of the highest importance to the security of freedom, that the actual exercise of judicial authority should be committed to persons neither removable at the will of the Crown, nor acting in other capacities as its immediate servants. After noticing the evils which would arise if the adminiftration of common justice were joined with the legislative power, he adds: “Were it joined with the executive, this “ union might soon be an overbalance for the legislative. “For which reason, by the statute of 16 Car. I. c. 10, “ which abolished the Court of Star-Chamber, effectual
care is taken to remove all judicial power out of the “hands of the King's Privy Council; who, as then was “ evident from recent instances, might foon be inclined “ to pronounce that for law, which was most agreeable “ to the prince or his officers. Nothing therefore is more “ to be avoided in a free country than uniting the pro“ vinces of a judge and a minister of state.” Vol. i.
respect respect of persons. And though the Constitution, in order to prevent the detriment to the public, and the private hardships which would result on particular occasions, from an uniform application of general rules, has wisely intrusted the Sovereign with the power of remitting punishments; it has with equal wisdom laid various () restrictions on the exercise of this privilege, that it
may not be employed in such a manner as to givé encouragement to vice; or to become dangerous to public liberty.
7. The Executive Power should be one ; it should be armed with sufficient authority to enforce obedience to the laws, and to fulfil the other functions with which it is intrusted; and should at the same time be deterred front an unjust or unwise use of its prerogatives, by being subjected to a proper degree and a proper kind of control and of responsibility.
Whatever may be the case with regard to petty States, there seems little reason to expect
() See these restrictions enumerated, Blackstone, vol. iv. p. 398-4011
that the affairs of a great empire will be permanently conducted at home and abroad with the requisite vigour, steadiness, dispatch, and tranquillity, unless the superintendency and control of the whole executive department be committed to a single person.
In Great Britain the powers of the Sovereign are proved by experience adequate to the discharge of the duties imposed upon him. If an unforeseen emergence should ever require some temporary and conftitutional extension of them, the Parliament is authorised to grant it.
In Monarchical Governments, it would be equally difficult and unwise to inflict personal punishment on the supreme magistrate for neglect of duty, or breach of trust. The attempt, even when the crime was incontestable, would commonly produce a civil war. Ber sides, the Sovereign, were he exposed to the possibility of punishment like a common criminal, would scarcely be able to retain the respect of his subjects in a degree sufficient to ensure respect to the laws. If guilt on his part should be manifest, and pass unpunished,