The House of Lords, 1603-1649: Structure, Procedure, and the Nature of Its Business

By Elizabeth Read Foster | Go to book overview

7
CONFERENCES

Parliament had long relied on conferences to forward business that required agreement between the Houses: bills, petitions, and major projects of various sorts. In the medieval period, the Lords used the conference primarily to instruct the Commons and came to the lower House to do so. As time went on, the rise of the position of Speaker and the election of members of the Privy Council to the lower House provided more acceptable means of instruction and persuasion.1 By the Elizabethan period, the Houses frequently met in conference, to iron out difficulties with bills or to communicate royal wishes or other information that one House desired to share with the other.2

The nature of conferences varied. Some were formal audiences or meetings at which the representatives of one House spoke and those of the other listened. At some conferences there were replies. Some conferences were wholly oral. At others documents, charges, or written reasons were exchanged. Some were working sessions to accommodate the texts of bills to the wishes of both Houses. Conferences may also be distinguished by the degree of control exercised by the Houses over their representatives. Certain conference committees in the Elizabethan and early Stuart periods were charged to reach agreement, an undertaking that implied a broad mandate. Examples are the conferences concerning the bill of monopolies in 1601, three conferences in 1605 concerning the union, and a conference in 1607 concerning the bill for free trade. At other conferences, committees were more limited in power. They might debate, but were to maintain only such positions as had been earlier agreed on by the House from which they came. When the representatives of one House were the sole speakers, they might follow an outline or "heads" of argument previously agreed upon. At other conferences, members were merely empowered to deliver or receive documents.3

During the early Stuart period, the conference developed in interesting ways and the Lords' procedure governing conferences became more

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The House of Lords, 1603-1649: Structure, Procedure, and the Nature of Its Business
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • PART ONE - THE STRUCTURE OF THE HOUSE 1
  • I - THE MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE AND THEIR CHAMBER 3
  • 2 - THE PRESIDING OFFICER 28
  • 3 - THE CLERK 44
  • 4 - OTHER OFFICERS OF THE HOUSE 64
  • 5 - THE ASSISTANTS 70
  • 6 - COMMITTEES 87
  • 7 - CONFERENCES 126
  • PART TWO - THE BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE 135
  • 8 - PRIVILEGE 137
  • 9 - JUDICATURE 149
  • 10 - LEGISLATION 189
  • PART THREE - THE END OF A PARLIAMENT 203
  • II - CONCLUSION 205
  • ABBREVIATIONS AND SHORT TITLES 211
  • Index 305
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