The Two Constitutions: A Comparative Study of British and American Constitutional Systems

By Harold Stannard | Go to book overview

VI
COMMONS AND REPRESENTATIVES

ALTHOUGH the American Senate surpasses the British House of Lords in power and value, by way of compensation the British House of Commons holds a place in the Constitution to which the American House of Representatives cannot hope to aspire. This place is due first to the Commons' assertion of control over the public purse, and secondly to its use of that control in such a way as to make the executive Government dependent upon its confidence. Both these sources of the Commons' power were acquired almost accidently. The great desire of the early Parliaments was that the King should live of his own, that is to say, should conduct the business of Government out of the revenues assigned to him for life at the beginning of his reign. These revenues, however, would not provide the sinews of war and Parliaments were called together to place at the King's disposal the necessary funds, which were derived from a rudimentary system of direct taxation. It thus came about that the frequency of Parliaments was directly related to the frequency of wars. No English Sovereign was more persistently belligerent than was Edward III, who held forty-

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The Two Constitutions: A Comparative Study of British and American Constitutional Systems
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Contents vii
  • Biographical Note viii
  • Introduction ix
  • I- Crown and Constitution 1
  • II- King, President, Prime Minister 55
  • III- Parliament and Congress 73
  • VI- Parties 89
  • V- Senate and House of Lords 112
  • VI- Commons and Representatives 133
  • VII- The Law of the Land 152
  • VIII- The Two Examples 167
  • Selected Bibliography 203
  • Index 205
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