The government system of the United Kingdom (UK) is parliamentarian government and under the constitution of the UK, all actions of government are undertaken in the name of the Crown-Illustrate and Explain


This case is related with the constitutional issues and also ministerial responsibility and royal pregorative powers of Queen’s. We know that the government system of the United Kingdom (UK) is parliamentarian government and under the constitution of the UK, all actions of government are undertaken in the name of the Crown. The U.K parliament is composed of the sovereign, the House of Lords and the House of Commons. A parliament is summoned to meet by the sovereign following a general election and the life of the parliament will run until the subsequent general election. Under Section 7 of The Parliament Act 1911, the life of a parliament is restricted to five years from the day on which first appointed to meet, unless previously dissolved. Parliaments are summoned and dissolved by proclamation of the Crown on the advice of the privy council.[1]. It is true that Queen has power for dissolution to parliament, but according to British tradition Queen will not do this Act without discussion of prime minister or without his advice because the prime minister is Executive Head of State and he is also the leader of House of Common and ruling party of government. The Act of parliament cannot challenge by any count of U.K.

In 1906 the High Court of Justiciary in Edinburgh said, “for us an Act of Parliament duly passed by House of Lords and House of Commons and assented to by the king in supreme and we are found to give effect to its terms”[2]

   The fact of the case:

 This case is related with the constitution and very critical because the Labour government has a big majority in parliament but unfortunately opposition party, the Conservatives won the vote of no confidence in parliament, although Labour has big majority in House of Commons but a specific cause a large number of labour MP’s were unable to attend the commons. For this reason prime minister Mr. Blair refuses to resign and he said that Labour would not have been defeated in the vote of confidence, but the leader of the opposition party in commons Mr. Duncan-Smith argues that Blair defeat by vote of no confidence in parliament. So Mr Blair and his government should resign. Nevertheless, this problem is demonstrated according to constitution and rule of parliament.

 The constitutional rules of the Bills:

A Bill cannot pass without support of the majority Member of Parliament, but if a member of parliament is absence then his or her vote will not be counted. So only present members vote will be counted in the time of voting of Bill in parliament. During its procedural stage through parliament a legislative proposal is known as a ‘bill’. When a bill introduce in parliament they follow to some way. Bills may be introduced into either House, but legislation, which is politically controversial, financial or electoral beginning in the House of Commons. When a bill came in parliament then a notice to speaker will introduce it and speaker will inform to leader of parliament and leader of opposition party. When the bill is presented to parliament then it is call first reading and the time of second reading, the House considers the principles and merits of the Bill. But there has some stage like, Committee stage: the bill is normally referred to a standing committee for detailed clause-by-clause consideration. Report stage: the Bills as amended are reported to the whole House. Third reading: the bill is debated in general terms with only oral arrangements allowed. After third reading, the bill is sent to the House of Lords and the Queen’s for Royal Assent[3]

After the Royal Assent has been given the Bill becomes an Act. After above discussion, we can say that this Bill had followed this several stage. So if the members of ruling party in absence then normally his vote will not be cast and prime minister is responsible what this matter. But in this topic where the conservative won a vote of no confidence in the government following a debate in the House of Commons because a large number of Labour MP’s were unable to attend the Commons because of the chaotic state of the railways. But this cause will not be made any consider for absence of parliament members of ruling party if it is not unavoidable.

 The rules about non-confidence Bill in parliament and previous examples:

Sometime in parliament introduce a no confidence bill by opposition party. The history if British parliament has many examples about it. Although parliament is dissolved prior to a general election, but it can dissolve by no confidence vote of parliament members under The Parliament Act 1911, the maximum duration of the life of a parliament is five years. Dissolution is therefore required before the expiry of this period. For the most past, the prime minister will seek a dissolution affected by the Crown under the Royal prerogative at a date, which is politically favourable to his or her party. It is entirely within the prime minister’s personal discretion when to seek dissolution. Alternatively, dissolution may be sought when the government loses the support of the House of Commons, government may suffer defeats in the commons on arrange of issues which will not force a dissolution. But, if the government is defeated on a notion of confidence on a matter central to its administration dissolution will be forced.[4]

When dissolution is general, the government does not resign until after a defeat in the general election. It has been that, in 1974, the prime minister, Edward Heath, did not resign until it was clear that he could not form a pact with the Liberal party, which would source a working majority in the Commons. The dissolution of parliament refers to the process by which an existing parliament is brought to an end with a new parliament coming into being following a general election. The dissolution of parliament lies within the prerogative of the Crown. Three aspects of the right to dissolve parliament require consideration: first, whether the Crown has the right to dissolve parliament on its own initiative; secondly; whether the Crown has the right to refuse a dissolution when requested by the prime minister or other ministers and thirdly, whether by refusing to assent to a bill contrary to the advice of the prime minister, the Crown can indirectly force a dissolution.[5]

According to the British constitution and by convention a government must resign or seek dissolution of parliament from the Queen if a confidence vote is lost in the House of Common. Prime minister Ramsey Mac Donald described a vote of confidence in 1924 as being a vote on ‘substantial issues’ issues of principle, issues which really matter, a matter, which strikes at the root of proposals made. In 1979, the Labour government has been defeated by two votes in a vote over its economic policy[6].

On the other hand, the Prime Minister, James Callagham, tabled a vote of confidence and won the vote. Nevertheless, in light of the political uncertainty, the prime minister sought and was granted dissolution and a general election followed at which the Labour party was defeated[7].

Professor Basil Markesinis identifies eight aspects of the convention on the dissolution of parliament, which are as follows:

  • The Crown cannot force a dissolution upon a government; this would also imply its dismissal
  • The Crown in the rest majority of case must act on the advice of the prime minister of the time.
  • The Crown cannot refuse a dissolution to a majority prime minister. The size of his party’s majority is irrelevant.
  • The timing of and reason for the dissolution is left to the prime minister’ discretion.
  • The Crown may, under certain circumstance, refuse dissolution to a minority government (whether defeated or undefeated) provided an alternative government is possible and able to carry on with the existing house. If the government is censured, it is advisable that the Crown recalls its predecessor and grants its request to dissolve.
  • Though an appeal to the electorate is always proper, a series of dissolutions, particularly if they are based on the same reason, might represent a triumph over and not a triumph of the electorate.
  • A government, which has been granted dissolution, may not proceed to a second dissolution until the new parliament proves unworkable and no other government is likely and willing to carry on with the existing house.
  • The question on to which party was granted the previous dissolution and the timing of the dissolution are matters which may be taken into account but are not in themselves decisive.[8]

Royal pregorative powers about the dissolved of government:

The life of government is depending to the support of parliament and the Queen opinion. If a ruling party lose his majority in parliament by non-confidence vote then Queen can dissolved the ministry or the parliament and again Queen recall the parliament election.

The last occasion on which the Crown – on its own initiative- dissolved parliament was in 1835. The dismissal of his government by William (iv) in 1834-35 reveals the constitutional dangers of the exercise of monarchical power. The government had lost its leader, but was nonetheless viable as a continuing ministry. The king, misjudging the strength of public opinion against the government, forced it out of office only to be replaced by an unsuccessful successor.[9]

 The Queen is accordingly unable to achieve a dissolution without advice of prime minister. In Jennings’s view, “if ministers refuse to give such advice, she can do no more than dismiss them”.[10]

Walter Bagehot, writing in 1867 that the Crown’s power to dissolve parliament other than following a prime ministerial request ‘has almost’ if not quite, dropped out of the reality of our constitution.

But Dicey was a different view; the Crown has the right in certain circumstances- to dismiss a ministry who commands a parliamentary majority, and to dissolve the parliament by which the ministry are supported. Dicey recognised that the dissolution of 1834-35 was ‘a mistake’, the king wrongly interpreting the will of the nation. That judgment is not conclusive of the constitutionality of the king’s action, although Dicey conceded that it ‘is hard to speak with decision’ over that dissolution. As Dicey argued, if there is a constitutional right to appeal directly to the people by dissolving parliament, then that right cannot itself be defeated merely because of a mistaken judgment.[11]

The precedent of 1834 is cited as authority for the proposition that the Crown has the right to dissolve parliament, other than on the advice of ministers, where the main objective of dissolution is to “ascertain that the will of parliament coincides with the will of the nation”[12]

After only four days in office, the incoming government was defeated and the prime minister requested and was granted dissolution. A similar situation arose in 1939 in South Africa.[13]

A ‘forced’ dissolution would inevitably come about if the Queen were to refuse to assent to a Bill against the wishes of her prime minister. During the Home rule for Ireland debate, king George (v) was encouraged to veto the Home Rule Bill. In legal theory, the Queen has the right to refuse her assent to bills, but by convention, assent is always given[14]


After above discussion, according to British Constitution opinion can be drawn that Queen can follow to constitution and previous example in this matter. The Queen can dissolved to ministry or parliament but Queen should not do this because the Labour party has a big majority in parliament and Queen should not dissolved the ministry without request of prime minister. The Conservative ‘won’ because a large number of Labour MP’s were unable to attend the Commons because of the chaotic state of the railways, it is true that absence vote will not be counted in parliament, but if this problem was avoidable then may be Mr. Blair logic will be countable. But it was not ignorable then queen can accept the Bill. I think this decision will not be good for Queen for previous example.

If we follow to Dicey opinion then Queen can dissolved the ministry but if we follow the opinion of proof: Basil Markesinis then we can say that Queen cannot dissolved the ministry.

If Queen accept this Bill then normally, second majority party will be called for forming ministry, but if Mr. Duncan Smith can not show his majority in parliament then Queen can dissolved the parliament. But this decision will not be good for nation and the Queen should be considered the national interest or majority people’s opinion.


  1. Alex Carroll, Constitutional and Administrative law, Pitman Publishing.
  1. R. Hughess and S. Migdaal, Constitutional law, HLT Publications.

 J.A.G Griffith and M. Ryle, Parliament Functions, Practice and Procedures. Sweet  and Maxwell, 1989

  1. Hilaire Barnett, Constitutional and Administrative law,2nd,Cavendish.
  1. Jefferey Jowell and D. Oliver, The Changing Constitution, 3rd, Clarendon                        Press, 1994.
  1. Lord  Templeman, Constitutional law, Old Bailey Press.
  2.  Paul Jackson, Constitutional law, case book, Sweet and Maxwell.
  1. See,[1] Alex Carroll, Constitutional and Administrative law, p-10

        [2]       See, Mortensen v/S peters (1966) 8 F (J) 93 100

[3]               See, Lord Templeman, Constitutional Law, p-64

[4]               See, R  Hughes and S Migdal, Constitutional law, p-59

[5]           See, J.A.G Griffith , Parliament Functions, Practice and Procedures. P-227

[6]       Loc cit.

[7]     See, .   Jefferey Jowell, The Changing Constitution, p-79

[8]       See, Pro: Markesinis, The theory and practice of Dissolution of parliament, p-120

[9]       See, Hilaire Barnett, Constitutional and Administrative law, p-157

[10]     Loc cit, p-157

[11]   Loc cit, p-179

[12]     Loc cit

[13]   Loc cit

[14]   Loc cit