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dispensing power

dispensing power was the prerogative or discretion claimed by the monarch of exempting from the operation of statutes in particular cases. It was exercised by medieval and Tudor monarchs but became a bone of contention in the 17th cent. The Long Parliament, in its Nineteen Propositions, accused Charles I of making excessive use of it. Charles II employed it to assist catholics who had helped his escape after the battle of Worcester. James II used it to exempt catholic army officers from the Test Act and, in a collusive action, Godden v. Hales, the judges found for the king. After James had fled in 1688, the Bill of Rights abolished the suspending power outright and the dispensing power ‘as it hath been assumed and exercised of late’. It caused little further trouble.

J. A. Cannon

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