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Convention Parliaments

Convention Parliaments. The constitutional crisis of the 17th cent. produced two occasions when there were legal impediments to the summoning of a lawful parliament. The first was at the Restoration. On 25 April 1660, a month after the Long Parliament had dissolved itself, a convention assembled and declared that the government should be in king, lords, and commons. Its first act was to declare itself a genuine parliament, ‘notwithstanding any defect or default whatsoever’. It remained in existence until December 1660, establishing the terms of the Restoration, save for the church settlement, which was left to its successor. A similar procedure was adopted in 1689 after James II's flight meant that the calling of a lawful parliament was impossible. The Assembly which gathered at Westminster on 22 January was a parliament in all but name, and its first act, using the exact words of the 1660 measure, was to declare itself a parliament. By the Declaration of Rights, later turned into the Bill of Rights, it laid down the main features of the revolutionary settlement, accepted by William and Mary. In Scotland a Convention of Estates was summoned in 1689 for the same purpose.

J. A. Cannon

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