chapter  4
18 Pages

Sunset clauses in the era of parliamentary sovereignty

Queen Anne reigned for twelve years until her death in 1714. She was the last monarch to exercise the power of not giving assent to a bill. She was succeeded by George I according to the Act of Settlement, and he was the fi rst monarch whose role in legislation was formal only. 1 During the same period, a new system of parliamentary government was established by legislation enacted in the years between 1689 and 1716, 2 which featured a system of cabinet government and, progressively, the development of party government. 3 As Kemp accurately remarks:

if the years from 1689 to 1716 are the formative years for the relation between Kings and Commons, the years from 1716 to 1783 are the years of balance between them, and in the years from 1784 to 1832 this balance was slowly undermined. 4

Stability in the constitutional order and the establishment of the doctrine of parliamentary sovereignty in the 18th century crystallised the use of the sunset clause in the internal matters of Parliament, 5 and despite the formation of political parties, the use of sunset clauses

were associated with Parliament’s effort to control the growth of the administration.