Talk:Statute of Westminster 1931

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Where did it get the name?[edit]

What I always have wondered is where the act got its name. Out of all the acts passed in westminster, whose crazy idea was it to call this one the statute of westminster????

Perhaps because Article 12 reads: "This Act may be cited as the Statute of Westminster, 1931"? --Chris Bennett 00:57, 30 November 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]
That doesn't really answer the question. Doops | talk 08:15, 11 December 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Article said

The British North America Act and the Constitution Acts of Australia and New Zealand were specifically excluded from the scope of the Statute's principal clauses, requiring British Parliamentary ratification of any amendment to those countries' constitutions, involving as they treaty matters or relations between federal and provincial/state governments.

I don't know about the case of Canada, but in the case of Australia the above is incorrect. Australia has had the power to ammend its own consititution, without needing any approval from the UK parliament, ever since 1901, and has in fact done so on several occasions. The Statute of Westminister did provide, however, that the Commonwealth Parliament would not have the power under the Statute to ammend the Australian Constitution; but that was done to prevent it from circumventing the provisions on ammendment contained in the constitution, not to retain it as a power of the British Parliament. -- SJK

Treaty of Westminster

Edit of 23 May 2005 says "The Statute is sometimes referred to, especially in the former dominions, as the Treaty of Westminster." I've never heard this, it certainly isn't true in Australia, in my experience, and I'm not inclined to believe it. Can anyone cite a documented use of this terminology? -- Chris Bennett


It is true that in statute law the preamble is not binding. However, it seems that where the Statute of Westminster has been included as part of a codified constitution, as in Canada, it is binding as in the case of O'Donohue v. Her Majesty the Queen, Judge Rouleau dismissed O'Donohue's challenge on the strength of the Statute of Westminster's preamble. AndyL 8 July 2005 17:39 (UTC)

  • A preamble normally does not include enforceable provisions, but it is part of the legislation: From the Interpretation Act (Canada): 13. The preamble of an enactment shall be read as a part of the enactment intended to assist in explaining its purport and object. Peter Grey 8 July 2005 17:48 (UTC)
  • Rouleau referred to the preamble of the 1867 Constitution Act. Peter Grey 8 July 2005 18:01 (UTC)

Either way, gbambino is wrong. AndyL 8 July 2005 17:54 (UTC)

"*Rouleau referred to the preamble of the 1867 Constitution Act."

In Clause 31 of his ruling he quotes the preamble to the Statute of Westminster.:

[31] By the Statute of Westminster, 1921 (U. K.) 22 and 23 Geo.5, c.4 the United Kingdom agreed that it would no longer impose British statutes on the Various dominions without their accord. It also provided that the British monarch would continue to be the monarch of various Commonwealth countries including Canada. In order to recognize that the United Kingdom would no longer impose British statutes on the dominions. but also to ensure that the rules of succession which had previously been imposed by the United Kingdom on those Commonwealth countries continued to he consistent, the British Parliament set out in the preamble to the Statute of Westminister the following:
And whereas it is meet and proper to set out by way of preamble to this Act that, inasmuch as the Crown is the symbol of the free association of the members of the British Commonwealth of Nations, and as they are united by a common allegiance to the Crown. it would he in accord with the established constitutional position of all the members of the Commonwealth in relation to one another that any alteration in the law touching the Succession to the Throne or the Royal Style and Titles shall hereafter require the assent as well as of the Parliaments of all the Dominions as of the Parliament of the United Kingdom:
[32] The Statute of Westminster is a part of the Constitution of Canada by virtue of it being listed in the schedule to the Constitution (Constitution Act, 1982, s. 52(2)(b)).
[33] As a result of the Statute of Westminster it was recognized that any alterations in the rules of succession would no longer be imposed by Great Britain and, if symmetry among commonwealth countries were to he maintained, any changes to the rules of succession would have to be agreed to by all members of the Commonwealth. This arrangement can be compared to a treaty among the Commonwealth countries to share the monarchy under the existing rules and not to change the rules without the agreement of all signatories. While Canada as a sovereign nation is free to withdraw from the arrangement and no longer be united through common allegiance to the Crown, it cannot unilaterally change the rules of succession for all Commonwealth countries. Unilateral changes by Canada to the rules of succession, whether imposed by the court or otherwise, would be contrary to the commitment given in the Statute of Westminster, would break symmetry and breach the principle of union under the British Crown set out in the preamble to the Constitution Act, 1867. Such changes would, for all intents and purposes, bring about a fundamental change in the office of the Queen without securing the authorizations required pursuant to s. 41 of the Constitution Act, 1982.

Rouleau thus treats the preamble as being leagally binding. AndyL 8 July 2005 18:09 (UTC)

  • Check [38] for the actual grounds for dismissal, as opposed to background. Peter Grey 8 July 2005 18:14 (UTC)

8 July 2005[edit]

I changed the article back because these changes seem unfocused, and perhaps not encyclopedic. I suggest working out the change here on the talk page and then editing the article itself. Peter Grey 8 July 2005 18:20 (UTC)\

That's fine. Gbambino initiated the changes by deleting something he shouldn't have deleted. I'm find with the status quo ante. AndyL 8 July 2005 18:23 (UTC)

I question what relevance the following phrase has in relation to this article: "In any case there can be no effective restriction on the powers of those Parliaments which recognise the doctrine of Parliamentary supremacy, namely the United Kingdom and New Zealand, within their national territory." As the preamble to the Statute is not legally binding in any Realm then what difference does it make in this matter if New Zealand recognises Parliamentary supremacy and Canada does not? The only thing Parliamentary supremacy is relevant to is how easily a country can alter its own copy of the Statute -- for the U.K. and New Zealand it takes merely an Act of Parliament, for Canada it takes the agreement of 10 provincial legislatures and the federal Parliament, in Australia it is something similar... The inclusion of the above phrase, and the wording of it, implies that New Zealand, the U.K., etc., are not bound by the Statute because of their adherence to Parliamentary supremacy, whereas Canada, Australia, and other Realms are bound, and must therefore obediently and unquestioningly follow any changes the U.K. or New Zealand may make to the line of succession. Jonathan David Makepeace, another republican associated with Citizens for a Canadian republic, tried to argue this before on Talk:Monarchy in Canada, and it is, of course, wrong. --gbambino 14:43, 11 July 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The myth is that since the legislative powers of Parliament in the UK are unlimited, it can amend the Statute of Westminster and then somehow the leap is made to implying that the versions outside the UK would change with it. If you think of Parliament abrogating the 1783 Treaty of Paris, and then going on to, say, abolish the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, you can see how silly the idea really is. Peter Grey 15:01, 11 July 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I agree, and thus my proposed change is that the full text quoted above be removed from the article. It really has no relevance, aside from attempting to mislead readers into thinking Canada and Australia as subservient to the British (and, even more bizzarre, the New Zealand) Parliament. --gbambino 15:29, 11 July 2005 (UTC) Surely it can only be equally bizarre? Peter Grey 20:34, 11 July 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I put up a wording based on -- what else -- Justice Rouleau's ruling. (In parentheses since it's an aside.) Peter Grey 15:58, 11 July 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Much better. Well done! --gbambino 17:36, 11 July 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Realms created after 1931[edit]

For those realms such as Belize, Jamacia, Barbadous etc- can the Statute of Westminster Act 1931 apply? The Statute was never amended. Astrotrain 19:26, August 26, 2005 (UTC)

It doesn't apply per se, but the Acts that gave those places independence would either include it by reference or include similar terms. (this is just an educated guess, by the way, I haven't checked what they actually do) Morwen - Talk 21:44, 31 December 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]

SoW as "obsolete"[edit]

"The Statute became domestic law within each of the other Commonwealth Realms after the patriation of the particular Realm's constitution, to the extent that it was not rendered obsolete by that process."

In which Commonwealth Realm has the Statute of Westminster been rendered useless? --gbambino 15:01, 31 July 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Not "useless", "obsolete". As stated in the following paragraph, "Its residual constitutional powers have been superseded by subsequent legislation. " An example is given in the last section of the "Equality Provisions" section of this article: the SoW's provisions regarding the relationship of the Australian states to the UK parliament certainly no longer apply, having been superseded by the Australia Act. That act also removed the power, reserved to the UK parliament in the SoW, for the UK to legislate for Australia with Australia's consent.
The onus is really on you to show that the SoW has any residual place at all in at least Australian domestic law, given the passage of the Australia Act. I wouldn't be at all surprised if the SoW also has no current role in the domestic law of Canada and New Zealand. --Chris Bennett 15:29, 31 July 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Onus? I'm simply asking a question, not launching an attack. I'm not aware of many of the subtle technicalities of law in various countries; thank you for explaining some about Australia.

No attack. All I was saying was that you added the sentence "The Statute became domestic law within each of the other Commonwealth Realms after the patriation of the particular Realm's constitution." without citing any evidence it is true, and surely the onus was on you to do so. Rather than attacking you for it, I qualified the sentence, because I knew it wasn't completely accurate (not to mention that other statements in the article contradicted it). But in fact I don't know of any evidence it is true at all.

However, is there not one key part of the Statute of Westminster which continues to have effect in every Realm? Namely, the preamble, which outlines: "it would be in accord with the established constitutional position of all the members of the Commonwealth in relation to one another that any alteration in the law touching the Succession to the Throne or the Royal Style and Titles shall hereafter require the assent as well of the Parliaments of all the Dominions as of the Parliament of the United Kingdom." It was referred to as recently as 2003, in the ruling of Ontario Superior Court Justice Rouleau on a challenge to the Act of Settlement within the Canadian Constitution, which also still contains the Statute of Westminster.

THe preamble is not part of the act and therefore doesn't count. Whether Rouleau's ruling is part of Canadian constitutional law is up to Canada to decide, but surely it will do so on the basis of the Canadian constitution as it now exists, not on the basis of the SoW. Anyway, the current text doesn't say that the SoW is obsolete, only that some or all of it is, depending on whether we are talking about Australia, Canada, New Zealand or the UK, who are the only surviving parties affected by the statute.

If the provision that a country's parliament cannot unilaterally alter the line of succession is still a functioning rule within each Realm, then, though some parts of the Statute have been rendered obsolete by subsequent legislation, the Statute is not itself obsolete (which I would think is a synonym for "useless"), even if the provision is only outlined in the preamble. --gbambino 15:50, 31 July 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

That is a remarkably utilitarian definition of "obsolete", and surely there is much that is useless that is not obsolete. --Chris Bennett 18:21, 31 July 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
My understanding is that it depends on the country in question. The statute was repealed in New Zealand law by the Constitution Act 1986, and I think the Australia Act 1986 also did the same thing. I think Dicey once said that "once freedom is granted, it cannot be revoked"; so the Statute of Westminster probably is "obsolete" in that freedom has been granted. --Lholden 21:45, 31 July 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The Australia Act repealed some sections of the Statute, as much as they were already adopted. However, I am also disturbed by the gbambino's sentence, as I don't see that the "patriation of the constitution" concept necessarily applies outside Canada. JPD (talk) 09:22, 13 October 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
It certainly applied to the Irish Free State, which promptly removed all functions of the King or his representatives except that of receiving ambassadors and shortly afterward enacted a new constitution which deleted him completely. --Red King (talk) 20:27, 9 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Canada Table[edit]

The Statute applied to multiple countries that were part of the British Empire, so why is there a table at the bottom that applies to Canada? I think it shouldn't be there, or every country that this applied to should be there.

I have removed the Canadian table as it is a point of inconsistency. Why have a table dedicated to just one realm? Either have them all or none. But I can tell that the Canadian table is just going to be added back in. I'm new to wikipedia so I don't know what to do about this. --Parraluke (talk) 17:56, 18 January 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

It's a navbox, not a table. It exists so readers focusing on matters related to the Canadian constitution can navigate between articles that fall within that scope; it's therefore in all the articles that fall within that scope. "Inconsistency" thus isn't a justification for removing it. And, even so, would adding navboxes for other relams' constitutions not be an alternative to deleting one because it's alone? --Ħ MIESIANIACAL 18:06, 18 January 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Problem solved, anyway: There's a constitution of Canada navbox at the foot of the article. The veritcal navbox is thus redundant. --Ħ MIESIANIACAL 18:09, 18 January 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Ok so navboxes for all the other associated countries will be added. --Parraluke (talk) 18:09, 18 January 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The name[edit]

OK, so why did the MacDonald government call it the "Statute of Westminster 1931?" Aren't all statutes passed by the British Parliament passed in Westminster? -- Mwalcoff 00:36, 17 April 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The MacDonald government ended with the death of Sir John A. MacDonald in the year 1887 ot 1888.

I don't know who wrote the sentence above, but the "MacDonald" here would obviously have to be Ramsay MacDonald, Prime Minister of the UK at the time of the Royal Assent of this statute. However, the question raised remains to answered...Autokefal Dialytiker (talk) 23:15, 27 August 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Western Australian secession[edit]

For example, in a referendum held in Western Australia in April 1933, 68% of voters voted for the state to leave the Commonwealth of Australia with the aim of becoming a separate Dominion within the British Empire. The state government sent a delegation to Westminster to cause the result to be enacted, but the British Parliament refused to intervene on the grounds that it was a matter for the Commonwealth of Australia.

Question: Did the UK Parliament actually consider the matter? I could be wrong, but I think it's more likely the UK Government considered it and made the call that "it was a matter for the Commonwealth of Australia", in which case it would never have come before their parliament at all. Anyone know the real story? -- JackofOz (talk) 06:00, 18 February 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Jackofoz - here is a comphrensive article answering your question ( if you haven't found out already ) --- very interesting . Lejon (talk) 10:33, 12 March 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Update for that link: --Wikiain (talk) 01:22, 13 January 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

New Zealand[edit]

Residual powers over the constitution existed in relation to Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. In 1947, New Zealand adopted the Statute of Westminster and passed the New Zealand Constitution (request and consent) act. The UK parliament then passed the New Zealand Constitution (amendment) act in the same year, hence patriating the New Zealand constitution. No further acts of the British parliament were therefore ever needed in relation to amending the New Zealand constitution. New Zealand became effectively independent in 1947. The New Zealand Constitution act 1986 only involved the New Zealand parliament. This was in contrast to the Canada Act of 1982 and the Australia Act of 1986 which both required parallel legislation in the UK parliament. The New Zealand Constitution act of 1986 actually purported to repeal the very act of the UK parliament which had given New Zealand effective independence in the first place. It did so with the intent of obtaining an independence which already existed anyhow, and had it been effective would actually have had the reverse effect. As it was, it was ineffective, and New Zealand continued to be independent on the basis of the 1947 Statute of Westminster (Adoption) Act which had its authority in the 1931 Statute of Westminster act that was passed by the UK parliament. For a clarification of the issues relating to saving powers for the constitutions of Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, see [1] David Tombe (talk) 13:15, 23 November 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Irish Free State[edit]

The article as it stands reports that the Irish Free State let 24 hours pass before recognising the abdication. Citation please - it was certainly not an Act of the Dáil (Parliament) [see]. Would it have been a Statutory Instrument or similar? --Red King (talk) 20:23, 9 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

It was recognised by statute, I think, but the names of the Acts are a little cryptic! The Constitution (Amendment No. 27) Act removed the King from his constitutional role; this was on 11 December, the same day as the Act of Abdication gained royal assent in the UK. The Executive Authority (External Relations) Act 1936 ([2]) was the one which put Edward VIII's abdication into force "immediately upon the passing of this Act"; it was dated the following day - the 11th. Shimgray | talk | 21:46, 9 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]


UK-specific categories keep getting added to this article (most recently replacing other, less specific ones; i.e. "Category:Bilateral relations of Australia" to "Category:Australia-United Kingdom relations"). This is problematic, since the Statute of Westminster isn't relevant only to the UK's external affairs; it is to all the Commonwealth realms' external affairs with the other Commonwealth realms. The most concise and consistent way of dealing with this seems to be to place this article in all the relevant "Bilateral relations of [country]" categories, in which are sub-categories or articles about that country's relations with other Commonwealth countries (such as "Australia-United Kingdom relations", "Belize-United Kingdom relations", "New Zealand-United Kingdom relations", and all the other aforementioned UK-specific ones). --Ħ MIESIANIACAL 20:40, 6 November 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]


The section "Australia" begins: "However, section nine of the Statute of Westminster allowed the Colonial Laws Validity Act 1865 to have continued application in the six Australian states and the Australian Capital Territory; this allowed the British parliament to continue to pass legislation concerning the states and territory ..." But s 9 mentions only the states. And, if the statement is correct for the ACT (which I doubt), presumably it would also be correct for the other territories, so that they too should be mentioned. Any objection to removing the words "and the Australian Capital Territory" and "and territory"? --Wikiain (talk) 01:18, 13 January 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Irish Free State[edit]

Some tedious back-and-forth suggests a need for Talk: dialogue rather than edit summaries. Here's my take:

  1. "The Irish Free State never formally adopted the Statute of Westminster, taking the view that the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921 had already had the same effect of ending Westminster's right to legislate for the state." It's important to keep related statements together; in this case, McGilligan's statement "It is a solemn declaration by the British people through their representatives in Parliament that the powers inherent in the Treaty position are what we have proclaimed them to be for the last ten years" is directly related and so should not be separated by so much intervening text.
  2. "though it still ended the ability of the British parliament to legislate for the Irish Free State without the latter's request and consent" -- that's the UK viewpoint, which contradicts the IFS viewpoint in #1. I'm not sure where it can best be included. Of course it needs a reference. It would be interesting to know whether there was any mooting of unilateral Westminster legislation for the IFS between 1922 and 1931. There were certainly some in 1932–3 regarding the abolition of the oath, which of course were disregarded precisely because of the Statute of Westminster.
  3. "From the time that the Saorstát Government found themselves free to devote themselves to the task of getting all possible advantages out of the [Anglo-Irish] Treaty position they have worked unceasingly to secure the act of renunciation from the British Parliament. And it must be said that while very valuable help was received from Canada and South Africa the brunt of the task was admittedly borne by our Government" -- this quote is rather long. I replaced it with a paraphrase " It went on to present the statute as largely the fruit of the Free State government's efforts to secure for the other Dominions the same benefits it already enjoyed under the Treaty". There is certainly no need to have both the quote and the paraphrase.
  4. "treaty" is not a proper noun -- Isn't it? "Treaty" in this context is an abbreviation of "Anglo-Irish Treaty". It's capitalised in quote #3 and e.g. Joe Lee's book. But "the 1921 treaty" works just as well, I suppose. The NHI goes with "Anglo-Irish treaty".

jnestorius(talk) 10:13, 8 January 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

2 doesn't need a reference; it's a description of the content of the statute itself. The text in the article now explains how the statute ended the UK parliament's ability to legislate for the Irish Free State.
"Anglo-Irish Treaty" is a proper noun, "treaty" is not. MOS:INSTITUTIONS guides us to not capitalise when the full proper noun isn't used (i.e. "the University" is not a correct way to refer to "the University of Delhi"; "the university" is). --Ħ MIESIANIACAL 05:44, 13 January 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@Miesianiacal:, have you any response to #1 amd #3 ? jnestorius(talk) 15:59, 20 January 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I've removed the long quote again and added some other info and refs. jnestorius(talk) 16:57, 4 February 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]


References to a common allegiance to the "crown" and the unity of the "crown", have been deleted by Wikiain as being outdated, and restored by me. These concepts are mentioned in the Statute and while the Crown in the Commonwealth Realms has evolved over time, it's shared aspect is still an aspect of the legislation which is the subject of this article. The Crown operates (or the Crowns operate) in sixteen different, distinct and separate jurisdictions and we can speak of sixteen distinct institutions. But it also has a shared character, which for clarity, should be explained in the context of the section in which the terms are used in the article. Gerard von Hebel (talk) 00:56, 29 August 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Gerard von Hebel: as I have said, my objection is to speaking of "unity" in a way that was appropriate around 1931 but is now out of date for just the reason that you mention. The single "Crown" to which the Statute refers no longer exists: there is no longer any question of "unity of the Crown", nor of a single "Crown" being subject to a common allegiance. What is shared is no longer "the Crown" but an incumbent of 16 thrones, as well as the rules of succession. Today "allegiance" is territorial, not personal; it may be expressed as personal in these monarchies, for example in oaths of allegiance, but only as formality. (Maybe that's a mainly Australian perspective, but in Australia almost nobody sees the monarchy as currently effecting any kind of unity with any other country.) All this may not be very logical, but it is how common law often operates.
My principal reference point on all of this is Anne Twomey, The Chameleon Crown: the Queen and her Australian Governors (2006). Twomey's central contention (which I believe has been generally accepted, at least in Australia) is that in British imperial discourse the notion of "the Crown" was always chameleon-like, varying in meaning according to context as well as over time. And so it continues. I think that this understanding should be reflected in the article. Probably the best way to achieve that is through brevity rather than canvassing debated options. That was the spirit of my deletions: those deletions leave the issues open, which seems to me to be sufficient. (I trust we can agree, at the very least, not to get here into the horrible disagreements that can be found in the Talk archives of Monarchy of Canada.) Wikiain (talk) 03:13, 29 August 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Hello Wikiain, thank you for your reaction. I’m not familiar with the past discussion on the talkpage of the Canadian monarchy, but to me the constant discussions on the matter of monarchy in the Commonwealth Realms is an indication that there is more going on than the, for want of a better term, politically correct phrases, acknowledge or reveal. The contentiousness of an issue like this is also fed by a lack of lucidity in the constitutional arrangements discussed. The Statute of Westminster, or parts of it are still on the statute books in some CR’s and I think that in other cases, their judicial consequences have not as such been erased entirely, since the situation that the Statute has brought about is still extant in it’s essence. As you may have gathered from my earlier comment, I believe that the Crown(s) under discussion still has / have a shared extra-national aspect, while otherwise being judicially separate. I’d like that to remain somehow acknowledged in this article. I don’t think that the phrases I restored to the article are necessarily “wrong”, but having said that I must agree that they are confusing. I personally like the language from the Commonwealth Realm article, which seems to be well sourced. My proposal would be to change: “if the unity of the Crown is to be retained” with “if the shared aspect of the Crown is to be retained”. The sentence: “and no longer be united through common allegiance to the Crown.” can, as far as I’m concerned, be replaced with: "and no longer be associated by the shared monarch" or even be left out altogether. Gerard von Hebel (talk) 14:51, 29 August 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The situation is explained nicely at Commonwealth realm#The Crown in the Commonwealth realms: "The evolution of the Commonwealth realms has resulted in the Crown having both a shared and a separate character, with the one individual being equally monarch of each state and acting as such in right of a particular realm as a distinct legal person guided only by the advice of the cabinet of that jurisdiction. This means that in different contexts the term Crown may refer to the extra-national institution associating all 16 countries, or to the Crown in each realm considered separately." Hence, there remains a unity to the Crown as a pan- and supra-national institution, though almost entirely now only through the parallel lines of succession. -- MIESIANIACAL 21:51, 29 August 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Thank you also Miesianiacal for your comment. While I agree with your comment, you say that the association between the CR's is now only through the parallel lines of succession. I think that the original intention of the Statute of Westminster (let alone the regulations by other CR's that have made their own regulations since), are not necessarily completely obsolete. I would also like to draw attention to the fact that, while the title of the monarch is regulated separately in every one of her realms, it always includes the entirety of them. In all of her realms she is Queen of Realm X and all the other ones. In Barbados for instance she is "Queen of Barbados and all her other Realms and Territories". Not just the Queen of Barbados period. Basically her different titles for her different Realms all have the same meaning, just differently expressed. That has always struck me as somewhat peculiar but I do suppose it has some meaning towards the historical and institutional background of this whole matter, while not taking away the judicial matter at hand, in which the monarch herself operates in sixteen separate and distinct jurisdictions. Gerard von Hebel (talk) 22:41, 29 August 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Thank you, Gerard and Mies. I like your suggestions, Gerard, and as to the second would prefer just leaving out - for the reasons I offered earlier. Mies seems to be thinking along a similar line and nobody else has contributed, so please feel free to make those changes. By "judicial", I take you to mean "juridical" - though I prefer plain "legal". I think you might enjoy Twomey's book: she traces an absence (which might or might not be a lack) of "essences". Wikiain (talk)
Comment on points above: ...while the title of the monarch is regulated separately in every one of her realms, it always includes the entirety of them... ; and in British imperial discourse the notion of "the Crown" was always chameleon-like; and situation is explained nicely at Commonwealth realm#The Crown in the Commonwealth realms. Just as Elizabeth Windsor's own personal name is not the same as "the Crown", nor is her position and proclaimed style or title as Queen Elizabeth II etc the same in and of each and all of the CRs. She is, of course, one and the same person of living flesh and blood wherever she is, but holding a different position in respect of each realm, like a grandmother who is the same person for everyone, and for all her own children, and for the issue of each one of her children who have ("share") the same two parents, but not, in that sense, the same for the issue of her other children. It could be said similarly, the Crown has become sui juris[3] [4] in the several realms, like the sons of a Roman pater familias who each, if then living at the father's death, becomes a pater familias in his own right. But, happily, the sovereign statehood of CRs has happened in the lifetime of the reigning monarch. Qexigator (talk) 09:23, 30 August 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Thank you all. I've made it so. Gerard von Hebel (talk) 18:07, 30 August 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]


The statement "largely sovereign" is confused - see sovereign state. A state is either sovereign or it is not: it is a rather binary status. For sovereignty a state must have "supremacy in the domestic policy and independence in the foreign one" and also note that "a sovereign state is neither dependent on nor subjected to any other power or state". Whilst a state can choose to follow the foreign policy of an external entity or another state (for example, the members of the European Union) if they have sovereignty they can repudiate that position. A non-sovereign state cannot (for example, the states of the United States).

The Statute of Westminster made the Dominion parliaments fully the masters of their own destiny. Whilst many of them maintained adherence to the United Kingdom's structures for decades afterwards, from the passing of the Statute they had the right to go their own way entirely by their own volition. That is sovereignty. If they had in any way not had that right - if any portion had been reserved - they would not have.

In summary:

  • "largely sovereign" is not a possible state
  • the Statute of Westminster gave full sovereignty to the Dominions

Mauls (talk) 09:59, 5 April 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]

It seems nobody has responded to this for more than a year, but I'll step in: The Statute of Westminster explicitly retained for the British Parliament the ability to legislate regarding the constitutions of Canada and New Zealand. In Canada at least the Canadian government needed to request such legislation, but legally the British Parliament had to act to implement such requests. So in this sense the UK retained a vestige of sovereignty over both states until the 1980s, when their constitutions were patriated. However as far as I know this power was never used or even contemplated as a tool to impose Britian's will on Canada or New Zealand, so the issue quickly became entirely theoretical, and I think it's safe to say that Britain's practical ability to do so was fairly minimal -- attempt by the British government to act in this way almost certainly would have been unilaterally rejected by Canada or New Zealand. So I think "largely sovereign" is a perfectly fine way to capture this situation. --Jfruh (talk) 18:35, 5 November 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Importance in English Constitutional Law[edit]

Constitutional Law 1.01 in England and Wales (Scots doctrine is a bit different) always used to be that Parliament is omni-competent, and can in principle pass pretty much any law it likes, even (classic textbook example) forbidding Frenchmen to smoke on the streets of Paris. Enforcing it would be a different matter, of course.

I don't really have a source to hand, but for many years the Statute of Westminster used to be discussed in constitutional law textbooks in the context of whether Parliament could limit its own jurisdiction, or whether it was - in the realms of legal metaphysics - simply an act of voluntary self-restraint (i.e. Parliament could still in theory vote requiring Canadians to fly the Union Jack instead of the Maple Leaf - it would be perfectly valid law in the UK, but they just wouldn't be able to enforce it in Canada).Paulturtle (talk) 06:56, 5 November 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]