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Statute of Westminster 1931

Statute of Westminster, 1931
Long title An Act to give effect to certain resolutions passed by Imperial Conferences held in the years 1926 and 1930.
Citation 22 & 23 Geo. 5 c. 4
Dates
Royal assent 11 December 1931
Status: Current legislation
Text of statute as originally enacted
Text of the Statute of Westminster 1931 as in force today (including any amendments) within the United Kingdom, from legislation.gov.uk

The Statute of Westminster 1931 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom and modified versions of it are now domestic law within Australia and Canada; it has been repealed in New Zealand and implicitly in former Dominions that are no longer Commonwealth realms. Passed on 11 December 1931, the act, either immediately or upon ratification, effectively both established the legislative independence of the self-governing Dominions of the British Empire from the United Kingdom and bound them all to seek each other's approval for changes to monarchical titles and the common line of succession. It thus became a statutory embodiment of the principles of equality and common allegiance to the Crown set out in the Balfour Declaration of 1926. It was a crucial step in the development of the Dominions as separate states.

The Statute of Westminster's relevance today is that it sets the basis for the continuing relationship between the Commonwealth realms and the Crown.

The Statute of Westminster gave effect to certain political resolutions passed by the Imperial Conferences of 1926 and 1930; in particular, the Balfour Declaration of 1926. The main effect was the removal of the ability of the British parliament to legislate for the Dominions, part of which also required the repeal of the Colonial Laws Validity Act 1865 in its application to the Dominions. King George V expressed his desire that the laws of succession be exempt from the statute's provisions, but, it was determined that would be contrary to the principles of equality set out in the Balfour Declaration. Both Canada and the Irish Free State pushed for the ability to amend the succession laws themselves and section 2(2) (allowing a Dominion to amend or repeal laws of paramount force, such as the succession laws, insofar as they are part of the law of that Dominion) was included in the Statute of Westminster at Canada's insistence. After the Statute was passed, the British parliament could no longer make laws for the Dominions, other than with the request and consent of the government of that Dominion. Before then, the Dominions had legally been self-governing colonies of the United Kingdom. However, the Statute had the effect of making them sovereign nations once they adopted it.


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