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Constitutional convention

A Constitutional convention is a convention that is followed by the Parliament in (for instance) British constitutional law. While Britain does not have a written constitution that is a single document, the collection of legal instruments that have developed into a body of law known as constitutional law having existed for hundreds of years. An example of such a convention in Great Britain is the requirement that all money bills must be tabled in the House of Commons. Such conventions also exist in other Commonwealth parliamentary democracies such as Canada under the British North America Act of 1867 (also known as the Canadian Constitution) which was an act of the British Parliament which created the nasceant Canadian Parliament even though by convention it was agreed to by the Fathers of Confederation who were representatives of the various colonies of British North America. So while it had been signed by these individuals on March 29, 1867 it did not enter into force of law until it was signed by the British monarch as an Act of Parliament.

As part of this unwritten British constitution, constitutional conventions of British constitutional law play a key role. They are rules that are observed by the various constituted parts though they are not written in any document having legal authority; there are often underlying enforcing principles that are themselves not formal and codified. None the less it is very unlikely that there would be a departure of such conventions without good reason, even if an underlying enforcing principle has been overtaken by history, as these conventions also acquire the force of custom. For instance, the convention about money bills mentioned above was once enforced by the Catch-22 fact that a government could not apply enough force to get the taxes it needed without cooperation, unless it first had even more funds to pay for that force; it is now merely customary, but it underlay much of British constitutional development in the 17th century. See royal prerogative.


Also, a special conference (Convention) in order to address constitutional matters and give reform efforts further legitimacy; in British constitutional law the "Convention Parliament" of the late Stuart[?] era may perhaps be considered one of these. Canada also had a constitutional convention attended to by the Fathers of Confederation. See Constitutional Convention.



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