Civil Liberties in The United Kingdom - Democracy


  • Slave Trade Act 1807, abolished slave trade in British Empire, following William Wilberforce led Parliamentary campaign
  • Great Reform Act of 1832, enfranchising slightly more property holders, rationalising the borough and county seat system.
  • Slavery Abolition Act 1833, abolished slavery in British Empire
  • Bird v Jones (1845) 7 QB 742, right to liberty, freedom of movement (across bridges)
  • Second Reform Act of 1867, loosening the property qualification, extending the franchise to around a third of men.
  • Conspiracy and Protection of Property Act 1875, decriminalising trade union activity (freedom of association).
  • Beatty v Gillbanks (1882) 9 QBD 308, the Salvation Army wanted to campaign against alcohol with the help of a brass band in Weston Super Mare. Local brewers formed a so-called "skeleton army", and threatened to disrupt the march with force. The police, fearing for public order told the Salvation Army to call it off, but they went ahead. Then the police forced them, by breaking up the brass band. Field J in the High Court held that there was no right of the police to do so. The Salvation Army was associating "for religious exercises among themselves, and for a religious revival". No one could "say that such an assembly in itself an unlawful one". Stopping the march would be like saying "that a man may be convicted for doing a lawful act - there is no authority for such a proposition."
  • Trade Disputes Act 1906, removing liability in tort for trade unions going on strike, after the House of Lords in a series of cases invented ways to bankrupt unions for any action.
  • Nairn v The University Court of the University of St Andrews, (1907) 15 SLT 471, 473, per Lord McLaren, it is "a principle of the unwritten constitutional law of this country that men only were entitled to take part in the election of representatives to Parliament."
  • Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants v Osborne AC 87, per Lord Shaw and Lord James, any contributions by trade unions to Members of Parliament were "unconstitutional and illegal". Reversed by the Trade Union Act 1913.
  • Representation of the People Act 1918, allowing universal male suffrage for over 21s, and the vote for women over 30.
  • Representation of the People Act 1928, universal suffrage over 21.
  • Liversidge v Anderson AC 206
  • Crofter Hand Woven Harris Tweed v Veitch AC 435, right to collective bargaining.

Read more about this topic:  Civil Liberties In The United Kingdom

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