The Bill of Rights (a short title) is an act of the Parliament of England, whose title is An Act Declaring the Rights and Liberties of the Subject and Settling the Succession of the Crown. It is often called the English Bill of Rights.
The Bill of Rights was passed by Parliament on 16 December 1689. It was a re-statement in statutory form of the Declaration of Right presented by the Convention Parliament to William and Mary in March 1689, inviting them to become joint sovereigns of England. It lays down limits on the powers of sovereign and sets out the rights of Parliament and rules for freedom of speech in Parliament, the requirement to regular elections to Parliament and the right to petition the monarch without fear of retribution. It reestablished the liberty of Protestants to have arms for their defence within the rule of law, and condemned the James II of England for "causing several good subjects being Protestants to be disarmed at the same time when papists were both armed and employed contrary to law".
These ideas about rights reflected those of the political thinker John Locke and they quickly became popular in England). It also sets out—or, in the view of its drafters, restates—certain constitutional requirements of the Crown to seek the consent of the people, as represented in parliament.
Along with the 1701 Act of Settlement the Bill of Rights is still in effect. It is one of the main constitutional laws governing the succession to the throne of the United Kingdom and—following British colonialism, the resultant doctrine of reception, and independence—to the thrones of those other Commonwealth realms, by willing deference to the act as a British statute or as a patriated part of the particular realm's constitution. Since the implementation of the Statute of Westminster in each of the Commonwealth realms (on successive dates from 1931 onwards) the Bill of Rights cannot be altered in any realm except by that realm's own parliament, and then, by convention, and as it touches on the succession to the shared throne, only with the consent of all the other realms.
In the United Kingdom, the Bill of Rights is further accompanied by the Magna Carta, Habeas Corpus Act 1679 and Parliament Acts 1911 and 1949 as some of the basic documents of the uncodified British constitution. A separate but similar document, the Claim of Right Act, applies in Scotland. The English Bill of Rights 1689 inspired in large part the United States Bill of Rights.
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