Statute of Westminster

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Westminster, Statute of,

1931, in British imperial history, an act of the British Parliament that gave formal recognition to the autonomy of the dominions of the British Empire and was in effect the founding charter of the British Commonwealth of NationsCommonwealth of Nations,
voluntary association of Great Britain and its dependencies, certain former British dependencies that are now sovereign states and their dependencies, and the associated states (states with full internal government but whose external relations are
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. It declared that the Commonwealth was a free association of autonomous dominions and Great Britain, bound only by common allegiance to the throne, and specified that the British Parliament might not legislate for the dominions except at their request and subject to their assent and that the dominion legislatures were on an equal footing with that of Great Britain. The statute implemented the work of various meetings of the Imperial ConferenceImperial Conference,
assembly of representatives of the self-governing members of the British Empire, held about every four years until World War II. The meetings prior to 1911—in 1887, 1897, 1902, and 1907—were known as Colonial Conferences, and were chiefly
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, which had recognized the virtual independence of the dominions that came into being as a result of World War I and the peace settlements thereafter.
References in periodicals archive ?
The assent of certain Commonwealth countries to changes in matters affecting regency pursuant to the Statute of Westminster 1931, is not required.
At a conference of Commonwealth heads of government meeting (CHOGM) in Perth, Australia in October 2011, the UK--as well as the heads of the 15 Commonwealth countries required to assent to changes to succession pursuant to the Statute of Westminster 1931 (see 1 (g))--agreed that this gender restriction should be removed as well as the restriction on the sovereign marrying a Roman Catholic.
As noted in 4, at a conference of Commonwealth leaders in Australia in October 2011, the UK--as well as the heads of the 15 Commonwealth countries required to assent to changes to succession pursuant to the Statute of Westminster 1931 (see 1 (g))--agreed that the restriction on gender in respect of succession should be removed together with the restriction on the sovereign marrying a Roman Catholic.
See also KC Wheare, The Statute of Westminster and Dominion Status (4th ed, 1949) 82, 149-52 and ch 12; RP Mahaffy, The Statute of Westminster 1931 (1932) and RTE Latham, The Law and the Commonwealth (1937).
The preamble states: 'Whereas his majesty by his royal message of [10th December 1936] has been pleased to declare that he is irrevocably determined to renounce the throne for himself and his descendants, and has for that purpose executed the instrument of abdication set out in the schedule to the Act, and has signified his desire that effect thereto should be given immediately: And whereas, following upon the communication to his dominions of his majesty's said declaration and desire, the Dominion of Canada pursuant to the provisions of [s 4] of the Statute of Westminster 1931 has requested and consented to the enactment of this Act, and the Commonwealth of Australia, the Dominion of New Zealand, and the Union of South Africa have assented thereto'.
103) Bogdanor, above n 30, 45: 'The provisions of this [the Declaration of Abdication] Act were required, by convention, first laid down in 1930 and confirmed in the preamble to the Statute of Westminster 1931, to be given the consent of the other members of the Commonwealth.
Cf Q Edwards, The Canon Law of the Church of England: Its Implications for Unity (1988) Ecclesiastical Law Journal 1(3), 18, 22 (argues that the Statute of Westminster 1931 would not apply to other Commonwealth countries, save for Australia, Canada and NZ).