The Salisbury Convention

Following on from my previous piece, a friend has advised me that the Lords are constitutionally incapable of rejecting a manifesto commitment. As indeed they are, under the so-called Salisbury Convention.

(Goodness knows why the government should object to the Lords rejecting a bill when they themselves think they should be able, without problem, not to comply with international law, but I’ll leave that to one side….)

In fact the Lords are (highly ironically) in the position of actually sustaining the Tory manifesto. Here is the relevant extract from page 53 of their 2019 manifesto:

So as I’ve said before – the Lords could still just save us.

Government is, it seems, hoist by its own petard…

The trouble is that the rest of us who, allegedly, voted for this, are currently likely to be similarly affected.


  1. Bill Hughes -

    Johnson “forgot” what was in the EU withdrawal agreement regarding N Ireland so he has now the same excuse for forgetting what was on page 53 of his own manifesto upon which he was elected in good faith by the British people and is now breaking his word ,(as usual with Cumming’s backing)…

  2. Ross Johnson -

    This idea that the Conservatives honour or have ever honoured conventions and understandings when they don’t want to is naive in the extreme. Back in the mid-sixties, the Labour Government under Wilson had been elected with a manifesto that included nationalisation of the shipbuilding industry. Whatever the merits of this, the House of Lords rejected the enabling act, and Wilson did not have the votes or the time to make this into a constitutional crisis.
    At the time, I asked a senior conservative who was giving a sixth-form lecture to my school about the application of the Salisbury convention in this case. His answer, “It isn’t relevant; Salisbury is dead”.

    1. Peter May -


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