Magna Carta

Hansard shows Magna Carta has often been cited in parliamentary debate. In 1930, during discussions about the Hairdressers’ and Barbers’ Shops (Sunday Closing) Bill, the Labour MP for Glasgow St Rollox, James Stewart, who had been a hairdresser since the age of 14, called the legislation “the Magna Carta for our trade”.

In 1939, Buckinghamshire county council bought the Magna Carta estate and the health minister Walter Elliott informed the House that the rateable value was £163. In 1950, the Labour MP Edward Mallalieu asked the attorney general if he was aware that: “Though since Magna Carta Englishmen have had certain rights, it was only after the passing of the Legal Aid and Advice Act they were able to enforce them.”

In 1965, defending new legislation for trade disputes, the labour minister Ray Gunter reminded the House: “The working class was not consulted when Magna Carta was drawn up. That was a special effort between the king and his barons.”

This article first appeared in the 08 October 2012 issue of the New Statesman, Conservative conference special