After waiting in eager anticipation for months (as only an aspiring constitutional scholar could), I jumped for joy earlier this week when the British Cabinet Office finally released the first edition of The Cabinet Manual: A Guide to Laws, Conventions and Rules on the Operation of Government. In drafting this officialization of convention, the Cabinet Office conducted a thorough period of consultation with the public and parliament and thus also included Her Majesty’s Government’s responses to the Commons and Lords committees that examined the draft cabinet manual earlier this year. The front cover describes this as the first edition and therefore encourages the creation of subsequent editions that will take into account the ever-evolving precedent and convention. Let us hope that this edition will indeed be the first of many and that this document bequeathed a legacy of the recognition of conventional evolution.
I hope that Her Majesty’s Government will also choose to publish its latest version of its more detailed practitioner’s manual, the Precedent Book, which, as its name suggests, outlines a near exhaustive list of all precedents. (The version from 1954 appears in the documents section on this blog). In any case, the Manual of Official Procedure of the Government of Canada will always serve as the superb exemplar in this category.