Westminster passes the Alien Act 1705

At Westminster on 29 November 1704, Lord Godolphin, the Lord High Treasurer, explained to the House of Lords why Queen Anne had approved the Scottish Act of Security - which preserved the Kirk, trade and the gains of the 1688 Revolution in Scotland.

He said the Act contained some undesirable elements, but it was essential that any Scottish threat to England's safety should be neutralised.

Economic pressure

The Tories wanted to censure Godolphin for allowing the Act to pass, but the Whigs said that would antagonise the Scots even more by implying that their legislature was inferior to the English. It was far better, they said, to bring union upon the Scots through economic pressure.

Over the next few days Godolphin was deep in negotiations with the dominant group of Whigs - known as the Junto Whigs - in the English House of Lords,  the first step towards the conclusive negotiations of 1706.

Two new Bills

When the Lords resumed their deliberations on Scotland on 6 December, two bills were proposed by Lord Somers, one of the Junto leaders, with Godolphin's support.

One offered fresh negotiations for a full incorporating union, with a single parliament and unified free trade area.

The other, an aliens bill, threatened that unless Scotland agreed to negotiate terms for union and accepted the Hanoverian succession by 25 December 1705, there would be a ban on the import of all Scottish staple products into England.

Scots would also lose the privileges of Englishmen under English law - thus endangering rights to any property they held in England.

Both bills became law early in 1705.

Related information

Lord High Treasurer

Head of the Treasury, at times when it was not run by a Commission (the individuals being Lords Commissioners of the Treasury).

Whig Junto

Group of aristocratic Whig leaders who were trying to make their way into Godolphin's mainly Tory government.

Incorporating union

A form of union between England and Scotland in which there would be a single parliament and an unified free trade area, rather than just a federal union based on trade with Scotland retaining its own parliament.