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The Reason Why: The English Constitution and the Latent Promise of Liberty in the History of Accounting

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In 1215 Magna Carta determined freedom from executive oppression, or liberty, as the essential principle of the English Constitution and parliament as the bulwark against executive attempts to diminish the liberty of individuals. This constitutional precedence of liberty was confirmed after the Revolution in 1688 by the constitutional settlement which strengthened the financial accountability of the executive to parliament. Regular accounting for military expenditures especially became a critical component of the new accountability measures. Despite the overwhelming significance of liberty for the English Constitution and the contributions of accounting to preserving liberty, public sector accounting continues to attract few accounting historians. As a consequence, the vast historical resources contained in British Parliamentary Papers and the records of parliamentary debates continue to go largely unnoticed by all but a few accounting historians.

Keywords: British Parliamentary Papers; English Constitution; Public sector accounting research

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: School of Accounting and Finance, University of Wollongang, NSW, Australia

Publication date: 2007-07-01

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