|This article does not cite any references or sources. (January 2012)|
A legislative council is the name given to the legislatures, or one of the chambers of the legislature of many nations and colonies.
A member of a legislative council is commonly referred to as an MLC.
Legislative councils as constituted, 1945
The authority under which legislative councils have been constituted has varied: some under the prerogative, others by act of parliament, and some by commission and royal instructions.  As at 1945:
- Under the prerogative: Ceylon, Fiji, Hong Kong, Malta, Mauritius, Nigeria, St Lucia, Seychelles, Trinidad, and the legislature of Southern Rhodesia and legislative council of Cyprus.
- Under the British Settlements Act, 1843: Falkland Islands, Gambia, Gold Coast, Kenya, Sierra Leone.
- Under the Foreign Jurisdiction Act, 1843: Northern Rhodesia, Nyasaland, Tanganyika, Uganda Protectorate.
- Under a particular act of the imperial parliament: British Guiana 1928, Dominica, St Vincent, Straits Settlements 1866.
- Under commission and instructions to the governor under the old empire, and self-amended in exercise of constituent powers of a representative legislature: Antigua, Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, British Honduras, Montserrat, St Kitts,
- Brunei: Legislative Council of Brunei (unelected; dissolved but re-established in 2004)
- Ceylon: Legislative Council of Ceylon (1831–1931; dissolved to form the State Council of Ceylon)
- Falkland Islands: Legislative Council of the Falkland Islands (1845–2009; reconstituted as the Legislative Assembly of the Falkland Islands)
- Gibraltar: Legislative Council of Gibraltar (1950–1969)
- Hong Kong:
- Legislative Council of Hong Kong (1843–1997; the legislature of the British Crown colony/dependent territory of Hong Kong)
- Provisional Legislative Council of Hong Kong (1997–1998, the first legislative council of Hong Kong after becoming a Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China)
- Legislative Council of Hong Kong (the legislature of Hong Kong reverted to its original name after the 1998 Hong Kong general election)
- Malaysia: Federal Legislative Council of Malaya (1948–1957; replaced by the Parliament of Malaya and subsequently in 1963, the Parliament of Malaysia)
- Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha: Legislative Council of Saint Helena
- Singapore: Legislative Council of Singapore (1946–1953; replaced by the Legislative Assembly of Singapore and finally the Parliament of Singapore)
- Straits Settlements: Legislative Council of the Straits Settlements (1867–1946; replaced by the Legislative Council of Singapore and the Federal Legislative Council of Malaya)
- Uganda: Uganda Legislative Council (became the National Assembly of Uganda in March 1962)
- Zaire: The Legislative Council (Conseil Législatif) was the name of the unicameral legislature of Zaire from July 1972 until July 5, 1990, when Law No. 90-002 was adopted, after which it was renamed "National Assembly." Note that while Zaire: A Country Study gives the name as "National Legislative Council," the constitution itself (at least before July 5, 1990) gives the name "Legislative Council."
Part of a bicameral legislature
- Barbados: Barbadian Legislative Council (renamed the Senate of Barbados in 1964)
- Bermuda: Bermuda Legislative Council (renamed the Senate of Bermuda in 1968)
- Legislative Council of British Columbia (1867–1871)
- Legislative Council of Lower Canada (abolished by the 1840 Union Act)
- Legislative Council of Manitoba (abolished in 1876)
- Legislative Council of New Brunswick (abolished in 1892)
- Legislative Council of Nova Scotia (abolished in 1928)
- Legislative Council of Prince Edward Island (amalgamated into the Legislative Assembly of Prince Edward Island in 1893)
- Legislative Council of Quebec (abolished in 1968)
- Legislative Council of the Province of Canada (abolished at the Canadian Confederation)
- Legislative Council of Upper Canada (abolished by the 1840 Union Act)
- India: The Vidhan Parishad (or Legislative Council) in seven of the twenty-eight Indian states (Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Jammu and Kashmir, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh), the Vidhan Parishad serves as the upper house of a bicameral legislature
- Isle of Man: the Legislative Council of the Isle of Man
- Dominion of Newfoundland: the Legislative Council of Newfoundland (dissolved with the creation of the Commission of Government in 1934; not recreated after Newfoundland joined Canada in 1949)
- Jamaica: Legislative Council (replaced by Senate of Jamaica in 1962)
- New Zealand: New Zealand Legislative Council (abolished in 1951)
- United States:
- Delaware Legislative Council: the upper house under the Delaware Constitution of 1776 (since 1792, the Delaware State Senate)
- New Jersey Legislative Council: the upper house under the 1776 New Jersey Constitution (since 1845, the New Jersey Senate) and New Jersey Supreme Court
- South Carolina Legislative Council: the upper house under the 1776 South Carolina Constitution (since 1778, the South Carolina Senate)
Nonpartisan legislative support agency
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (April 2013)|
In American English, the term "legislative council" has developed a radically different meaning since the 1940s.
Today, it refers to a joint committee with members from both houses of the state legislature, which supervises a staff of attorneys, accountants, and researchers charged with providing strictly nonpartisan support services to the legislature or to particular committees. Such legislative councils, by that name, exist in the states of Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, Texas, and Wisconsin. Several states prefer to use the term "commission" for the same thing, including New Jersey and Nevada.
A few states, like California, have a "legislative counsel," not "council," who is appointed by a vote of the entire legislature and is thus responsible to the body as a whole rather than a "council" within it.
- Wright, Martin. Appendix 9 in "The Development of the Legislative Council 1606-1945", in the series "Studies in Colonial Legislatures" edited by Margery Perham of the Institute of Colonial Studies, Oxford, England (Faber & Faber, 1946)
- Meditz, Sandra W. and Tim Merrill (ed.), Zaire: A Country Study, Chapter 4 - Government and Politics, "The Legislature
- "COMPLETE TEXT OF THE ZAIRIAN CONSTITUTION AFTER THE ENACTMENT OF LAW NO. 90-002 OF JULY 5, 1990 CONCERNING THE MODIFICATION OF CERTAIN PROVISIONS OF THE CONSTITUTION", Article 72
- Constitution de la République du Zaïre, articles 72–92. Source: Journal Officiel de la République du Zaïre (N. 1 du 1er janvier 1983)
- Wilson, James Oakley (1985) [First ed. published 1913]. New Zealand parliamentary record, 1840–1984 (4 ed.). Wellington: V.R. Ward, Govt. Printer. pp. 145–147. OCLC 154283103.