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A legislative council is the legislature, or one of the legislative chambers, of a nation, colony, or subnational division such as a province or state. It was commonly used to label unicameral or upper house legislative bodies in the British (former) colonies. However, it has also been used as designation in other (non-Commonwealth) nations. A member of a legislative council is commonly referred to as an MLC.
In the United States, a legislative council has a different connotation, and means a council within a legislature which supervises nonpartisan support staff.
In the British Empire, the authority under which legislative councils have been constituted has varied: some under the prerogative, others by acts of parliament, and some by commission and royal instructions. Particularly, unicameral or the upper house in a bicameral legislature (where traditionally many members were appointed by Governors, rather than elected) were given the designation "legislative council".
List of legislative councils
|Brunei Darussalam||Legislative Council||Unicameral||1959||Suspended in 1984, reconvened in 2004|
|Hong Kong||Legislative Council||Unicameral||1843||Established under the British Hong Kong era; Provisional Legislative Council 1997–98|
|Isle of Man||Legislative Council||Upper House|
|Saint Helena||Legislative Council||Unicameral|
In India, the Vidhan Parishad is another name for the Legislative Council in those states with bicameral legislatures.
|Australia||New South Wales||Legislative Council||Upper House||1824||Unicameral until 1856|
|Australia||South Australia||Legislative Council||Upper House||1840||Unicameral until 1857|
|Australia||Tasmania||Legislative Council||Upper House||1825||Unicameral until 1856|
|Australia||Victoria||Legislative Council||Upper House||1851||Unicameral until 1856|
|Australia||Western Australia||Legislative Council||Upper House||1832||Unicameral until 1890|
|India||Andhra Pradesh||Legislative Council||Upper House||1958||Abolished between 1985 and 2007|
|India||Bihar||Legislative Council||Upper House||1912||Unicameral until 1920|
|India||Karnataka||Legislative Council||Upper House||1956|
|India||Maharashtra||Legislative Council||Upper House||1960|
|India||Telangana||Legislative Council||Upper House||2014|
|India||Uttar Pradesh||Legislative Council||Upper House||1935|
|Antigua and Barbuda||Legislative Council||Unicameral||Established under instructions to the governor|
|Bahamas||Legislative Council||Unicameral||Established under instructions to the governor|
|Barbados||Legislative Council||Unicameral||Established under instructions to the governor|
|Bechuanaland Protectorate||Legislative Council||Unicameral||1961||1965|
|Bermuda||Legislative Council||Bicameral||1612||1980||Originally a single thirteen-member Council combined Executive (cabinet) and Legislative functions. Established under Royal Charters to the London Company in 1606, 1609, and 1612, and to the Somers Isles Company in 1615, transmitted via the Governor. Elected lower House of Assembly held first session in 1620, with Council becoming upper house. The Council split in 1888 into an Executive Council and a Legislative Council. Colonial legislature was updated to the Westminster system in 1968. Executive Council was renamed the Cabinet in 1973, and is now formed from Members of the majority party in the House of Assembly. Legislative Council was renamed the Senate of Bermuda in 1980, and is now composed of five Members recommended by the Premier, three by the Leader of the Opposition, and three by the Governor acting in his own discretion, all appointed by the Governor.|
|British Columbia||Legislative Council||Unicameral||1867||1871|
|British Guiana||Legislative Council||Unicameral||1928||1961||Established by an act of parliament; abolished between 1953 and 1954.|
|British Honduras||Legislative Council||Unicameral||Established under instructions to the governor|
|British India||Imperial Legislative Council||Bicameral||1861||1947||Unicameral until 1920|
|British Virgin Islands||Legislative Council||Unicameral||2007|
|Ceylon||Legislative Council||Unicameral||1833||1931||Established under the prerogative|
|Cyprus||Legislative Council||Unicameral||Established under the prerogative|
|Dominica||Legislative Council||Unicameral||Established by an act of parliament|
|Falkland Islands||Legislative Council||Unicameral||1845||2009||Established under the British Settlements Act, 1843|
|Fiji||Legislative Council||Unicameral||Established under the prerogative|
|Gambia||Legislative Council||Unicameral||Established under the British Settlements Act, 1843|
|Gold Coast||Legislative Council||Unicameral||Established under the British Settlements Act, 1843|
|Kenya||Legislative Council||Unicameral||1907||1963||Established under the British Settlements Act, 1843|
|Lower Canada||Legislative Council||Upper House||1791||1841|
|Malaya||Federal Legislative Council||Unicameral||1948||1957|
|Malta||Legislative Council||Unicameral||Established under the prerogative|
|Manchukuo||Legislative Council||Unicameral||1934||1945||Puppet state of the Empire of Japan|
|Mandatory Palestine||Legislative Council||Unicameral||1922||1923|
|Mauritius||Legislative Council||Unicameral||Established under the prerogative|
|Montserrat||Legislative Council||Unicameral||2011||Established under instructions to the governor|
|New Zealand||Legislative Council||Upper House||1841||1950||Unicameral until 1853|
|Newfoundland||Legislative Council||Upper House||1833||1934|
|Nigeria||Legislative Council||Unicameral||Established under the prerogative|
|Northern Rhodesia||Legislative Council||Unicameral||Established under the Foreign Jurisdiction Act, 1843|
|Nyasaland||Legislative Council||Unicameral||1907||Established under the Foreign Jurisdiction Act, 1843|
|Papua New Guinea||Legislative Council||Unicameral||1951||1963|
|Portuguese Guinea||Legislative Council||Unicameral||1963||1972||Became the Legislative Assembly|
|Portuguese West Africa||Legislative Council||Unicameral||1922||1972||Abolished between 1926 and 1955|
|Province of Canada||Legislative Council||Upper House||1841||1867|
|Romania||Legislative Council||Consultative||1923||1948||Established under Article 76 of the 1923 Constitution and retained under Article 72 of the 1938 Constitution|
|St Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla||Legislative Council||Unicameral||Established under instructions to the governor|
|St Lucia||Legislative Council||Unicameral||1832||1967||Established under the prerogative|
|St Vincent||Legislative Council||Unicameral||Established by an act of parliament|
|Seychelles||Legislative Council||Unicameral||1962||1970||Established under the prerogative|
|Sierra Leone||Legislative Council||Unicameral||Established under the British Settlements Act, 1843|
|Solomon Islands||Legislative Council||Unicameral||1960||1970|
|Southern Rhodesia||Legislative Council||Unicameral||1898||1923||Established under the prerogative|
|Straits Settlements||Legislative Council||Unicameral||1866||Established by an act of parliament|
|Swaziland||Legislative Council||Unicameral||1964||1967||Established in the Constitution of 1964|
|Trinidad and Tobago||Legislative Council||Unicameral||1925||1961||Established under the prerogative|
|Tanganyika||Legislative Council||Unicameral||Established under the Foreign Jurisdiction Act, 1843|
|Turks and Caicos Islands||Legislative Council||Unicameral||2006|
|Uganda||Legislative Council||Unicameral||1920||1962||Established under the Foreign Jurisdiction Act, 1843|
|Upper Canada||Legislative Council||Upper House||1791||1841|
In American English, the term "legislative council" has acquired a slightly different meaning since the 1930s. 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. The concept of the legislative council was first developed in Kansas and was implemented by the Kansas Legislature in 1933. Eventually, a majority of U.S. states adopted legislative councils, but under a variety of names. Kansas still uses a legislative council, although it was converted into the Kansas Legislative Coordinating Council in 1971. Legislative councils operating under that name exist in the states of Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, Texas, and Wisconsin. Several states 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).
- "General Information". Bermuda Parliament. Government of Bermuda. Retrieved 6 August 2021.
- "Saint Lucia - Access Government". Saint Lucia - Access Government.
- Teaford, Jon C. (2002). The Rise of the States: Evolution of American State Government. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 153–157. ISBN 9780801868894. Retrieved 25 August 2014.