Characteristics and Sources of the British Constitution

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The main characteristics of the British Constitution are as follows: • It is based on the idea of the United Kingdom as a unitary state, in that the United Kingdom is governed as one entity, where sovereignty lies with the central government of Westminster. Any duties and decisions exercised by representatives at a subnational level is determined by the extent of powers Westminster chooses to delegate. This is in comparison to the nature of a federal state, where the central government shares joint sovereignty with the representatives of the member states. • The British Constitution in general is uncodified ie not organised in a single codex or document. Instead, it is mostly unwritten, and usually scattered amongst many different sources. As such, there is a lack of an authoritative or definitive text to define the framework on the manner the country is run. • It is evolutionary rather than revolutionary, in the sense that the Constitution has simply developed in accordance to the needs as perceived at that time by the society e.g. women’s right to vote. • Structure of the legislature is bicameral ie split into two houses, the House of Commons and the House of Lords. This allows for an internal balance within the legislature to prevent excessive concentration of power, as well as to allow different perspectives to be adopted in each chamber so that the law-making process isn’t one-sided. • It is subject to amendment under the parliamentary system, where the Parliament has supreme legislative authority to amend the Constitution whenever it is required, thus giving rise to its flexible nature. • As such, it can also be said that the Constitution is political, as it is ultimately the Parliament that shapes the constitution based on the manifesto of the majority party, and a simple majority in Parliament can easily amend it. • The guiding principles of the
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