Professor KC Wheare defines the constitution of a state as: “… the whole system of government of a country, the collection of rules which establish and regulate or govern the government.” The evolving nature of the UK constitution implies that it is somewhat straightforward for the government to alter the constitution and adapt it to ever changing times. The constitution of the UK is extremely distinct, as it is not set out in a specific document, which establishes the rules of the state, therefore it is often deemed uncodified. The fact that the full UK constitution cannot be found in one specific document, leads many to argue the flexibility and therefore, instability, of the UK constitution, as it is susceptible to change over time. In comparison, the constitution of the United States is codified and present in an easily obtainable document. In order to implement change in the US constitution, therefore, there is a much stricter protocol to follow.
According to the principle of parliamentary sovereignty, Parliament is the only body that can make law for the UK. No other body can overrule or change the laws which Parliament has made. The principle of parliamentary sovereignty however cannot be found in statute law, it is part of another source of the constitution, common law. The reason it is not part of statute law is that Parliament can pass, change, or repeal any law it likes and is not bound by laws of previous Parliaments. Therefore if parliamentary sovereignty was an Act of Parliament it would be possible for Parliament to repeal it and destroy the principle.
‘Assess the strengths and weaknesses of the UK constitution’ The UK constitution is currently un-codified and has been since the constitution was introduced after the glorious revolution in 1688 and the UK government gained Parliamentary sovereignty. As our constitution is not written down, it is therefore not entrenched and is purely based on historical conventions and traditions. This can be inferred to show that the UK has a two-tier legal system, meaning that there are two levels of law. Higher laws that consist of constitutional arrangements as well as lower laws that consist of judiciary concerns. There are not many un-codified constitutions in the world, although there are many advantages of a country adopting an un-codified constitution.
The separation of powers is the separation of the legislative, executive and judicial functions of governments. In the US the separation is reached by extensive checks and balances. The most significant operation in the separation of personnel meaning that no member can be part of more than branch which differs from the UK where for example the Prime Minister is part of the executive and the legislative branch. It helps the system in a way that the separation of powers is a safeguard against tyranny as no individual or group is able to dominate the political system through control of more than one branch. It also means that members of Congress are not elected on a joint mandate as members of a prospective government, as would be the case in a parliamentary system, but to represent the interests of their districts and states, and on a separate mandate from the president.
“Constitutional reform since 1997 has not gone far enough.” Discuss. I agree with the view that constitutional reform since 1997 has not gone far enough to a large extent. The House of Lords Act of 1999 has reformed the House of Lords, the Human Rights Act of 1998 was an important area of constitutional reform, as well as the Freedom of Information Act of 2000 and the devolution of powers. The electoral system used in the UK has also been subject to discussion over reform however all constitutional reform can be said to have not gone far enough. The House of Lords Act of 1999 removed all but 92 hereditary peers from the House of Lords.
This describes that the legislative branch does not have power over any other branch of government; there is checks and balances always occurring throughtout the government.”Within Cogress, there is a further check on legislative power: for legislation to passed, a majority in each chamber of Congress is required” (Patterson 51). Patterson exemplifies the point of how no one soley has power of another person. Our Founding Fathers wanted equality and freedom of an opinion which is what the United States of America is attempting to do everyday. “ The major function of Congress is to enact legislation”(Patterson 410). The head
The UK has an unwritten constitution unlike the U.S.A. It is misleading to call the British constitution unwritten; a more precise form of classification would be un-codified. This means that the British constitution has no single document, which states principles and rules of a state. However, The British constitution clearly sets out how political power is allocated and where it is legally located. The British constitution is still visible and it defines composition and powers of the main offices and institutions of the state.
The UK constitution is somewhat unique in that it is one of only three states to have an uncodified constitution (the others being New Zealand and Israel). The constitution has several strengths and weaknesses because of this, which will be discussed in detail. Firstly, and on the positive side of the argument, the UK constitution is highly flexible and adaptable because of its uncodified nature, which allows constitutional arrangements to be altered in line with social and political changes. This capacity stems from the fact that there is no judicial review in UK courts. The rules of the constitution are not contained within a single document, unlike the United States’ constitution, which means that the ability to alter or remove statute laws, conventions or works of authority is far greater because no higher constitutional law is more difficult to change than ordinary law.
Firstly on of the fundamental features of democracy is that it establishes and protects freedom. Democracy should ensure that no government can threaten freedom unless it is with the expressed consent of the people. This is certainly true of the United Kingdom as the European Commission of Human Rights Parliament remains sovereign. Also the UK signed up to the Social Chapter of the European Union which guarantees a variety of employment and other economic rights. However, Parliament is sovereign and civil rights and liberties have been put suspended but only in the interests of law and order or national security.
Elective dictatorship is a big issue when discussing uncodified constitutions. As there are no laws discussing the separation of the executive, legislature and judiciary powers in UK, an example of this was the Lord of Chancellors who sat within all three of the powers. America’s written constitution states there needs to be a separation of powers, meaning Obama the President has control over the sword however no control over the purse. This stops elitism and kleptocracy, whereas the UK doesn’t have any laws against this. However on the other hand a separation of powers undermines the idea of political sovereignty, because even though they have gain legitimate power, they are not able to run the country as they wish in terms of financial and economic policies.