Examine a number of ways in which the United Kingdom Constitution is: (a) similar and (b) different to other constitutions. Constitutions are concerned with the role and powers of institutions of the state and the relationship between the citizen and the state. A constitution serves to define the power of government and act as a guardian of fundamental rights. The premise of this essay is to compare the United Kingdom constitution with constitutions of the United States of America, Australia and France. There is no single document entitled the United Kingdom constitution; this leads some academics to call the constitution unwritten and some claim that the United Kingdom has no formal constitution at all.
In doing so, they formed the great country that became the United States of America. There are many ways that the Magna Carta and the U.S. Constitution are similar in the ways they lay out the government. One example of this is that the Magna Carta forced limitations on the King of England, and established a parliament form of government, to represent the people. This form of government split the lawmaking between an institution of individuals, and the King. This prevented the King from creating selfish laws as he pleased.
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.
Should the UK remain as an uncodified constitution? A constitution is a set of rules that: seek to establish the duties, powers and functions of the various institutions of government; regulate the relationship between and among the institutions; and define the relationship between the state and the individual. There are many different types of constitution. Constitutions can be codified or uncodified, unitary or federal and seen as rigid or flexible. The most common way of comparing classifying constitutions is codified or uncodified.
Recent changes to the UK constitution have raised questions as to whether or not parliament retains its sovereignty as the supreme law making body. These changes include the UK becoming a part of the European Union and the devolution of Scotland and Wales, although theoretically these should not affect the principle of parliamentary sovereignty. Parliamentary sovereignty has always been the basis in the UK constitution. AV Dicey set out the definitive statement of parliamentary sovereignty in his Introduction to the Study of the Law and the Constitution, 1885. This identified three elements to the UK constitution: 1.
The manifesto offered free speech, the right to form political parties and it created a “democratic” elected house of parliament – called a Duma. Despite the fact the Tsar promised all of these things for the people, after he had crushed the revolution he actually did very little to promote what he had promised. This is because he issued the Fundamental Laws, meaning the Tsar's ministers could not be appointed by the Duma, therefore denying the Duma a lot of what had been originally suggested. Furthermore, the Tsar had the power to dismiss the Duma and announce new elections whenever he wished, this further undermined democratic elements in government which showed that Nicholas II was untrustworthy and didn’t keep his promises. The Tsar’s ability to make false promises to the people was a reason for him being able to survive the revolution of 1905 but not of 1907 as people knew by then that he was untrustworthy.
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.
Those parts are referred to as the law of the constitution But important parts of the constitution are nowhere to be found in the law od the constitution. They are called the “conventions of the constitution” and refer to the principles and rules of responsible government. These rules were developed in Great Britain by way of custom and precedent during the nineteenth century and were exported to such British colonies as were granted
How do the government control delegated legislation? To delegate the law-making power to another body can be very risky if there is no control. Luckily the government has several methods for controlling that the delegated legislation is relevant and good. First we have The Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments, known as the Scrutiny Committee and it is made up of MPs and peers. It exists to look at each statutory instrument in detail to make sure that it falls within the boundaries set by the Parent Act and to refer provisions requiring further consideration to both Houses of Parliament.
Does the United Kingdom have a “constitution”? Would good government in the United Kingdom be improved if a legally enforceable written constitution was introduced? The United Kingdom has what many would describe as an “unwritten constitution” whereby there is no specific constitutional doctrine or document in place but instead a culmination of statutes, court judgements and other legal decisions and precedents. The nature and idea of a constitution has proved difficult to define simply, and has led to many definitions being formed by legal professionals, commentators and judges alike. According to The Oxford Law Dictionary a constitution is defined as followed: “The rules and practices that determine the composition and functions of the organs of central and local government in a state and regulate the relationship between the individual and the state” # In essence it would be safe to assume that the idea behind a constitution is to protect the rights of the individual or the citizenry of a state although it is virtually impossible to give a palpable definition for what a constitution is due to many conflicting opinions and views within the legal system.