Constitution of the United Kingdom
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This page was processed by aws-apollo4 in 0. Skip to main content. Copy URL. Abstract On one reading at least, the British constitution is slowly evolving towards, even if it does not yet fully embrace, a model of a 'legal constitution' - that is to say, a constitution distinguished by a framework of fundamental laws that generates judicially enforceable constraints on the legislature. In legal theory, the Queen has absolute and judicially unchallengeable power to refuse her assent to a Bill passed by the two Houses of Parliament.
However, convention dictates the precise opposite and in practice she automatically gives her assent to any government Bill that has been duly passed and agreed by Parliament.
Another important convention is that government ministers must have a seat in Parliament and, in the case of the Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer, specifically in the House of Commons in order to hold office. There is irony in the fact that the United Kingdom today does not have a written constitution, yet historically it has had a rich heritage of pioneering constitutional charters and documentation.
This established the principle that our rulers, at that time the king, could not do whatever they liked, but were subject to the law as agreed with the barons they governed. This simple concept laid the foundations for constitutional government and freedom under the law.
New/altered conventions in the UK’s uncodified constitution
Usage terms Public Domain in most countries other than the UK. In , the Provisions of Oxford, sometimes referred to as the first ever written constitution, provided for a Council of twenty-four members through whom the King should govern, to be supervised by a Parliament.
This was convened for the first time in by Simon de Montfort d. During the constitutional conflicts of the 17th century, the Petition of Right relied on Magna Carta for its legal basis, setting out rights and liberties of the subject including freedom from arbitrary arrest and punishment. This was shortly followed by the Act of Settlement which controlled succession to the Crown, and established the vital principle of judicial independence. This is the earliest representation of the House of Commons.
It is unlikely to be accurate in all its details, but it gives an impression of the tall, narrow and cramped chamber in which the House met. Usage terms Public Domain. Over the past century there have been a number of Acts of Parliament on major constitutional subjects that, taken together, could be viewed as creating a tier of constitutional legislation, albeit patchy in their range and with no special status or priority in law. In fact, the result of the Good Friday agreement was that the majority of people in Northern Ireland should take the decision of whether to support a united Ireland with independent sovereignty or to continue the union with Great Britain GB , and the New Northern Ireland Assembly was elected by virtue of the Northern Ireland Elections Act , to deal with matters dealt with by the Northern Ireland Office departments; finance, agriculture, economic development, education, environment, health and social services.
The Queen remains as the head of British government, thereby symbolising the unity of British sovereignty, and will approve the appointment of Scottish ministers, including the First Minister, who together with the Welsh Secretaries of the Welsh Assembly will need to swear the oath of allegiance to her.
With regard to devolution of legislative authority to England to appoint regional assemblies, there has not been any movement in this respect, and although the government could only consider this by holding a referendum as it would result in constitutional reform, the Regional Development Agencies Act has established the agencies throughout England, which will deal with issues such as economic development, housing, investment and employment.
1, words – Public Law for Everyone
The referendum in established the Greater London Authority, comprising of a London Assembly and Ken Livingstone as the elected mayor, and the issues dealt with include economic development, planning, public transport and topically, the London Olympic Games. The general principle is that wherever British law conflicts with EC law, national legislation should not be applied.
Consequently, there has been an amendment to the concept of parliamentary sovereignty in the UK, particularly since the incorporation of the principles of the ECHR into domestic law by the HRA , and a significant area of legislative power has passed to the EC, although Parliament stills retains the authority whether to leave the EU, which is obviously will not occur with regard to the present government.
In conclusion, the devolution of powers to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland can be argued not to have affected the position of the UK constitution in practice for the reasons provided, though these changes have brought about a change not seen since the end of the eighteenth century, as per Professor King 8.
In particular, the legislative supremacy of Parliament has not been affected, and therefore it can be argued that devolution will not affect the UK constitution. The place of parliamentary sovereignty has also changed since the joining of the EU and the introduction of the HRA , and further changes may occur in the future in this respect. There are attempts being made at reforming and modernising the House of Lords.
In terms of sovereignty, it could be argued that the next step is federa. If you are the original author of this content and no longer wish to have it published on our website then please click on the link below to request removal:. Essay UK offers students a complete range of free resources for undergraduate, post graduate, PhD and professional courses.