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Should Conventions Be Made Law in the UK?

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´╗┐Conventions, in their own right, have a significant place in the constitution of the United Kingdom; despite being separate from the law and possessing only non-legal power, they allow a vast degree of control over the administrative responsibilities of the government. The degree to which the spirit of conventions can be enforced has always been a question of debate, as has the exact nature of that spirit. In their unwritten and uncodified form, conventions leave a great deal to be decided by contemporary views and the opinions of those in Parliament, which allows them to be both dynamic and reflective of current times. The questions remains, however, of whether this set of social rules ought to be provided the force of law, and by doing so, adopting them, with a certain degree of permanency, into the constitution of the United Kingdom. To determine whether conventions should be made into law (in their entirety or otherwise) ...read more.


It raises a number of issues, chief amongst them the question as to which conventions will be made into law and which will not. The political implications of such a choice are many, considering the almost bipartisan nature of the UK Parliament. Where one party might see a convention as illustrative of modern needs, another might consider it outdated and not suited to becoming law. The Australian experiment in the 1970s resulted in a similar problem concerning the exact power of the conventions and their functions. What is to happen to those conventions which are not incorporated during the codification process? The Australian experiment led to the conclusion that the elegance of conventions lay in their flexibility and capacity to adapt with changing times. Even through the act of codification, the Parliament would fetter whatever dynamic nature conventions have by stating clearly where the boundaries lie; it would rid them of the nuances made available in their uncodified form. ...read more.


It will be in the hands of judges to punish members of Parliament and the executive who are seen to have failed to perform some duty or another that would have previously fallen under the purview of conventions. The provision of legal force to conventions would most certainly lead to a more thorough understanding of government regulation and perhaps provide a more stringent balance to governmental power. However, I believe not all conventions should be made into law. Codifying conventions will lead to conflicts as to which conventions are to be incorporated and will reduce their variable nature and capacity to accommodate changing times. Sir Ivor Jennings stated that conventions provide the flesh that clothe the dry bones of the law. He also said they kept the legal constitution in touch with the growth of ideas. By giving conventions statutory force, the Parliament will deprive it of that quality. Conventions can serve their purpose only by remaining unenforceable rules of conduct rather than laws written in stone. ...read more.

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