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Politics-Constitution

Extracts from this essay...

Introduction

1) A constitution is a set of rules laws and practices that set out how a state should be governed. 2) A codified constitution; is a "written" constitution that all rules and laws can be found in a single document for either reference of be used a guideline. The USA is an example of a country with a codified constitution. An uncodified constitution; is a constitution that not all rules and laws are found in a single document. The United Kingdom is a country that has an uncodified constitution. Arguments for codified ('written'): limit power of Parliament/Executive, even worse when we have a unitary not a devolved federal system, avoid elective dictatorship, protect and guarantee human and individual rights, say in Bill of Rights as part of a codified constitution, create separation of powers not fusion of powers. Arguments for uncodified: evolution makes more flexible. Written constitutions are entrenched and become dangerously out of date. Codified give too much power to judges who are unelected, unaccountable, and unrepresentative. Content is arguable - what should be in it? Existing guarantees in convention, documents and so on. 3) There are 5 sources of the UK's uncodified constitution: * Statute law: which is law created by parliament, which is the House of Commons and House of Lords together (and the monarch)

Middle

through the Whips * Central government controls local government. 5) Sovereignty is legal supremacy, law-making authority that is not subject to a higher authority. 6) Parliamentary sovereignty is the doctrine that parliament is the supreme law-making body in the UK and its decisions cannot be overturned by any higher authority. Although this maybe debated as the EU has sovereignty over the UK and if the UK doesn't abide by the rules they face getting kicked out. 7) The constraints of parliamentary sovereignty 8) Parliament would be seen as the place that has most sovereignty as it is where the HOC, HOL and the monarch meet. Parliamentary sovereignty traditional theory in UK - can make or repeal any law It chooses, not bound by previous Parliaments etc. -Parliament can make any law e.g. could postpone general elections beyond five years; can repeal any law; Cannot bind its successors; no other body or person can override its decisions. This challenged by EU law as it is superior, or if there were to be a sovereign EU Constitution it would be able to override UK law. Also devolution, the transfer of sovereignty to Scotland, or Wales, or Northern Ireland, or English regions. As Parliament could revoke devolved powers or withdraw from EU, then in theory Parliament is still sovereign, but in practice these are not practical ideas.

Conclusion

However, the UK still retains ultimate sovereignty in the way that Parliament can choose to withdraw from the EU in a strictly legal sense at any time. It also can be argued that the primacy of EU law has curbed the dangers of an elective dictatorship. However there are also other issues to consider. UK judges can act on behalf of the European Court of Justice and suspend UK laws until a ruling is made. This in a way does undermine the flexibility of the Constitution, and reduces the influence of convention. But, it does promote a separation of powers which is generally lacking in the UK Constitutional system. It must be noted however that the UK accepted this with the Treaty of Accession. Another issue to consider is the loss of national veto with the extension of Qualified Majority Voting. Ministers have to share political power with other EU members, for example over agriculture, fisheries and the single market. This again has affected UK Parliamentary power and has made the UK Constitution in a way, more entrenched. The way in which the EU has extended its policy competency areas also highlights this, with areas that were originally the preserve of national governments, for example, home affairs, foreign policy etc, now falling under EU control. This jeopardises Parliament as the sole sovereign body and challenges the UK rule of law. And the UK uncodified Constitution remains in a delicate situation. RICHARD TALABI -

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