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Should the UK have a codified constitution?

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Introduction

Should the UK have a codified constitution? A constitution is a set of rules that establishes how political power should be distributed, the relationship between political institutions, the limits to government, the rights of citizens and how the constitution can be changed. In the UK, we have an un-codified constitution; this means that it is not written down on one single document. However, recently more and more people have become in favour of codifying the constitution. There are many arguments justifying the employment of a codified constitution in the UK, but the most important are to limit the executive and legislative powers, entrench the constitution to protect the people and to modernize the UK politically compared to all other modern democracies that have a codified constitution. In the 21st century, most democracies have a codified constitution with the exception of the UK, New Zealand, Israel and Saudi Arabia. This brings in to question how relevant and up to date the UK's political system is. ...read more.

Middle

This questions how democratic and representative parliament currently is. Many people argue that there is too much power centralised at parliament and Westminster, codifying the constitution would clearly limit Westminster's power and effectively stop Parliamentary sovereignty. However, by limiting the power of Westminster, it would be difficult for parliament to make changes to the law and bypass the red tape of the constitution. In cases of national emergency, where quick decision need to be made parliament would find it difficult to make a decision which does not change the constitution. For example, after the 7/7 bombings in London, parliament was able to pass the Terrorism Act 2006 which allowed suspects to be detained for up to 28 days without charge. In the United States, where the constitution is of such high authority that changes are very difficult, congress takes a long time to approve bills unless it is supported by both the Democrats and Republicans. In the USA, where the constitution is codified, the document is almost worshipped to the point where Americans can quote directly from it. ...read more.

Conclusion

A codified constitution would prevent parliament from doing this and safeguard the rights of the people because it is a 'higher' law as opposed to a 'common' law. On the other hand, a codified constitution would bring the judiciary into politics. The exact meaning of constitutions and how they can be interpreted is often disputed, in the USA this is settled in the Supreme Court resulting in unelected judges having presiding power of the constitution. Critics argue that judges should not have this power, because they have not been elected by the people. What makes them different to a normal citizen politically? Also, the UK Supreme Court is relatively new, and it may not have the reliability compared to other powers such as parliament. The UK should therefore not codify it's constitution due to the many reasons against it, until such a time when codification is needed, the current system should continue to be implemented until there is a wide call for change or the codification of the constitution by the majority of the people e.g. if in a referendum more than 50% vote Yes for the codification of the UK constitution. ...read more.

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