Discuss the case for and against a written constitution for the UK

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“Discuss the case for and against a written constitution for the UK”

A constitution is an institution or body, which governs through law and regulation, protects the rights of the people from abuse also legitimizes state governance. It can be either written or unwritten. A written constitution would consist of the most basic law of the country and from also which, other rules and laws are derived hierarchically. It also has to be constantly read in reference to ever-changing social, political and economic circumstances.

An unwritten constitution, adopted by the UK, has an array of rules that has no hierarchy of statutes and are all ordinary. As per AV Dicey mentioned, the UK’s constitutional laws are spread over legal rules like the Magna Cart 1215 and Bill of Rights 1689, and non-legal rules like conventions. It does not have a single document defining the government’s powers and rights.

Separation of powers

In UK, a separation of functions exists between the executive, legislature and the judiciary. However there is no strict separation of powers. F.F Ridley commented in ‘There is no British Constitution,’ that ‘Parliament can make or unmake or unmake any law,’ which shows UK having Parliamentary Sovereignty.

In contrast, a written constitution, like the United States of America (USA), works on the basis of constitutional sovereignty. A written constitution would serve as a point of reference powers, duties and limitation of the three main organs of the state. There is a clear indication of separation of powers between the three state organs, which helps lead the government towards accountability.  However, there is no clear indication as to the separation of powers in an unwritten constitution like in the UK and it undermines access to a clear definition. In my opinion, a clear separation of powers is needed so that there is no overlap of roles and there would not be any disputes between state organs.

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However though UK does not have clear indications as to the separation of powers and overlaps between the state organs do take place, they are able to check and balance each other and thus this helps prevent the abuse of powers, which can be argued that a written constitution does not help prevent abuse of powers by having a clear separation of powers.

The use of conventions

Conventions in the UK are used to govern important constitutional areas like the ‘collective ministerial responsibility’. This convention states that once a cabinet decision has been reached, the Cabinet must stick ...

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