The Theory of the Separation of Powers in UK Government.

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The doctrine of SOP is the appropriate allocation of powers and the limits between the legislature, executives and the judiciary. Each state organ must be rules by different people and each of them have different powers.

The doctrine originated from Aristotle, where he distinguishes the deliberative, majesterial and the judiciary in every constitution. By the 13th century, England’s King, Lords and Commons could be classified in three types of government, monarchies, aristocracies and democracies as per ancient Greece.

In UK today, Montesquieu sees SOP in a different way. He believes there is legislative, executive and judiciary in a constitution. Currently, there is a proper allocation of powers between the three state organs. Furthermore, the SOP doctrine aims to avoid absolutism in power by preventing a monopoly of powers and functions.

Montesquieu also mentions that all would be lost if the same man or same ruling body were to exercise these powers. This shows SOP is important in upholding the rule of law doctrine in the British Constitution. Since there is an unwritten constitution in UK, it is a product of experience and does not recognize strict SOP. For example, the ministerial responsibility convention says that ministers not only implement laws but they are decision makers too. Hence, sufficient SOP results in checks and balances within the British Constitution.

SOP within the Westminster system

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Legislature and Executive

The Queen belongs to the legislature and executive, being the head of executive and part of the parliament despite her diminishing and limited power. The Prime Minister and his Cabinet are executives through s2(1) of the House of Commons Disqualification Act 1975, it limits the number of ministers who can sit and vote in the HOC at any given time. The Lord Chancellor used to be a speaker of HOL, head of judiciary and cabinet representative in the Executive. However due to the enactment of the Constitutional Reform Act 200, he only retains his position in the ...

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