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British Constitution - Essay Example

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One of the most notable features of the British constitution is its unwritten or non-documentary nature. (Bradley and Ewing, 2003) The British constitution is held to be unwritten as there is no single document or body of documents that could be referred to as the 'the Constitution of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland'…
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British Constitution
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Download file to see previous pages Though the British constitution is conventionally held to be unwritten, a cursory look at the main sources of the constitution provided above by Brazier, reveals that to quite a large extent, the UK constitution has a written nature. The concept of parliamentary supremacy in the British constitution makes the Acts of Parliament superior to any other source of law and as such, Parliament can, and does amend the constitution and creates more statutes that are constitutional in nature. (Loveland, 2006) Whereas other sources of the constitution like conventions and the Royal prerogative are mostly unwritten and reflect accepted norms and practices established over time that are held to be binding, (Barnett, 2006; Durkin and Gay, 2005) they do not come into being on a consistent basis as do statutes. The increasing proliferation of statutes of a constitutional nature (especially under the Labour's constitutional reform programme), thus implies a move in the direction of a more documentary nature of the British constitution.
Consequently, to argue that the United Kingdom is moving towards a documentary constitution is to recognise the largely written nature of the constitution, coming from sources li...
Despite the 'infinite' nature of the British constitution, a panoramic review of statutes of constitutional significance would show the historical trend towards a more written constitution. Acts like the Habeas Corpus Act 1679, the Bill of Rights 1689, the Act of Settlement 1701, Act of Union 1707, the Parliament Acts of 1911 and 1949, Representation of the Peoples Act 1928, Representation of the Peoples Act 1949 and the European Communities Act 1972, all hold important positions in the British constitution and they are all written. (Barnett, 2007)
The coming into power of the Labour government in 1997 and its implementation of the constitutional reform programme has added to the increasing documentary nature of the British constitution. The passing of important statutes like the Human Rights Act 1998, the House of Lords Act 1999, Freedom of Information Act 2000, and the Constitutional Reform Act 2005, are testaments to the move towards a documentary constitution. The various devolution Acts (i.e. the Scotland Act 1998, the Government of Wales Act 1998, and the Northern Ireland Act 1998) have also established in a constitutional and documentary manner the relationship between Westminster and the devolved entities within the context of a unitary state.
Also as Lord Justice Laws opined (obiter) in Thoburn v Sunderland City Council, statutes may be conceived of either in ordinary terms or in constitutional terms. Going by Lord Justice Laws opinion of Acts of Parliament would thus establish a hierarchy of statutes - some ordinary and others 'constitutional statutes'. Thus the more 'constitutional statutes' that Parliament passes would be ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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