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The Advantage of the UK Constitution

Info: 1193 words (5 pages) Essay
Published: 20th Aug 2019

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Jurisdiction / Tag(s): UK Law

The UK has an unwritten constitution, meaning Britain’s laws and policies are developed through statutes, common law, convention, as well as the E.U law. This means that the British constitution has no single document, which states the countries principles or rules. Unlike an unwritten constitution, a written constitution includes all the above rules and practices, and it formulates them into a single document. However, The British constitution clearly sets out how the states political powers are legally allocated. Therefore it makes constitution visible and it defines its powers of the main offices, institutions and organisations of the state.

The Constitution is based on the rules and practices that determine the composition and functions of the organs within the central and local government in a state. It also regulates their relationship between an individual and the state. The United Kingdoms constitution is largely unwritten, consisting of statutes, common law rules and the constitutional conventions. Whereas, the united States of America adheres to the Bill of Rights [1] , the equivalent to a written constitution. The most famous written constitution is the first three articles of the Constitution of the USA 1789. (Carroll [2005] p1).

Constitutional conventions are practices relating to the exercise of their functions by the crown, the government, parliament and the judiciary. Although these are commonly followed they are not legally enforceable they may be lost with time through the decisions of a countries leader, this risk could be utterly destroyed through codification by replacing conventions and consensus with contract and law in a written constitution.

An unwritten constitution is based on convention which has the advantage of being extremely adaptable or flexible. Since it is unwritten, it can be changed easily to deal with new situations at any point in time. All that is necessary for the practises to be changed is for Parliament to agree that change is necessary. Although the old constitutional and its practises do not have to become ancient history in any circumstance, as long as the democratic processes are in place and Parliament and the Judiciary act as elected guardians, then in many ways the British Constitution appears more fitted to reflect a changing world. As in The European human rights Act which relates to provisions that were incorporated into UK law in 1998.

The unwritten Constitution changes to reflect the times in which we live and can be easily amended to keep up with society’s changes. Unlike codified constitutions, which are known to be written and therefore entrenched, there is no special procedure for the amendment. It is changed similarly to any statute law, however in the US for example, they need a two thirds majority in congress and three quarters’ of the states needs to approve the decision. Although in the U.K the unelected judiciary has no key political constitutional role. Only the elected Parliament can decide on the constitutionality of laws and actions. It produces a strong government that can make key changes if necessary. No law has historical precedence over any other, constitutional laws and statute laws hold the same importance.

The fusion of powers could be said to give more of a balance, with the separation of powers the judiciary or legislature are known to be unbiased meaning they need not know about the different departments within the political state.

Therefore it can be said that the constitution within the U.K is flexible, adapts to change, allows for enumeration of rights in times of peace and their withdrawal in times of war, is not a product of history, it also allows radical change such as devolution without taking too much time as it does in some countries. In saying that the Constitution is at an advantage for the country as a whole, it can also be said the it can cause problems to an extent as it has no formal protection of rights, it can be easily changed over by legislative governments such as the Labour present [1997] [2] , it can also lead to a constitutional crises, it has no distinction of roles of various branches of government, it can be abused and it is far harder to understand.

The Constitution can be said to carry out risks meaning if it has to place limits on the government or to set out the parameters within which governments must operate, the fact that it can be adapted by government can eventually become problematic. What was appropriate in the past may become out of date, obsolete and inappropriate in present day. Although the mere fact of the constitution being written into a formal constitution may hinder or prevent a timely or rational change.

Having a written constitution could make clear what the state and its agencies can and cannot do, what their responsibilities are, what they could be held accountable for and could also specify the extent of their powers. This would prevent the government from cutting back on its accountabilities and responsibilities through the privatisation of national firms. It would also make any executives and private firms that have taken over national services accountable for their mistakes.

The constitution would increase the sovereignty of the electorate and the judicial system and cut back also on the governments sovereignty as the government can alter an unwritten constitution very easily by simply passing an act, suggesting. One of the provisions of a written constitution on the other hand is that it can only be altered by following strict procedures. Having a written constitution would give the public and courts more power and control over the decisions made as to the running of the country.

The United Kingdom is also the only member of the EU without a written constitution and having a referendum, introducing a written constitution and its implementation would cost the tax payer a lot of money that could be spent else where. As this is bound to anger the impartial citizen as many people are unaware what an unwritten constitution actually means. Many believe that the United Kingdoms constitution is outdated with a lack of overall agreements between its statutes, common laws and conventions. The constitution is meant to be the main backbone on which power, control, order and authority are built upon and maintained by.

I would see that having a written Constitution could be more as a negative, with the basic fact that levels of superiority vary greatly across the board and it gets very difficult to judge whether the laws have been broken, or whether they simply have been misinterpreted. A codified constitution offers clear levels of superiority, whereas an uncodified one might not. (1099 words)

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