- parliamentary sovereignty
- fusion of powers
A constitution is a set of rules that;
• Seek to establish the duties, powers and
functions of the various institutions of
• Regulate the relationship between and among
• Define the relationship between the state and
the individual; i.e. define the extent of civil
“We cannot trust the government or,
for that matter, anyone who has
power over us.”
A constitution is the solution to the problem of
power. (Power tends to corrupt, so we need to
be protected from those in power).
Without a constitution the government could
simply do whatever it wants – oppressing
minorities, violating freedom, tyrannising the
mass of the people.
A form of government in which government
power is subject to limitations and
checks, providing protection for the individual;
the opposite of arbitrary government.
Origins of the UK Constitution
• Where has the UK constitution come from?
• How has it evolved?
Features of the UK Constitution = PUUFF
Fusion of powers
• Sovereignty means supreme, unrestricted
• In this case, the absolute and unlimited
authority of Parliament which can in theory
make, repeal or amend any law.
• This type of constitution is not confined to
one single document.
• Much of it may be written down, but in a
variety of documents.
• This is known as an uncodified constitution or
an unwritten constitution.
Written & Codified
• This type of constitution is
found in one single
document, which outlines the
structure of the constitution
and the organisation of the
• This is also known as a
codified or written
• In this type of constitution and system of
government, ultimate power lies with a central
body which is sovereign. Theoretically, in
Britain, it is parliament that is sovereign. It has
the legal authority to make and repeal laws, to
delegate powers to local or regional authorities.
• The opposite is a federal constitution, where
legal sovereignty is shared between government
at the centre and the constituent ‘states’ e.g.
Fusion of Powers
• This is where the executive branch and
legislative branch of government intermingle.
• E.g. David Cameron is both a member of the
legislative branch (MP for Witney) and the
executive branch (Prime Minister)
• E.g. Vince Cable is both a member of the
legislative branch (MP for Twickenham) and
the executive branch (a member of the
• This type of constitution is one where changes
can take place without a lengthy special
procedure e.g. Parliament can simply pass
another Act of Parliament.
• The opposite of flexible is rigid; where
changes can only take place as a result of a
special constitutional amendment procedure.
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