8. strengths of a uk constitution


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8. strengths of a uk constitution

  1. 1. L2.10: Strengths of a UK Constitution  To identify strengths of the UK Constitution  To reflect on your learning in this unit and consider what further questions you have
  2. 2. abcdefghijklm nopqrstuvwy You must say one word associated with the British Constitution starting with the letter chosen on the board. If you fail to do so within ten seconds you go to the right hand side of the room, if you do say a correct word then go to the left hand side. The winning team is the one with the most words associated with the UK Constitution
  3. 3. http://www.ucl.ac.uk/constitution-unit/research/uk-constitution Constitutions organise, distribute and regulate state power. They set out the structure of the state, the major state institutions, and the principles governing their relations with each other and with the state‟s citizens. Britain is unusual in that it has an „unwritten‟ constitution: unlike the great majority of countries there is no single legal document which sets out in one place the fundamental laws outlining how the state works. Britain‟s lack of a „written‟ constitution can be explained by its history. The British Constitution has evolved over a long period of time. It has never been thought necessary to consolidate the basic building blocks of this order in Britain. In other countries, many of which have experienced revolution or regime change, it has been necessary to „start from scratch‟, constructing new state institutions and defining in detail their relations with each other and their citizens. Instead, Britain has a mixture of various statutes, conventions, judicial decisions and treaties which collectively can be referred to as the British Constitution. It is thus more accurate to refer to Britain‟s constitution as an „uncodified‟ constitution, rather than an „unwritten‟ one.
  4. 4. It has been suggested that the British Constitution can be summed up in eight words: What the Queen in Parliament enacts is law. This means that Parliament, using the power of the Crown, enacts law which no other body can challenge. Parliamentary sovereignty is commonly regarded as the defining principle of the British Constitution. This is the ultimate lawmaking power vested in a democratically elected Parliament to create or abolish any law. Other core principles of the British Constitution are often thought to include the rule of law, the separation of government into executive, legislative, and judicial branches, and the existence of a unitary state, meaning ultimate power is held by „the centre‟ – the sovereign Westminster Parliament. However, some of these principles are mythical (the British constitution may be better understood as involving the fusion of executive and legislature) or in doubt (Parliamentary sovereignty may now be called in question given the combined impact of Europe, devolution, the Courts, and human rights). The British Constitution is derived from a number of sources. Statutes are laws passed by Parliament and are generally the highest form of law. Conventions are unwritten practices which have developed over time and regulate the business of governing. Common law is law developed by the courts and judges through cases. The UK‟s accession to the European Communities Act 1972 has meant that European law is increasingly impacting on the British Constitution. The UK is also subject to international law. Finally, because the British Constitution cannot be found in any single document, politicians and lawyers have relied on constitutional authorities to locate and understand the constitution.
  5. 5. An uncodified constitution creates two problems. First, it makes it difficult to know what the state of the constitution actually is. Second, it suggests that it is easier to make changes to the UK Constitution than in countries with written constitutions, because the latter have documents with a „higher law‟ status against which ordinary statute law and government action can be tested, and are only amendable via elaborate procedures. The flexibility of the UK constitution is evident from the large number of constitutional reforms since 1997, including the abolition of the majority of hereditary peers in the House of Lords, the introduction of codified rights of individuals for the first time in the Human Rights Act 1998, and the devolution of power to the regions. Arguably, however, these recent constitutional reforms may have made the constitution less flexible in some respects: it is debatable, for instance, whether the devolution settlements could ever be repealed. For an overview of the UK system of government visit Directgov. For in depth notes on a range of constitutional issues see the House of Commons Library.
  6. 6. Each group will be given one of the paragraphs 1. Turn the content of the paragraph into a text aimed more at your age group (or perhaps years 10 and 11) 2. Include illustrations so that it would be easier to understand quickly.
  7. 7. “My Auntie‟s - cat likes it” PRIZE for the most relevant/real/ realistic reasons will not count!!
  8. 8. How many decent questions can you generate that you could ask a Constitutional expert in one minute from what you know so far. Choose a question from the questions (the one you find most interesting) and prepare a response
  9. 9. L2.10: Strengths of a UK Constitution  To identify strengths of the UK Constitution  Recap the list of strengths -Reflect on your learning in this unit - Consider how your awareness and thinking has changed since studying this unit on the Constitution?