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1. The Constitution


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1. The Constitution

  1. 1. The Constitution
  2. 2. The Constitution • • • • Definition Purpose Origins Features - parliamentary sovereignty - uncodified - unitary - fusion of powers - flexible
  3. 3. Definition A constitution is a set of rules that; • Seek to establish the duties, powers and functions of the various institutions of government • Regulate the relationship between and among the institutions • Define the relationship between the state and the individual; i.e. define the extent of civil liberty
  4. 4. Purpose • Why are constitutions so important?
  5. 5. “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.
  6. 6. Limited Government A form of government in which government power is subject to limitations and checks, providing protection for the individual; the opposite of arbitrary government.
  7. 7. Origins of the UK Constitution • Where has the UK constitution come from? • How has it evolved?
  8. 8. Features Features of the UK Constitution = PUUFF Parliamentary sovereignty Uncodified Unitary Fusion of powers Flexible
  9. 9. Parliamentary Sovereignty • Sovereignty means supreme, unrestricted power. • In this case, the absolute and unlimited authority of Parliament which can in theory make, repeal or amend any law.
  10. 10. Uncodified • 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.
  11. 11. Written & Codified • This type of constitution is found in one single document, which outlines the structure of the constitution and the organisation of the state. • This is also known as a codified or written constitution.
  12. 12. Unitary • 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. USA.
  13. 13. 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 Cabinet)
  14. 14. Flexible • 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.