Unit 2 specimen paper 1


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Unit 2 specimen paper 1

  1. 1. Should the UK’s constitution remain un-codified? (40 Marks)The UK has an un-codified constitution. It derives from a number of sources somewritten others part of accepted conventions. This unique nature has given rise to manybenefits and advantages implying that its nature should not be altered or fully writtenand codified as is the case with most countries.The un-codified nature provides numerous benefits.It is extremely flexible and changes can be introduced swiftly and with relative ease.Its nature is evolutionary, meaning that the constitution does not fossilise and it keepsabreast of the changes in the morals held by society.Its format gains widespread acceptance witnessed by the high degree of contentmentfrom the general public: this is a testimony to its approval and thus a strength and areason not to change format. The conservative argument “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” isoften cited, it works and functions so do not destroy a working model.Civil liberties are well defined and protected under the present constitutionalarrangements.We do not have absolutism in government and the constitution provides process forboth individual and group challenge to the government.However, it is equally possible to provide a case that the UK’s constitution should nolonger remain in its un-codified form.It is argued that the un-codified constitution is too flexible, for Parliament and stronggovernments can change the constitution without constraints.Similarity it is argued that the constitution is antiquated and is not up to date both incontent and its method of operation.Furthermore it is argued that the general public is ill informed as to the nature andoperation of the constitution resulting in the fact that the constitution is ill defined andethereal.Recent events prove that civil liberties are not well defined and tend to be eroded.Pertinent political examples may be referenced to develop and enhance the response.
  2. 2. How effective is Parliament in checking executive power? (40 Marks)The Houses of Parliament have a range of methods by which they scrutinise theexecutive.Questioning is highly relevant and this takes several forms such as Prime Ministerialquestions, Ministerial questions, and written and oral to government Ministers. Should aPrime Minister or government minister fail to impress in these questioning arenas thiscan cause considerable embarrassment or censure to the government.Parliamentary debates take place on salient and contemporary topics wheregovernmental actions are probed. Debates took place on the decision to send troops toIraq for instance.There are formal mechanisms for checking government actions through theadjournment processes and numerous routes to censure and monitor government.Formal opposition days are built into the Parliamentary calendar set aside for theagenda to be determined by the official opposition party.Legislation going through Parliament is scrutinised by standing committees.Departmental Select Committees (DSC) are permanent bodies to check defined areas ofexecutive power. These committees have discovered flaws in executive actions in arange of areas.Ultimately Parliament has the key scrutiny power in that it can ask for a vote ofconfidence in the executive: this was last used in 1979 which saw the fall of theCallaghan Labour government.All of the above mechanisms and procedures ensure that Parliament is wellequipped to check executive power.However it has been suggested that Parliament is less effective than supposed in thearea of checking executive power.Questioning has may identified flaws, PM question time is seen as a charade, with thePM using it as an opportunity for spin and scoring points over the opposition partyleaders.Likewise ministerial questioning is equally seen as a shambles with no real force usedby parliament in the process, Government ministers are not put under any real pressureby the process.
  3. 3. Parliamentary debates are party biased with the Government here and in standingcommittees having an in-built majority to defeat any real or meaningful censure.No special impact arises from the debating process and the procedures are seen asarchaic and out of touch with the modern world.The opposition is limited by time, resources and numbers especially in the Commons toreally check the executive.Legislation may be amended but seldom dropped as a result of the majority usuallyheld by the government.DSC reports are often ignored and lack impact despite their credibility and worth.The process adopted by Parliament is not held in high esteem by the public and it isincreasingly sidelined by the media.Pertinent political examples may be referenced to develop and enhance the response.