Saturday, September 28, 2019

The UK Constitution Essay Example | Topics and Well Written Essays - 1500 words

The UK Constitution - Essay Example Critically evaluate this statement, supporting your evaluation with appropriate examples and authority.† A Constitution is normally defined as the basic framework by which a state is governed. It usually outlines, in broad terms, the powers of a state as well as their limitations vis-a-vis the rights of its citizens. Some of the broad classifications of constitutions are: written or unwritten; republican or monarchical; flexible or rigid; unitary or federal; supreme or subordinate, and; underpin by separation of powers principle or fused powers. 1 The UK Constitution is one of the few constitutions in the world that is characterised as written but uncodified although some see it as unwritten. It is sourced from statutes, judicial decisions, old legal codes, relevant legal textbooks such as those authored by Dicey and Anson, in addition to unwritten ones such as common law and convention. 2 The nature of the UK Constitution, however, cannot be thoroughly understood by a mere ide ntification of these sources, but one must travel back in time and study the country’s history, its type of government and relevant legal concepts such as Parliamentary Sovereignty to fully understand its nature. Moreover, a correct understanding of its nature disproves the criticism that the rules and practices underpinning the government’s operation are unconstitutional because they were not made specifically enforceable by a document. The UK Constitution is characterised as largely written, although some see it as unwritten, but uncodified, a constitutional monarchy, flexible, unitary, supreme, and operates under the fused power principle.3 The fact that it has not been reduced to simple terms in one single written document, however, makes it lacking in simplicity and comprehensiveness. Thes underlying rules and principles of the UK Constitution, therefore, have to be gleaned, extracted and made sense of from a number of sources without guaranty that consensus as to their meaning will be reached. 4 These sources include: the Magna Carta 1215, which clipped the monarchical powers; the Bill of Rights 1609, which created the constitutional monarchy; Act of Union 1707 creating Great Britain by uniting England and Scotland; Representation of the People Act 1832, which restructured the electoral laws of the country; Parliament Act 1911, which reduced the power of law-rejection of the Lords to a two-year delay; Life Peerage Act 1958, reformed the House of Lords; Representation of the People Act 1969, which made 18 the minimum voting age, and; House of Lords Act 1999 that further reformed the House of Lords. 5 Aside from statutes, other sources of the UK Constitution also include prerogative powers or powers traditionally exercised by the Crown, most of which, at present, had been devolved to ministers on behalf of the Crown; judicial decisions or case law; convention, whose informal form often make it a source of disputes; and texts and other seconda ry sources. 6 To assail the constitutionality of rules and principles because of the absence of a document that compels their legal enforceability is to reject the distinction between written and rigid constitutions on the one hand, and customary and flexible constitutions, on the other. It implies a rejection of unwritten, codified and rigid constitutions such as those of the Romans and the ancient Greece, for example. In contemporary times, New Zealand and Israel, aside from the UK, have only partly codified constitutions. 7 The legitimacy of the Westminster model of government implies the legitimacy of the UK Constitution and all appurtenant rules and principles that are necessary for its enforceability. Under the Westminster model, power is concentrated in the hands of the legislature as

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