Constitutional Reform Since 1997 Has Not Gone Far Enough. Discuss.

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  • Topic: United Kingdom, Devolution, House of Lords
  • Pages : 3 (1126 words )
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  • Published : June 7, 2012
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The Blair government since 1997 have introduced many major reforms to the uk constitution, however they have been criticised for not going far enough, or not being completed.

The first major reform to the uk constitution was the introduction of the Human rights act (1998) which enshrine most of the rights states in the European convention on Human rights. This act has safeguarded rights such as the right to life and the right to a fair trial. Prior to this act, our human rights were just included in common law, which can be easily changed. And so, this constitutional reform was a major step forward as it states that any legislation from the British government must be in line with the HRA. And so, UK courts can now declare legislation incompatible and overturn executive decisions, before the HRA human rights cases would have to be taken before the European court of human rights in Strasbourg. However, this reform was incomplete as a new bill of rights and duties was proposed, but no legislation was put forward by the Government. Also, the HRA did not guarantee the citizens rights in the way that it was meant to. Under UK law, there is no way to entrench a law, due to parliamentary sovereignty meaning that the legislative body can change or repeal any legislative acts. If the courts found that a legislation went against the HRA or ECHR, it is not automatically struck, instead parliament can ammend the laws to fit around it. Also, the supreme courts cannot overturn any legislature, so the HRA doesn’t really guarantee the rights of the citizens. For example, for the past 5 years, parliament have been refusing to abide by the ECHR in the area of the right for prisoners to vote. And so, it can be seen that although there was a change to the UK constitution, the lack of an entrenched bill of human rights shows that the reform did not go far enough.

The next major reform was based on the decentralisation of power in the UK government. In 1997 referendums...
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