Parliamentary Supremacy

Topics: United Kingdom, Parliamentary sovereignty, Magna Carta Pages: 4 (991 words) Published: May 4, 2014
 Farwa Aslam

“In the absence of a written constitution, the UK Parliament is the sovereign law-making power, incapable of limiting its own power, or being limited by an external power.”

In the absence of an unwritten, or rather, uncodified constitution, the doctrine of Parliamentary supremacy (also called “Parliamentary sovereignty”) emerges as a principle factor granting legitimacy to the exercise of government power within the UK. The doctrine of Parliamentary supremacy is a set of rules that determine how courts should approach Acts of Parliament. This includes rules pertaining to how courts should handle contradictory provisions, or Acts, as well as the status attached to an Act of Parliament. This doctrine recognises Parliament as the ultimately supreme, sovereign law-making body within the UK. The rules that construct the doctrine of Parliamentary Supremacy may be found in a number of sources; case law, constitutional conventions, statute law, and the writing of famous academics. The purpose of this essay is to analyse the extent to which the UK Parliament is “the sovereign law-making power, incapable of limiting its own power, or being limited by an external power.”

Anytime the sovereignty of the UK Parliament is mentioned, Prof A.V. Dicey’s classic, three-point definition springs to mind. According to Dicey, a) Parliament has the right to make or unmake any law whatever, b) no Parliament can bind a future Parliament, and c) person or body has the right to override an Act of Parliament. The three points given above summarise the Doctrine of Parliamentary Supremacy (or Sovereignty). Dicey’s first and last points, pertaining to Parliament having the right to legislate on any matter and no person or body being able to override those laws, have been strongly confirmed by UK courts. Judges have repeatedly upheld the principles of Parliamentary sovereignty, in cases and...
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