Should Britain have a written constitution?

Topics: Separation of powers, Constitution, Judicial review Pages: 3 (942 words) Published: November 29, 2013
At present in Britain we have no written constitution, but instead have a collection of laws and conventions that govern our political system. Along with Israel, we are one of only two democracies in the world not to have a written constitution. A more precise way of describing our constitution is that it is uncodified, which means that parts of it are written down but it is not a single authoritative document or set of rules.

The main argument against a written constitution is that Britain has survived very well without one and that the strength of an unwritten constitution is its ability to evolve according to circumstances because it is not set in stone. As well as being flexible, the current system also has a number of informal checks and balances built into it, mostly based on convention, so that there is a degree of balance between the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government, which suggests a written constitution would be unnecessary. An example might be the practice of Parliament not commenting on sentences handed down by the courts.

Another argument against a written constitution is that it would have to be relatively vague in places to allow it to evolve with society, and as a result would be constantly open to judicial interpretation. This would cause problems because unelected and unaccountable judges would be able to overrule an elected Parliament, thus undermining its sovereignty. Judges are also unrepresentative of the public and might interpret the law in a biased way. These reasons show that a written constitution would be undesirable.

It could also be argued that a written constitution is unachievable because politicians on the left and right would disagree massively over what exactly it should contain. It would thus be extremely time consuming to reach agreement on the content of a codified, as there would be a variety of different views about the powers of each branch of government, and the rights and obligations of...
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