‘in Comparison with the ‘Unwritten’ British Constitution, a Written Constitution Creates a Much More Rational Framework of Power.’

Topics: Separation of powers, Judicial review, Constitution Pages: 2 (685 words) Published: November 16, 2012
‘In comparison with the ‘unwritten’ British constitution, a written constitution creates a much more rational framework of power.’

A constitution is a framework of rules that govern an organisation; it therefore defines the powers, rights, duties and allocates them appropriately to particular departments within the organisation. Britain is one of the few countries with an unwritten constitution, which therefore means it is not contained in a single document, but can be found in Acts of Parliaments, the Common Law or even in conventions. The British constitution has been criticised for not being written as it has been said that ‘a written constitution creates a much more rational framework of power’, however it is debatable as to whether this statement is correct or not. A more rational framework of power would be one that has a clear separation of power. It has been established by Montesquieu, that separation of powers is vital to constitutional success. Lord Mustill has historically stated that, ‘It is a feature of the peculiarly British conception of the separation of powers that parliament, the executive and the courts have each their distinct and largely exclusive domain.’ This therefore emphasises the fact that the essence of a constitution is so power is not centralised in any of the departments. In Britain however, most of the power seems to be in the hand of the Legislature as seen in R v Secretary of State for Transport, ex parte Factortame Ltd and others [1999] All ER (D) 1173. The British constitution have what is called the doctrine of Parliamentary Sovereignty, which is the absolute authority of a parliament to enact, amend or repeal any law it wishes. Lord Hailsham famously described the doctrine in a Richard Dimbleby Lecture on the BBC in 1976 as an 'elective dictatorship', meaning even though members of parliament are chosen by the people; the government can still act as they wish as long as they maintain a majority in the House of Commons....

Bibliography: * Bradley, A., W., and Ewing, K., D., Constitutional & Administrative Law, 15th Edition, 2010, pp 11-15
* Bradley, A., W., and Ewing, K., D., Constitutional & Administrative Law, 15th Edition, 2010, pp 78
* Lord Hailsham Quote, BBC, Richard Dimbleby Lecture transmitted in 1976
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