‘the Absence of a Written Constitution ... Enables Constitutional Change to Be Brought About Within the United Kingdom with the Minimum of Constitutional Formality.’

Topics: United States Constitution, United Kingdom, Royal Assent Pages: 4 (899 words) Published: January 9, 2013
Workshop 1: Preparatory Activities

Activity 1 (essay plan re-done)

‘The absence of a written constitution ... enables constitutional change to be brought about within the United Kingdom with the minimum of constitutional formality.’

Consider the sources of the UK constitution and the methods by which it may be changed. Do you agree with Barnett’s views?

The UK’s unwritten constitution, formed of Acts of Parliament [AoP], Royal Prerogative [RP], Constitutional Convention [CC] and Case Law [CL], prompts much debate about the ease of which constitutional change can be introduced. A written constitution is, by definition and practice, hard to alter however it remains to be seen whether it is any easier to change an unwritten constitution. While the natural answer seems to be that it is easier to alter, practical considerations seem to indicate an opposite reality.

1) Acts of Parliament
a) Easy
i) Parliamentary Supremacy (from Dicey)
(1) Parliament can pass whatever legislation it likes, thus it can introduce or repeal any law as it sees fit (2) No other person or body can change or repeal legislation which Parliament as enacted (a) Unlike under the US written constitution where the judiciary can declare legislation as unconstitutional ii) Technically this means that Parliament could, at any time, add/amend/remove any Act of Parliament, hence altering the constitution (3) Powers given to Scotland through Scotland Act 1998 could be removed iii) Constitutional Reform Act 2005

(4) Altered several important aspects of the constitution, including creating the Supreme Court (5) Did not alter underlying principles and values however b) Hard
iv) Extra ‘non-legal’ factors
(6) Political agenda of government
(7) Public opinion
(8) Economic considerations
v) Acts are historically...
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