This essay will seek to analyse the doctrine of the separation of powers and the importance of its presence within a constitution. Particular emphasis will be placed on identifying how this idea is incorporated into the United Kingdom’s (UK) constitution and the effect that recent developments of constitutional reform such as the introduction of the UK Supreme Court in place of the House of Lords has had. The doctrine of the separation of powers is an idea that can be seen in writings as far back as the time of Aristotle. This concept states that any constitution relies on the ‘three pillars of state’ which are the executive, legislative and judiciary. Montesquieu formulated this concept in the eighteenth century and in ‘L’Esprit des Lois’ wrote; “All would be lost if the same man or the same body of principle of men, either of nobles, or of the people, exercised these three powers: that of making laws, that of executing public resolutions, and that of judging the crimes or the disputes of individuals.” Montesquieu’s writing sums up the idea that if in any constitution at one time, more than one of these powers are controlled by the same ‘man’ or ‘body of men’ then the power instigated becomes arbitrary and to effect a dictatorship. These three powers can be seen within the UK’s constitution, the Government (executive), Parliament (legislature) and the Courts (judiciary). The UK has been criticised suggesting that there is no separation of powers within our constitution due to its un-codified and thus unclear nature making it hard to establish three independent bodies. This was the case for a number of reasons; firstly within the UK there are overlaps between the so called ‘powers of state’ an example of this is the set-up of government. Members of the Prime Ministers Cabinet are also Members of Parliament who have executive powers aside being able to vote in parliament, that in turn creates a direct overlap between executive and legislative powers. This can be...
Bibliography: • Neil Parpworth, Constitutional & Administrative Law (6th Edition, Oxford University Press, 2010).
• Anthony King, The British Constitution (Oxford University Press, 2007).
• Jeffrey Jowell and Dawn Oliver, The Changing Constitution (6th Edition, Oxford University Press, 2007).
• Vernon Bogdanor, The New British Constitution (Hart Publishing, 2009).
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• accessed 07/01/2011 15:36.
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