The British Parliament Was Once Supreme. Discuss with Reference to Britain’s Membership of the Eu and Its Obligations to the Echr.


The British Parliament was once supreme. Discuss with reference to Britain’s membership of the EU and its obligations to the ECHR.


It has been suggested that the British Parliament was once supreme (or sovereign) but that its supremacy has been eroded as a result of Britain’s membership of the EU and its signature of the ECHR. In order to examine this proposition, it is necessary to consider the origins or traditional doctrine of Parliamentary supremacy and differing theories of supremacy. This essay will also consider evidence that Parliamentary sovereignty has suffered severe trammelling due to obligations arising from membership of the EU by enumerating the specific issue of partial entrenchment. The essay will also consider Britain’s signature of the ECHR in the same light.

The origin of Parliamentary sovereignty began with the reduction in the King’s prerogative powers which brought about a correlative rise in the sovereignty of Parliament. From 1688, the supremacy of Parliament over the Crown was established and from this time the prerogative powers of the Crown continued, abolished or curtailed as Parliament determined. Diplock LJ stated in BBC v Johns (1965) that no new prerogative powers may be claimed by the Crown. The traditional doctrine of Parliamentary sovereignty as put forward by A.V Dicey includes firstly, the notion that the legislative ability of the UK Parliament is unlimited, in the sense that its powers to make laws on any subject matter are not open to any challenge. An example is Parliament’s ability to legislate on altering its term of office. Under the Parliament Act of 1694, the life of Parliament was limited to three years, fearing the effects of an election; Parliament passed the Septennial Act, extending the life of Parliament to seven years. The Septennial Act under a written constitution such as the United States would be legally invalid. However, Dicey argued ‘Parliament made a legal though unprecedented use

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