1. and the relationships between the different institutions

 

1.

 

Although kings
statement is true, ‘Constitutions…are
never…written down in their entirety’, most countries do have at least a single
document that outlines the most important principles, which is the highest
source of law that the legislature must observe, whereas the UK does not have
any such document.

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2.

Starting with what a
constitution is, the House of Lords Select Committee defined it in 2001; “the set of laws, rules and
practices that create the basic institutions of the state and its component and
related parts, and stipulate powers of those institutions and the relationships
between the different institutions and between those institutions and the
individual.”1

A constitution has three main roles. First they establish
the authority and power of each political body, how they will relate to one
another and how the relationship between them can be altered. For the UK, this
is where the separation of powers comes in. the bodies being; the executive (the government
and civil service), the legislature (which makes laws but does not administer
them) and the judiciary (which adjudicates what is lawful when this is
disputed). Secondly, constitutions should define the rights and freedoms
of the individual. For example, the right to free speech, the right to liberty,
or freedom from torture. Finally, a constitution should express the aims for
the country’s society. The aim could be to be liberal and non-fascist as it is
for Germany, or for the United States its “life, liberty and the pursuit of
happiness”2,
although this appears in the declaration of independence not in the US
constitution itself.

 

Although
the British constitution contains written sources such as statutes, it is one
of few in the world that is not codified into a single document, or collections
of documents (Israel,
New Zealand, Saudi Arabia (though the basic law of Saudi Arabia states that the
Qur’an is the constitution), San Marino and Canada also lack a single document
which outline a constitution). However, the UK does have what is called an
uncodified constitution, meaning that it is spread among many separate
documents as oppose to just a single one. The Constitution of the UK is built
upon Acts of parliament, court judgement and other legal principles. Many basic
rules which are part of the UKs constitution do not exist legally at all, and
simply rely on unwritten understanding or traditions. It is said that a reason the
UK does not have a codified constitution is because it lacks a critical moment
in its history that would encourage the codifying of a constitution, such as a
revolution.

The British
constitution can be seen to be made up from many different sources, fundamentals can be seen in
documents such as; the
Magna Carta 1215, Human rights, the Bill of Rights 16883, the Constitutional Reform
Act 2005, Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010. Further principles
would be drawn from the rule of law, parliamentary supremacy and the separation
of powers. Also many principles arise from the continued development of common
law. The UK constitution is often
described as an ‘unwritten constitution’, but it is best described as ‘partly written and wholly
uncodified’ (Budge et al, 1998)4.

 

 

3.

Advantages to
the current state of the constitution is that it has a wide scope for
flexibility, adaptation and development. … means that the constitution can
develop easily over time and can adapt to the changing views of society.

As many parts
of the constitution arise from different sources there is the possibility that
conflict could occur between different sources making rights of the individual
even more unclear.

There is less chance of
conflict within a single document than having several different sources of
information.

However the
constitution as it stands is extremely complex, which makes it very hard for
any lay person to fully comprehend and be totally sure of their rights.

Some unwritten conventions that are considered
constitutional rules remain unclear or ambiguous, including some that are of
serious national importance.
As an example, there has been debate over the existence of any constitutional
rule that parliamentary approval is needed before the government enters into armed conflict abroad or
starts arming opposition groups in foreign countries. On issues like this that
can be so important there should be clarity which a written and codified
constitution would be able to provide.

The
constitution should be intelligible and accessible to all, not just the
political or legal elite. Having a codified constitution would hopefully mean
that many of the different parts would come together and can be observed within
a single document. Meaning that the ordinary person would be far more able to find
and understand their fundamental rights.

Creating a codified constitution would make … far easier
access and understand.

It is said that
a codified constitution would make it clear and understandable for the public to
know what rules and regulations the government is accountable to.

Creating a codified
constitution would build peoples confidence in the political system by showing
clear and defined controls that ensure integrity and standards.

 

 Some say that with the constitution as it is,
it is too easy for governments to implement legislation simply for their own
agenda without reasonable or obvious limitations.

 

The absence of a constitution the precedes parliament
means that the government can easily amend points within the constitution, …
too much power. An advantage to codifying the constitution and having an entrenched document would
be to have a source of law higher than parliament that would be a control on
the executive power by making it accountable. the constitution would be more stable as
it will be more difficult to amend

 

Having a codified constitution makes it far more
difficult for parliament to make changes to legislation, which may be consider
good and bad. Parliament would have a harder time interfering with peoples
rights, which may be good, but it also means that as society develops and views
changes, parliament will be less able to legislate accordingly, resulting in an
out of date constitution that people don’t believe in anymore.

 

An issue with
having a codified constitution is that it can cause conflict with an evolving
culture. For example, there is a lot of talk over the need for change to the
second amendment of the U.S constitution (the right of the people to keep and
bear arms5), this was written in 17876. Since being drafted and
signed much has changed with reference to the availability of firearms and the
public view of the need and use of firearms. A large increase in the discussion
about this argument is to do with the high rates of gun related crime in the
U.S. The issue is the U.S government has a lot of trouble with whether they can
or otherwise should make changes as doing so may make the power of the
constitution appear weaker.  

 

A large reason as to why the UK should not codify its
constitution is that it would be extremely hard and very time consuming to do,
given that the constitution is spread so wide and is so complex. Furthermore,
it would be naïve to think that the main political parties could agree on what
the constitution should and should not include. Each party would want a
constitution the agrees with their political direction.

As the government of the time would be the ones writing
the constitution, it would also be wrong to let a single instance of government
create limitations or controls for future governments to obey. This would go
against one of the fundamental principles of parliamentary supremacy: “Parliament
cannot bind its successors as to the content, manner and form of subsequent
legislation” as said by A.V Dicey

 

 Nonetheless, if it were to be codified, it
would be a definite step towards depriving the constitution of one of its most
important characteristics:its flexibility. The flexibility, which the British
constitution is recognized for

Therefore, even though it is suggested that
codifying the constitution would lead to further accountability, balance,
stability and clarity, the current constitution already holds these positive
aspects. Additionally, as stated by Barber in Parpworth (2012) Britain’s
constitution has been a success for years and has produced a stable government
in terms of democracy, transparency, and human rights. Therefore, the British
constitution should not be codified because this would only bring practical
difficulties, constituting a substantial step towards depriving the British
constitution of its flexibility

1 https://owlcation.com/social-sciences/what-is-a-constitution

2 https://www.archives.gov/founding-docs/declaration-transcript

3 http://www.legislation.gov.uk/aep/WillandMarSess2/1/2/introduction

4 http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/bbc_parliament/2561719.stm

5 http://constitutionus.com/

6 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/u-s-constitution-signed