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British Constitution - Essay Example

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British Constitution

Most dictionaries give a definition of the constitution as codified. The Black's Law Dictionary is particularly elaborate giving the specifics of a constitution. According to the Black's Law Dictionary, definition of constitution the British constitution applies to this definition to some smaller extent. Most nations have written constitutions, such as constitutions of most modern democracies. The constitution of Britain, by contrast, is unwritten or uncodified. Its traditions are informal and based on several different laws. Unlike other democracies, Britain has no official document that explains the governance of the nation. The lack of a written document links to the British history. Britain never experienced a revolution like other countries, and never had any regime change. Because of this, their constitution continued to evolve for such a long time and this combined with the relative stability of Britain, development of a constitution never occurred. Experts pertaining to constitution usually refer to several laws, treaties and conventions, which they compile to make up a constitution. The several compilations that make up a constitution include Acts of Parliament, Treaties, conventions, Royal prerogative, works of authority, European Union law and the Common law. Their constitution is by standards less democratic, not intelligible and not accountable enough to govern a country in the modern democratic world (KING, 2009). Unlike constitutions of most democracies that dictate distribution of power to various organs, in Britain such power resides in the arms of the crown. Power that is unlimited and unaccountable derives from the crown where the queen exercises some of it and most of it by the government. The queen exercises four constitutional powers. These are only limited to her, and nobody can exercise them on behalf of her. They include the power to chose and appoint the countries prime minister, the power to dissolve a sitting parliament, dismissal of government and the power to withhold royal assent to legislation passed by the Houses of Parliament. The government exercises most of the crown powers in a discretionary manner. The powers are nondemocratic directly inherited from the crown. The powers include making treaties, declaring war and deploying her majesty’s armed forces on missions overseas, employing civil servants and changing terms and conditions of employment, conduct of diplomacy, governing of Britain’s overseas territories and appointing and removing ministers. The others are power to grant honours, appointing peers, claiming the immunity of public interest, and the power to grant and revoke passports (46). In the modern democratic world, the British crown and the government rarely exercise some of the powers. However, legally, they are in existence. For example, In Australia in 1975 the representative of the queen dismissed the democratically elected government. Recently in 2008 in Canada, the Queens representative there engaged the government for several weeks. The representative prorogued the parliament preventing it from carrying out functions that were democratic and constitutional. Such a constitution means that the people of Britain barely exercise such power, which bypasses them, with occasional participation in formal processes such as politics (67).The defining principle of the constitution lies in the parliamentary sovereignty. The parliament is the ultimate lawmaking organ, with power to create and abolish any law. It ...Show more

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Name Institution Course Instructor Date British Constitution According to the American Heritage dictionary, a Constitution is a set of laws and principles that make up a system that allows the definition of nature of a government or institution and states its functions and limits…
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