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Constitutional Law - Essay Example

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Constitutional Law

One of the most significant differences, that is evident from the evaluation of the constitutions of the United States and the United Kingdom, is that one is codified and the other is not. The US constitution has a physical existence whereby it is written down and is accessible to virtually anybody in the US to refer to. Contrary to this, the UK constitution is regarded as being uncodified as it has not been formally established in a "bill of rights" format. However, these judgements of the constitutions are only accurate to a certain extent. The origins of both constitutions explain why they are different in structure due to the organic development of the UK constitution, comprised of conventions, acts and authoritative works, and the establishment of the US constitution in 1789 following the "years of weakness and chaos resulting from the pre-existing Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union which loosely bound the colonies together since 1778". However, although the UK constitution is generally regarded as being unwritten, there is evidence to suggest that this is not entirely correct. For example, Walter Bagehot wrote a book entitled "The English Constitution", an authoritative work. However, the only problem with this was that the day after it was published an act was passed, immediately resulting in it being outdated. Similarly, any laws that are passed in Britain immediately become part of their constitution, which suggests that the UK constitution cannot be deemed as uncodified.
We must first look at the fact the UK has parliamentary democracy, and has the monarchy as the head of state. When looking at the monarchy we must state that its powers are strictly limited by parliamentary sovereignty and by constitutional restraints, the monarchy has hardly any political role. The argument against this is there is hardly any restraint on the parliament itself, except before the time before an election, however the role of law states that all are equal under the law and the government must respect the laws when making decisions and taking action, this shows that there is a constitution, and the government recognises the fact that there are constitutional principles they must adhere too. However, parliamentary sovereignty means that parliament has ultimate political authority, it may not be overruled and can pass a law of any kind, yet it cannot pass laws that will require further parliaments to adhere too.
However, there are arguments that under the British 'constitution' there is too much power within the hands of the central government, and especially the prime minister who can act under the royal prerogative, for example he can declare war without needing the parliament's approval. Also, the Collective Cabinet responsibility states that all ministers must not disagree with government policy in public; if they do they are likely to be dismissed or asked to resign. This proves that the government is too secretive and neglects to inform its citizens of many things, although the Freedom of Information act allows to citizens to see most information stored about them, it does not allow them to see everything.
Although devolution has taken place in the sense of the Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland Act, power is still too centralised, for example in the military forces, and it seems that there is insufficient ...Show more

Summary

A constitution is a system of rules which describes the structure and powers of government, the relationship between different parts of the government and citizen. When talking about a constitutional government, we really mean whether or not the United Kingdom has a constitution…
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Constitutional Law essay example
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