Sources of the British Constitution

  • Created by: rebecca
  • Created on: 22-04-13 12:00
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      • Acts of Parliament that relate to constitutional matters
      • E,g, 1972 European Communities Act, 1911 and 1949 Parliamentary Acts
      • Votes to women (1918, 1928)
      • 3 types of bills- public, private member's and private
        • Public- concerned with public policy that affects the nations laws
        • Private Member Bills are introduced by backbench MPs
        • Private bills only apply to certain groups or authorities
      • Rules made in the courts as judgements are given in each case
      • Known as Judical Precedence
      • Reorganised  during the time of Henry || (1154-1189)
      • Most important law in England and Wales since the 17th Century
      • Royal Assent must be given before a bill which has been approved by both Houses can become a Law
      • Practices that have grown up but which do not carry the force of law
      • E.g. the monarch assents to tall parliamentary law
      • Convention that this assent should be given on the advice of Ministers
      • George V nearly refused a bill on Irish Home Rule in 1912 but was 'advised' by his PM to grant the assent
      • All appointments should be made on the advice of the Prime Minister
      • Important since 1972, when the UK joined the EU
      • European law outweights Parliamentary law in importance
      • If there is conflict with national laws, European law will prevail and that is the imporatant constitutional point- Factortame Case 1991
      • BEFORE the factortame case was that of Marshall v Southampton Health Authority 1986 where a 62 year old woman appealed to the european court because she was being made to retire when men could work until they were 65
        • Sex Discrimination Act 1975 had not spoken about retirement age before so European Law took over
      • House of lords had to agree in 1999 to the Factortame fishermen a large sum of money in compensation
      • 1990 one third of UK legislation was happening because of the need to implement Euopean Union Law
      • Written about the constitution by authorities like May (1844), Bagehot (1867) and Dicey (1885)
      • AUTHORS
        • A V Dicey 'An introduction to the study of law of the Constitution 1885
        • Wakter Bagehot 'The English Constitution 1867
        • Erskine May 'A practical treatise on the law, privaliges, proceedings and usage of Parliament 1844'
      • Powers that lie with the Head of State and don't need approval of Parliament
      • Includes- Right to wage war and to appoint memembers of the Government
      • Now- Many of these are assumed by the Prime Minister and the Cabinet on behalf of the Monarch
      • Examples of the royal prerogative:
        • Right to make treaties
        • Right to deploy troops in an emergency
        • Right to appoint bishops and archbishops
        • Right to  keep information from courts
        • Right to choose or dismiss the PM
      • Problems
        • War in Iraq 2003 was through the Royal Prerogative
        • The Crown retains the right to choose a PM should he/she resign
        • 1974 General Election produced no firm result so the Monarch make the decision


Old Sir


A very useful resource which lays out the essentials of understanding the UK's uncodified constitution. It also refers to a number of important cases and examples which students might wish to read in greater detail so as to inform any discussion of the UK constitution which needs to address assessment objective 2, (evaluation and analysis).

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