Slides in this set
A (very!) brief history of Parliament
Charles I was executed in 1649 by Parliament for trying
to govern on his own rather than with the help of
Parliament. At this time whilst Parliament insisted on
being consulted, it's role was subordinate to the monarch
and continued to be so for many years. In fact, today
many people feel it remains subordinate but to the
government rather than the monarch.
After the Glorious Revolution in 1688 the main source of
power was changed from the monarchy to Parliament
and it's role has since then slowly evolved to what it is
In 1720 the cabinets most senior figure became known as
the Prime Minister and began to take on more power.…read more
Parliamentary vs. Presidential Government
Parliament is the main (in the UK only) source of political
authority. Political power may only be exercised if it has
been authorised by Parliament.
The government must be drawn from Parliament (either
Commons or Lords)
There is no strict separation of powers, the powers of the
legislative and executive are fused.
The government is accountable to Parliament.
The legislature and the executive (the presidency) have
separate sources of authority, they are elected and
The President is not part of the legislature
The President is directly accountable to the people, not to
There is a clear separation of powers as outline in a
codified constitutional arrangement.…read more
Parliament is legally sovereign, which means:
It's the source of all political power. In effect Parliament
does delegate many of it's powers to ministers,
devolution etc. but can always reclaim these powers.
It's omnicompetent, capable of passing any act with a
majority vote in Commons. Any law it passes must be
enforced by courts and authorities.
It is not bound by its predecessors and any existing laws
can be amended or repealed.
Equally, it can not bind it's successors and it's laws can
not be entrenched against any future change.
De jure…read more
However if we consider political sovereignty we can certainly
claim that Parliament has lost much of it's sovereignty. Political
sovereignty is where power lies in reality, not legally; it is the
practical location of power.
It is often said `the sovereignty of Parliament is, in reality, the
sovereignty of the majority party.' The government has a
mandate to carry out it's manifesto policies which Parliament
can not really prevent.
Political sovereignty lies with people at elections and
government in between.
In reality, despite Parliament's reserve powers to reverse any
change, much of the political sovereignty of this country rests
with the EU.
De facto…read more
The erosion of Parliamentary Sovereignty
A lot of legislative power has moved to the EU. European
law is superior to British law so in a conflict British law
Executive power has grown and so political sovereignty
has been transferred to the government
Increased referendum use for any major constitutional
change e.g. 2011 AV referendum effectively returns
sovereignty to the people
Devolution e.g. Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly.
It is difficult to imagine circumstances where the powers
that have been granted would be removed (although,
theoretically this could happen)…read more