AS politics unit 2 revision cards

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  • Created on: 03-01-11 15:36
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What is the constitution
A set of principles, written or unwritten, that
establishes the distribution of power within a
The UK political system , relationships between political
institutions the limit of government jurisdiction, the
rights of the citizens and the method of amending
the constitution itself
Nature of the constitution (1) Nature of the constitution (2)
Determines how political power should be Gives rights to the citizens ­ most countries have
distributed ­under a unitary system ultimate a bill of rights which stops the government from
power lies with parliament, but the constitution breaking basic human rights.
deciphers how the power is distributed between
government and parliament and between the Determine nationality ­ establishes who is
HOC and HOL allowed to be a citizen and how outsiders may
become citizens
Establish a political process ­ relationships
between institutions and the rules that they must Rules for amending ­The UK constitution is
work in amended through parliamentary statue and
conventions. In Ireland and France they must
Limits government power ­ the British hold referendums.
constitution makes parliament sovereign and
they can act as they please
Codification Two tier legal system
The process of setting out the constitution in an When a country has a codified constitution there
organised way in a single document. i.e. it has a are usually two types of laws. Higher laws, who
single source. has power rights of citizens and lower laws
administration of the state, criminality, etc. The
Clear and every citizen has access to it higher laws are usually entrenched and need
Easier to solve disputes referendums two thirds majority etc to be
Gives citizens something to identify with. changed but the lower laws are not safeguarded
by such procedures and can be changed.
Usually occurs as a result of a revolution, civil war
or the creation of a new state.

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Uncodified constitution Entrenchment
Many argue that because the UK constitution is This is what protects the constitution from short
uncodified it does not exist. Parts of it may be term amendment. As constitutional reform makes
written but there is no one single document. a massive impact on a country's political system.
It must achieve widespread support of the people
It does not have one single source but comes and be in the long term interest of the country.…read more

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Arguments for a uncodified constitution (2) Arguments for a codified constitution
Difficulty in changing it it would be immensely Human rights ­ there are no real safe guards for
difficult to gather the constitution into one the human rights act 1998 as parliament is
document as it stems from so many different sovereign
Government is too powerful reformers argue
Much of the important parts of the constitution are that the government is not constrained well
already codified Human Rights Act 1998, The enough
Devolution…read more

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Sovereignty in the UK The EU and the Constitution (1)
Legal sovereignty ­ parliament is the legislature Parliament passed the Europeans committee act
and is the only power that can pass/repeal laws. in 1972 allowing Britain to join the EU
Political sovereignty ­ political power lies with the
EU law is superior to British law ­ factortame
electorate at the time of an election, but otherwise case ­ Spanish vessels allowed to ship in British
with government.…read more

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Why labour supported constitutional reform Principles of labours reforms
in 1997
Democratisation ­ the house of lords and the
The parties ideology had always supported equal unrepresentative electoral system
rights democracy and the abolition of traditional
establishment powers Decentralisation ­ dispersing power away to
local authorities, due to the long period of
In 1997 it seemed definite that they would win the conservatives
election and most likely the next
Restoration of rights ­ European convention of
To stop one party from fully dominating parliament human…read more

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London mayor Devolution
After an era of Thatcher who abolished the GLC In 1998 the Good Friday agreement devolved
and split London up into 33 boroughs the labour power back to northern Ireland after it had been
party wanted to restore power back to London. taken back in 1972.
When they came to power they pushed through The conservatives had lost support in Scotland
reforms for the creation of a London mayor and a and Wales whilst labours support was increasing.
greater London authority.…read more

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Assessment of constitutional reform Possible future reforms
The fully appointed House of Lords is still not Transfer powers from government and PM to
accountable or representative.…read more

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Plenary sessions Standing committees
These are where the house meets in full usually Each new piece of legislation is looked at by a
during prime ministers question or when a great group of 15 50 MP's and peers in order to make
topic of the day arises such as the hunting with any amendments needed. A relevant minister and
dogs, anti terrorism act 2001 and the war in Iraq specialist spokesperson for each other party sits
2003. on the committee.…read more

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Functions of parliament (1) Functions of parliament (2)
Legitimating parliament needs to pass any Opposition ­ in the UK we have adversial politics
proposed government bill in order for it to so every time a proposal is made it is expected
become law this is in effect parliament, the government will have to explain and justify its
representatives of the people, legitimising a policies so opposition parties cannot show any
government bill and making it law.…read more

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Examples of the House of Lords going Similarities / differences between the two
against the will of the government houses
Commons and Lords have a similar procedure,
Gambling order 2007 ­ lords refused to pass the spend time passing legislation, the shape is
act for a super casino to be built in Manchester similar.
resulted in a major rethink of allowing more
casinos in Britain.…read more


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