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Government and Politics
The British Constitution

1. What is a constitution

A constitution is a legal frame work detailing the compulsion and responsibilities of the
institutions of government

Constitutions purpose and context

Define the limits of governments power
Encourage stability through order and predictability in politics
- 2011 Fixed term…

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Where laws or constitutional provisions are offered greater protection from arbitrary
changes than regular statues
The USA has an entrenched provision which is the right of all citizens to bear arms. Barrack
Obama cannot change law because it is ridged.
In rigid constitutions, the principles and institutions assume the character…

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1998 Wales and Scotland act - these acts allowed for the creation of the Scottish parliament
and Welsh assemblies.

1999 House of Lords reform act - removed all but 92 hereditary peers from the House of

2005 Constitutional reform act - created a supreme court in the UK. This…

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- Electoral reform
- London and local government
- Freedom of information
- Human rights
Should the human rights act be replaced?
-civil liberties are rights derived from positive law
-Civil liberties are contextual- reflects the societies they are found

Arguments for keeping the HRA
-HRA has been used to…

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Four functions of cabinet

1. Deciding on major policy in the UK and abroad e.g. reducing the voting age, war
2. Dealing with unforeseen events e.g. floods, disease outbreaks, terrorist attacks(
Paris 2015)
3. Coordinating the policies of different departments e.g. education, health
industries or all spending industries

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The cabinet
Collective cabinet responsibility

"It doesn't matter what we say, as long as we all tell the same story" ­ Lord Melbourne
century PM)

"For all that passes in the cabinet, every member of it who does not resign is absolutely
and irretrievably responsible"- Lord Sainsbury

Examples of…

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1. Mistakes made within departments
1954- Sir Thomas Dugdale resigned in 1954 when mistakes made about civil servants
in the Crichel Down case were exposed. However such cases are rare.

2. Policy failure
Resignations following policy failure- e.g. Chancellor of the Exchequer, James
Callaghan resigned in 1969 after the devaluation…

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2. Political neutrality- They are required to be politically impartial, not allowing their
opinions to influence their actions and loyally carry out decisions whether they agree
or not.

3. Anonymity- Whilst ministers are politically answerable for their departments to
parliament and the public. Civil servants offer confidential advice to ministers.…

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-Can be unnecessarily costly

-Performs no useful role that cannot be covered by a streamlined lower house.

- Slows down the task of government, sometimes delaying much needed legislation.

-Sometimes it does not represent the electorate and often adapts a broadly conservative

-Can lead to constitutional gridlock between two…

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-Judges review laws made by the government
- Membership of the EU ensures that UK courts can suspend UK statute law if it contradicts
ECHR (Factortame case)

-Pressure groups may act as a check on the government but can slow down efficient

-The PM can make laws…


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