First 554 words of the document:
Should Britain have a codified constitution?
Features of a codified constitution:
The document itself is authoritative, and acts as a higher law; moreover the
highest law in the land. It binds all political systems and legislative institutions,
and therefore creates a two tier law system, in which the constitution holds the
The constitution is entrenched, in that each constitutional law is very difficult to
amend or abolish. The process of changing the constitution is much more complex
than that of changing/making ordinary laws.
The constitution is judiciable, so government and all political bodies are subject
to the authority of the courts, and there is usually a supreme or constitutional
court in place.
Features of the UK's existing, non-codified constitution:
Not authoritative constitutional laws have the same status as ordinary laws, and
there is no sense of 'higher law'. In this way we just have a one tier legal system.
Not entrenched It can be changed using the same process you would use to
change an ordinary law.
Not judiciable because there is no 'higher law', judges have no grounds to
declare actions of public bodies as 'constitutional' or 'unconstitutional'.
Arguments for and against Britain having a codified constitution
Clear rules. Because all the constitution would Rigidity. A 'higher law' is much harder to
be collected in one document, it means rules change or adapt than statute law, which
would be more clearly defined, which prevents means the constitution could easily become
confusion and misinterpretation. outdated and out of touch with modern
Limited government. Would offer a solution society.
to the problem of 'elective dictatorship' and Judicial tyranny. A codified constitution
be a more effective check on government offers too much power to judges who are
power. The principle of 'higher law' would unelected and unaccountable, as well as
prevent the government of the day from socially unrepresentative. This power may well
interfering with the constitution to suit their be used to meet the agenda of senior judges
own agenda. and reflect their values.
Neutral interpretation. Would be policed by Legalistic. A codified constitution is often a
judges who are separate and 'above' politics. complex legalistic document which can only be
This offers an unbiased and independent be best understood by judges. Our current
interpretation of the constitution. constitution has evolved over history, and in
Protecting rights. A codified constitution that way is organic.
better defines the relationship between the Political bias. The constitution can never be
citizen and state, so rights are more clearly 'above' politics because, by its nature, it is
defined and easier to enforce and protect. promoting and enforcing one set of values
Education and citizenship. Highlights the over others. So codifying our constitution will
key central goals of our political system so not be depoliticising it.
would offer a better educational value, and Unnecessary. Codifying the constitution is by
creates a greater sense of political identity. no means the most effective way of checking
government power, would be much better to
aim instead at strengthening democracy and