UNIT 1 Government & Politics EDEXCEL - Constitution, Parliament and PM & Cabinet

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Government & Politics Unit 2
o Codified Constitution
Advantages & Disadvantages
o Uncodified Constitution
Advantages & Disadvantages
o Is Parliament Sovereign?
Arguments For and Against
o Strengths and Weaknesses of the UK's constitution
o Constitutional Reforms ­ Coalition and 1997-2010
What are they?
Are they effective?
PM & Cabinet
o Features & Functions of the PM
What must a politician be to becoming PM
What can a PM do?
o Functions of Cabinet
o Factors that affect promotion and resignation of a minister
o Powers and Constraints of PM
o Theories of Executive Power
o PM V Cabinet
o Functions of Parliament
What are they?
How effective are they?
o Powers of Parliament
What are they?
How effective are they?
o Parliamentary Reform
What are they?
How effective are they?
o Relationship between Parliament and Government
Factors that affect it
How the coalition affects it

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2 Types of Constitution
Codified & Uncodified
Codified Constitution
Constitution where the rules are written down in a single document. Example could be the
USA. Creates a series of checks and balances for government, and also a separation of
powers. Creates entrenchment, and is rigid (difficult to amend), and this prevents the
executive from changing the constitution for its own benefit.
Are judiciable, in that being a legal document, the judiciary has the ultimate authority to
define the interpretation of constitutional reform.…read more

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An ungrouped set of governing rules that comes from a variety of sources. The UK is an example of
one; its sources of its uncodified constitution are as follows:
Books of Constitutional Relevance eg such as by A.V.…read more

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Said to be legally sovereign
o Source of all political power
o Exercises power because that power is granted by Parliament
o Parliament can take back any powers devolved as with the case of the Northern
Ireland Assembly.
o Parliament can make any law it wishes.…read more

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o Constitution is organic ­ rooted in society not separate from society
o So when society, needs and values change ­ the constitution can also change without
undue upheaval.…read more

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o Critics say it is difficult to know what the constitution says.
o There is confusion around many because they are not fixed ­ especially around
Eg ­ Ministerial responsibility ­ which says that a minister should take
responsibility for blunders made in their department ­ yet not one resigned
as a result of the DfT and franchising being screwed up.…read more

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Reform of House of Lords (removal of hereditary Peers)
Introduction of Human Rights Act
Greater use of Referenda
Electoral Reform ­ PR systems for devolved assemblies
Abolition of the Role of Lord Chancellor
Good ­
Greater Democratization
Greater Decentralisation
Bad ­
No Clear Focus ­ piecemeal reform ­ not one big reform bill
Unfinished business eg ­ House of Lords Reform
Not fully thought out ­ did not anticipate consequences (devolution)
Elected House of Lords
Fewer MPs and Equal Sized Constituencies
o Labour…read more

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Features & Functions of the PM
What must a politician be to become a PM
o Leader of his Party
o MP (could technically also be a Lord, but this has not happened since the 1890s
o Have majority control in the commons (can also have minority control such as James
Callaghan's government)
Functions of the Prime Minister
o Making governments (power of patronage)
o Direct Government Policy
o Manage the cabinet system ­ chairs meetings, determines number and length
o Organising government ­ setting…read more

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Depends upon the Prime Minister's own personality, and also factors at the time such as
events, size of party majority, and popularity of party leader. However there is a
conventional view of power which includes the following issues:
o Power of Patronage - Ability to hire and fire who they want, when they want. Makes
backbenchers loyal too as they want a shot at the `big time'.…read more

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Presidential in Spirit
o Can't be president as the constitution doesn't have a system of presidential
government eg No separation of powers.…read more


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