Entrenchment of the Consitution

HideShow resource information

What is Entrenchment

Entrenchment is more than important than codification:

  • It means to make it difficult to change the constitution.
  • Entrenchment protects a constitution from short term amendments. 
  • This could prevent dictatorship as they won't be able to pull down important laws. 
  • The constitution is too important to be placed in the hands of a temporary govt. 
  • Therefore constitutional change must meet:
    • Widespread support, such as a referendum.
    • If it is in the long term interests of the country.
1 of 4

What does entrenchment do

Entrenchment of constitutions ensures that:

  • Human rights are guaranteed in most states.
    • However, these rights are bypassed in cases such as terrorist attacks, which is taken in the interests of the people. 
  • This would clearly damage the long term interests of the people.
  • A dictatorial govt might seek to grant more powers, for itself, to protect its own position, which takes democracy away. 
    • E.g. North Korea is a dictatorship.
  • To ensure that constitutional change is approved by widespread support and that it is in the long term interests of the country, special arrangments are used, such as referendums. 
2 of 4

Entrenchment in the UK

Entrenchment is unusual in the UK because:

  • Parliament is soverign, meaning it is impossible to entrench constitutional principles. 
  • Parliamentary soverignty means that individual Parliaments cannot be bound, be its predecessors, nor bind its successors. 
    • Therefore, Parliament can change the constitution. 
  • The govt of the day usually dominates the HOC, as they have a majority, and the mandate of the people, granted at elections. (democratic legitimacy).
    • This gives them the power to pass laws easily as most MPs will agree with them. 
    • E.g. Tony Blair 1997 HOL reform. 


  • It is becoming more popular to hold a referendum when proposing a constitutional change.
  • This gives the people more say over political issues. 
  • On the other hand, if the result is opposite to the Govt's proposal, it is most likely that a govt will be voted in again.
  • E.g. the EU referendum, AV referendum and the Scottish Independence.
3 of 4


An example of an entrenchment in British law:

  • The Human Rights Act 1998 became entrenched.
  • It incorporates the European Convention of Human Rights into British law.
  • It became binding on all political bodies. 
  • This was easy to change, simply using an Act of Parliament, because the British constitution is not entrenched. 

Judical Review:

  • This is the process, which is undertaken by senior courts, where judges are required to interpret, re-interpret or clarify constitutional rules. 
  • It takes place in response to appeals by citizens or associations,
  • This clarifies the meaning of a constitution, adapted or applied to new circumstances. 
4 of 4


No comments have yet been made

Similar Government & Politics resources:

See all Government & Politics resources »See all The British constitution resources »