The advantages of a codified constitution now outweigh its disadvantages' Discuss (40)



Introduction: Define keyterms and write the type of constitution Britain has.

Paragraph 1: Why we should adopt a codified constitution. Use PEEL structure. 

Paragraph 2: Why we should retain an uncodified constitituin. Use PEEL


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A codified constitution is:

  • a set of rules, written or unwritten in one single document, that governs the state and its people. 
  • Currently, the UK has an uncodified constitution, where its rules are written in different sources, such as conventions. 
  • The question is whether the UK should adopt a codified constitution, or retain its uncodified constitution. 
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Adopt a codified constitution (PEEL)

The UK should adopt a codified constitution because:

  • P: It contributes to the modernity of Britain's politics.
  • E: For example, having a codified constitution would make the true relationship between the UK and the EU much more clearer to the people. 
  • E: This relationship is confusing to British citizens because they don't fully understand their individual rights and liberties within the EU, since Britain joined the EU through a referendum in the 1970s. 
  • L: Therefore a codified constitution would help Britain's relationship with the EU become better understood by its people and will increase the support for remaining in the EU ( a political issue being currently debated). 
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Retaining an uncodified constitution

However, on the other hand, the political issue regarding Britain's withdrawal from the EU will be decided through a referendum in 2016:

  • Referendums are a method of of consent for constitutional change, which is commonly used in the UK, because the UK's constitution is uncodifed.
  • This means that the constitution is flexible because it can be changed easily, through a referendum or a simple Act of Parliament, as it is written in different sources.
  • This is also because the UK's uncodifed constitution is not entrenched, as compared to the US codified constitution, which is entrenched making it extremely difficult to to amend, as they have to gain consent from its 2 tier legal system.
  • Flexibility, is an advantage of uncodified constitutions, because it means the UK's constitution can be amended much quicker, especially in times of emergency, and is cheaper than going through the Supreme Courts. 
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Adopting a codified constitution

In comparison, the UK should adopt a codified constitution because:

  • P: The UK's constitution has clarity.
  • E: Currently, British citizens do not have much knowledge on the UK's constitution because they don't see it written in one single document. As a result, different sources makes it confusing for them to process.
  • E: For example, British citizens do not understand fully understand about their rights and civil liberties. Whereas US citizens knows a lot about their civil liberties and rights.
  • L: Therefore codifying the UK's constitution will set British citizens in their place, and will increase the practise of freedom of speech etc.
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UK's constitution remaining uncodified

Despite this, the UK's constitution should remain uncodified:

  • P: Because of Conservative pragmatism.
  • E: The Conservative Party believes that codifying the UK's constitution is pointless because it has not yet been broken to do so. This is because there have been no political revolutions or major uprisings that have had to change the constitution.
  • E: For example, after the Civil War, America became independent from Britain's Empire, introducing a codified constitution to govern its people and to prevent dictatorship.
  • L: As Britain has remained democratically stable, there is no reason to codify its constitution because potential threats of dictators, are prevented by the UK's democractic, bicameral system.
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The advantages of a codified constitution outweighs its disadvantages, which would be benefitial for Britain's constitution, such as its modernity, clarity and entrenchment. This will all reduce the power of the British government.

However, retaining the uncodified constitution is also benefitial, mainly through its flexibility and its democratic system. Therefore, the UK's constitution should remain uncodified because, currently, there is no major reason or threat to codify it.

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