The UK Constitution Key Terms

Key terms for The UK constitution chapter 2.1 Edexcel

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  • Created on: 15-02-13 19:52


A set of principles (written or unwritten) that establishes:

  • the distribution of power within a political system
  • relationships between political institution
  • the limits of government jurisdiction
  • the rights of citizens
  • and the method of amending the constitution itself
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Constitutional Reform

A process whereby the fundamental nature of the system of government and the relationships between governing institutions are changed. In the UK this may also involve codification

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A principle that government is limited by a set of constitutional rules and the rule of law. Government should therefore be subject to the law equally with all other citizens.

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The process of setting out a constitution in an organised way in a single document

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Federal Constitution

A constitution where legal sovereignty between the central government and regional governments

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Parliamentary sovereignty

The British principle that Parliament is the source of all political power (with the exception of the prerogative powers of the PM)  and that all enforceable laws must be approved by parliament

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Quasi federalism

A circumstance, as in the UK and EU, where a great deal of power is developed but legal sovereignty is retained at the centre 

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Parliamentary reform

A process whereby reforms in the memberships, powers or procedures of either or both Houses of Parliament are made or proposed

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Unitary constitution

A constitution where legal sovereignty is concentrated exclusivley in central institutions

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Human rights

Basic rights all can expect to enjoy, examples:

  • freedom of expression
  • freedom of association
  • freedom of worship
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A process whereby power, but not sovereignty, is transferred to regions and countries. It means the establishment of assemblies and governments in those regions

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Constitutional government

Government that is limited by constitution and by constitutional principles

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A popular vote in which the people rather than their elected representatives resolve a political issue. It is used as a way of gaining consent for constitutional reforms

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Legal sovereignty

The location of ultimate power to make laws, together with the location of the source of all legal power within the political system.

In the UK legal sovereignty lies in Parliament

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