A constitution is - "the system or body of fundemental principles according to which a nation state or body is constituted and governed."
Constitutions set out:
- The division of governmental activities (which structures and performs tasks).
- Power and relationships between various institutions.
- The limitations upon the powers of rulers and guarantees of rights of the ruled, listing of the freedoms of the individual citizen and the benefits to which he or she is entitled from the state.
Purpose and Content of Constitutions:
- Protects freedom
- Encourages governmental stability
- Provides legitimacy to those in power
- Sets out respective spheres of influence of the provincial tiers in federal countries.
- Creates a fresh start, especially after uphevals.
- Draws attention to the goals and values that characterise a particular state.
Aspects of Constitutions
1. Codified/Uncodified (Written or unwritten)
2. Flexible or Rigid - A flexible constitution can be altered via the law making process, whilst rigid constitutions are hard to amend.
3. Unitary/Federal - In unitary systems all power is concentrated in the hands of government. Federal systems have powers devolved to different reigions.
4. Monarchial/Republican, Presidential/Parliamentary, Sovereignty of Parliament/People
- Unitary - Parliament makes laws for all parts of the UK, but parts of the UK may have power devolved to them, e.g. Scotland.
- Made up of many traditions and customs such as the Magna Carta, founded in 1215.
- Uncodified - there is no single document which brings all the rules, government and country together.
- The rule of law: The principle that no one is above the law and that individuals are subject to it.
- Sovereignty of parliament - the idea that parliament posseses and excersises unlimited authority.
- Fusion of Powers
- Flexible - the Consitution can be amended easily by passing an act of Parliament (1911/1949)
Sources of the UK Constitution
- Documents such as the Magna Carta
- Texts by experts on the…