AS Government & Politics Unit 2, Topic 1 (The British constitution) AQA

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Constitution
Body of fundamental laws according to which a state is governed
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Codified constitution
Constitution that consists of a full and authoritative set of rules written down in a single document
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Uncodified consitution
Not contained in a single authoritative written document
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Unitary system
Political system where sovereignty lies within central government (Westminster)
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Federal system
Sovereignty is shared between central and local or regional gov't (e.g. USA with the individual state powers and legislatures)
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Separation of powers
Legislature, executive and judiciary should be separated through the construction of independent branches of governing system -- associated with Baron de Montesquieu (French Enlightenment philosopher) - found in presidential democracies like USA
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Fusion of powers
Powers of the three main branches overlap - commonly a feature of parliamentary democracies
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Sovereignty
Ultimate and supreme legal and political authority
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Parliamentary sovereignty
Doctrine that gives Westminster Parl. ultimate and supreme legal and political authority in the UK
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Statute Law
Written laws set down by a legislature; Acts of Parl. in the UK. (E.g. Human Rights Act 1998 or Parliament Acts 1911 and 1949)
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Common law
Based on custom and legal precedent, also called 'judge-made' law. E.g. Freedom of speech, and the royal prerogative rooted here, e.g. power to declare war and agree treaties
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Convention
Rule of conduct or behaviour not possessing any real legal standing, e.g. Principle of collective responsibility in the Cabinet
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Human Rights Act
Parliamentary statute that incorporated into UK law that contained in the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) 1953, HRA (1998)
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Judiciary
Branch of the governing system that is empowered to interpret the law and adjudicate its meaning
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Judicial independence
Constitutional principle that there should be a strict separation between the judiciary and the other branches of gov't
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Judicial neutrality
Principle that judges should be impartial in their stance towards the law and seek to apply it in an unbiased manner
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Judicial Review
Power of the judiciary to review the laws and actions of other branches of government
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Rule of law
Principle that the law should rule in the sense that it creates legal framework - outlined as one of the two pillars that holds together Brit Const. according to A.V. Dicey, along with Parl. Sovereignty
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Ultra Vires
"Acting above one's power". Executive members acting like this can be deemed 'ultra vires' by the judiciary
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Civil liberties
Freedoms from gov't interference, seen as essential to protect individual from state in a democracy
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Card 2

Front

Constitution that consists of a full and authoritative set of rules written down in a single document

Back

Codified constitution

Card 3

Front

Not contained in a single authoritative written document

Back

Preview of the back of card 3

Card 4

Front

Political system where sovereignty lies within central government (Westminster)

Back

Preview of the back of card 4

Card 5

Front

Sovereignty is shared between central and local or regional gov't (e.g. USA with the individual state powers and legislatures)

Back

Preview of the back of card 5
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