The Constitution. Nature of the UK Constitution. Definition: Heywood (2002). A set of rules that establish the duties, powers and functions of the institutions of government and define the relationship between the state and the individual.
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Definition: Heywood (2002).
A set of rules that establish the duties, powers and functions of the institutions of government and define the relationship between the state and the individual.
According to Swinburne and ***** a constitution should contain rules regarding the three main elements of a political system:
The concept that a political system is governed by a constitution and that political institutions are bound by constitutional rules which are binding (McNaughton 2012).
Two aspects of constitutionalism are:
A constitutional government is one that operates within a set of legal and institutional constraints that both limit its powers and protect individual liberty.
Types of constitutional government:
Rigid and flexible constitutions:
As the UK does not have a codified document, it key rules and practices are found in a number of sources.
Common law – a body of law that is based on tradition, custom and precedent. Though based on custom, common law has acquired the force of law. The courts have refined common law on a case by case basis by means of precedent i.e . judgments in similar cases are taken as binding in later cases. Examples of common law principles are, the right of people to free movement and to gather for public demonstrations, the Crown could not detain citizens without trial.
By signing international treaties and agreements, for example, with the UN and NATO, the British constitution is constantly expanding. The most significant new source of the Constitution in recent years has been the EU. When Britain signed the Treaty of Rome in 1972, it accepted the superiority of European law.
Political commentators through political and legal texts may influence judges interpretation of the law. Some works become accepted as authorities on the UK constitution. Examples:
Proceedings and Usage of Parliament”