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the United Kingdom does not have a constitution

Critically evaluate this statement.

A constitution is the values that a particular state adheres to, which is always different for every state. I will be looking at the different aspects that comprise of constitution in comparison to the constitution of the United Kingdom.

Sir John Laws concisely defines a constitution as “that set of legal rules which govern the relationship in a state between the ruler and ruled” . Therefore it is understood that these are a set of principles and rules under the power of the government to run the state accordingly. In the United Kingdom the government comprises of the legislative, who issues general rules. The executive who implements the law, and creates government procedures. Lastly the judiciary had the role of being an independent adjudicator to apply the rules made by the legislative and enforced by the executive. These branches of government all work collectively ensuring that authority is equally spread to avoid, rather than it being focussed to one person or group. This frame works fits in with Sir Laws definition above, as these three areas work collectively to “govern the relationship between the ruler and the ruled”.

ly looking at the historical aspect, a written constitution had not been written because it was instilled in British culture that pass power to the authoritarian. In 1653 this was Oliver Cromwell who had written the “articles of government”. However after one year this had quickly changed and been replaced by military dictatorship. Subsequently this has allowed us to progress logically in accordance to the social, economic and political situation of the country and the rest of the world.

Most constitutions of different states are usually written like the Republic of Ireland, the Unites States of America and India. However the UK does not have a clear single document which is the constitution, this allows authority to be manipulated by those in control. Although having an unwritten constitution has many advantages. Firstly an unwritten constitution allows the UK to develop realistically, according to the day to day progression in society. This is also supported by Joshua Rozenberg, “Our constitution is evolving so quickly at present that only an on-line version of it can be entirely up to date” . On the contrary, the UK does have written documents which make up the basis of the constitutional laws; this can be found in statutes such as the Magna Carta 1215, Bill of Rights 1688 and the Act of Settlement 1701. Equally having a written constitution takes away the aspect of adressing realistic political issues, which may be ignored if in a written constitution as one would be bound to follow the literal text. Furthermore by following the literal text, this would allow there to be an indistinct reasoning. Therefore allowing space for disagreements and ambiguity. Lastly Albert Dicey mentions that a written constitution can be “”torn up” whereas a unwritten constitution “”is embedded in the structure of the law as whole”. Consequently allowing us to understand that a constitution does exist in the UK.

Looking at the different types of constitution the UK fits into several. A state can be either federal like the USA, which has a central government but having power divided in their fifty states. Opposed to the kind of unitary state that the UK has, as the main control is held in the middle. Second type of constitution is either rigid or flexible. Usually when a constitution is rigid, more often than not it is also entrenched. This makes it hard to change it to match interest of the people in power, which usually requires a vote. The UK does not have this kind of arrangement which would make it more flexible, as there being no single handed constitution. As a result this allows the UK to progress with modernity.

Albert Dicey also emphasised that Parliament in the UK has all supremacy over the judiciary and the executive. Parliamentary Supremacy allows parliament to pass any law, it cannot pass a law that cannot be changed in the future, and an official act of Parliament cannot be judged or questioned. In addition the Rule of Law consists of firstly nobody can be punished unless there is a breach of law, which is evident at a court. Secondly that nobody is above the law and everbody is equal before the law. This adds to everyone being the same in front of the law, which would also stand for the constitution. Therefore it is evident that the UK does have a constitution as it is deeply embedded into the legal structure.

Ultimately, through assessing the different factors of the legal system, I believe that the United Kingdom does have a constitution. I have come to this decision as the legal system needs a basic foundation to begin. This is where I believe the constitution exists as we are governed by rules made the legislative, enforced by the executive and adjudicated by the judiciary. In essence this is fundamental attributes that a constitution must have, which is present in the United Kingdom.

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