Should the United Kingdom adopt a written constitution?

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Date added: 17-06-26


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Topic: [SHOULD THE UK ADOPT A WRITTEN CONSTITUTION?] Should the UK adopt a written Constitution? Introduction A constitution is a set of rules which seek to establish the duties, powers and functions of various institutions of government, it regulate the relationship between and among the institutions and define the relationship between the state and the individual. There are many different types of constitutions. Constitutions can be written or unwritten, unitary or federal and seen as rigid and flexible the most common way of comparing constitutions however is written and unwritten. For example the USA is an example of a written constitution while the UK is an example of an unwritten constitution1. Written and Unwritten constitution A written constitution is a single document within which there are important constitutional provisions all collected in that single document. A written constitution usually have 3 main features. In a written constitution the document is authoritative because it is composed of higher law. The constitutions covers all political institutions, including those that make ordinary law. The written constitution is also established firmly which makes it difficult to amend or abolish. On the other hand the unwritten constitution is an unauthoritative constitution and it is not written in a single legal document, the unwritten constitution is easy to amend through a normal process of enacting statute law and they are not judiciable because in the absence of higher law a judge will not have a legal standard which they can use to declare if the actions of the other bodies are constitutional or unconstitutional. Advantages of the UK adopting a written constitution There are many argument supporting that the UK should adopt a written constitution, however if a written constitution was to be introduced to the UK they would be certain advantages such that rules will be clearer which will create less confusion about the meaning of law as the constitution will be written in a single legal document and it will ensure a greater certainty that constitutional laws will easily be enforced. The written constitution will cut down government to size and it will also effectively bring an end to principle of the parliamentary sovereignty and the issue of elective dictatorship. The elective dictatorship is a kind of a constitutional imbalance whereby the executive power is often checked only by the need of government to win elections. In the UK it is easy for the ruling government to has the ability to act in the way it pleases as long as it maintains its control of the house of commons. But it will also not be possible for the government to interfere with the constitution since there is a higher law safeguarding the constitution. A written constitution will also allow for a moderate interpretation. A written constitution will be watched by senior judges and that will ensure that the provisions provided in the constitution are properly upheld by other public bodies. Judges are also above politics and they will act as a neutral and an impartial constitutional referees. A written constitution has education value, it shows the central values and goals of the political system. This will help strengthen citizenship as it will create a clearer sense of political identity which may be important to an increasingly multicultural society. One of the strongest advantages for the UK to adopt a written constitution is the protection of rights. Right such as individual liberty will be protected more securely because it will define the relationship between the government and its people. And as a result the right of the people will easily be enforced since the rights are clearly defined rather than the current unwritten constitution. This rights could be defined through a bill of rights in the written constitution. A bill of right is a document which specifies the and freedom of the individuals and so defines the legal extent of liberty. Disadvantages of the UK adopting a written constitution There are also many argument against the UK adopting a written constitution. One of the disadvantages of the written constitution is that it is considered rigid. Higher laws are more difficult to change than the statute law. And it is also easier and faster to introduce an act of parliament than to go for the amendment of constitution. Due to the rigidity and inflexibility of the written constitution it is harder to remain relevant and up to date because written constitution are not easily changed and there for find it difficult to changing political and social circumstances. The flexibility of a constitution is a very important and useful tool in the modern and evolutional environment and this is a weak point of the written constitution and a major downside to it. Another disadvantages against the UK adopting the written constitution is judicial tyranny and the democratic rule in the UK. The UK has a record of a long period of unbroken democratic rule, it’s usually seen as a strength which the unwritten constitution system has. Supreme constitutional authority is vested in the elected house of commons in the UK. This means changes to the constitutions come due to democratic pressures. For example the powers given to the house of lords were reduced through parliamentary Acts due to the growing believes that an unelected second chamber shouldn’t have the right to block policies of elected government. Under the written constitution the judges will be the referees of the constitution. And the judges are unelected and social unrepresentative which will lead to democratic deficit because of lack of democratic legitimacy. A written constitution is not subject to public accountability when the constitution is being interpreted. It may also be interpreted in such a way that it is the preferences and values of the senior judges. Another disadvantages of the adoption of the written constitution by the UK is that parliamentary sovereignty will be abolished. Because it will affect the principle of parliamentary sovereignty which states that the parliament can make, unmake or amend any law it wishes. Under the use of a written constitution the parliament will not be able to make, unmake, or amend any law it wishes due to the existence of the constitution and potentially a bill or rights. Here we see that a written constitution will undermine one of the main principles of the UK’s representative democracy. My Argument against the UK’s Adoption of the written constitution Looking at both Argument/Advantages and Disadvantages, Although there are really strong cases for both views on whether the UK should adopt the written constitution or not, A top judge in the UK Lord Neuberger also supports the adoption of the written constitution by the UK in an article2. My argument is against the UK’s adoption of a written constitution for reasons such as judicial tyranny, inflexible, parliamentary sovereignty and the fact that it is unnecessary. The most important of them is the inflexible. Written constitution is by nature deep and is higher law rules over statute law. In the UK whenever the laws need to be changed then statute law can be changed through by means of passing an Act of parliament. It is more difficult to change laws under the written constitution and thus make it become outdated due to the rapid changing modern society. Another point is the issue of tyranny, the written constitution can lead to tyranny judges should not be able to police the constitution because they are unelected and are not socially representative. This will mean there Is lack of democratic legitimacy and certain groups in the society for example the ethnic minorities may not be able to have their views realised, the lack of democratic legitimacy within the judges means that a democratic shortage will be created, it is also unlikely that a written constitution will be created. This is because it act as a limiting factor to government power. And also if a written constitution is to be introduced to the UK then people who believe that the British monarchy and the democratic system is old fashioned may demand for the an abolish or amendment. There are many problems that could pose threat to the country if they were to adopt the written constitution. Most people in the UK don’t even know what the constitution really is, so if they were to be asked to pay extra taxes to pay for referendums and implementation of the document for the purpose of adopting a written constitution, most people will oppose it. Generally speaking the British people are not very ok with and oppose radical change, many people have shown outrage over devolution. Another main point that will make the UK adopting a written constitution difficult is the fact that it is simply un achievable, it will not only be difficult to arrive at a consensus about who is going to decide and what should be contained in the constitution but under the UK existing unwritten constitution there is nobody authorised and legitimised to bring about the introduction of a written constitution. Parliament will also have to bear the burden of passing so many bills so as to declare that statute laws and Acts are no longer valid which will be time consuming and a referendum has to take place to make sure the citizens all support and want a written constitution. The conservative party in the UK have traditionally been in support and favour of keeping the unwritten constitution and so if the vote is to take place within the House of Commons and the majority house of lords, the results will definitely have a strong following against a written constitution. According to William hague there should be no need for a written constitution as UK is already stabilized and democratically accountable, and the great Britain has been well served by its unwritten constitution. Conclusion Overall, there are two main dispute/argument against and for a written constitution adopted by the UK. The main argument for a written constitution is the fact that it provides clear rules and that it acts as a limiting factor on the government. While on the other hand that is against the UK adopting a written constitution is that it is rigid and may lead to a democratic shortage due to judicial tyranny. With this essay I have point out why the UK should not adopt a written constitution because in such modern time scenarios e.g terrorism, it is preferable to have a flexible way of changing laws instead of a rigid system. So therefore the UK should not have or adopt a written constitution. Bibliography
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