Anonymous asked in Politics & GovernmentLaw & Ethics · 2 months ago

British Constitution help?

“The British Constitution depends as much on conventions which are not absolutely binding as upon laws which are binding.” (Lord Simon of Glaisdale).

What does this mean?

Please help explain any key points I should include, this is 1000 word essay I don t know where to start.

2 Answers

  • Clive
    Lv 7
    2 months ago
    Favorite Answer

    It means what it SAYS.  There are laws which you can call constitutional as they are part of the basis of how the country runs, for example the Bill of Rights 1689 and the Parliament Acts.  But much of how it all works isn't written down anywhere, it's custom and convention, and we look to writers such as Bagehot and Dicey.

    For example, there is nothing that says "there shall be a Prime Minister" or how he should be chosen.  It has merely become the custom that the monarch keeps out of politics by choosing a Prime Minister to lead the government, and according to Bagehot, this must be "the person most likely to command a majority in the House of Commons and lead a stable government".  So while the Queen is legally free to choose anyone she likes, in reality she has no choice.  It's obviously the leader of the party that got most seats in the last general election.  How will government work otherwise?  And a newer convention is that the Prime Minister shouldn't be a Lord, so he or she can be accountable to MPs.

    There isn't even a law that says "there shall be Parliament", it's merely a 700 year old convention, but there are so many laws that refer to Parliament and lay down in detail how to elect the House of Commons that clearly we must have one.

    And talking of Parliament, it has no power to make law.  What we DO have is the important statement in the Bill of Rights 1689 that the monarch cannot make law without the consent of Parliament.  That really did make an enormous change - before that, the monarch could just make law, but afterwards, there's no point in making a law if Parliament hasn't agreed it first.  So in reality, the only sensible way to run is let Parliament come up with a Bill and the monarch just agrees it.  Which as you no doubt well know, is exactly what happens.  But can the monarch say no?  Well, she could, but just imagine the uproar that would cause.  How dare she refuse the will of our democratically elected Parliament?  So the last time that happened was in 1708 and that's hardened into an unwritten convention.

    • AJ2 months agoReport

      Thanks for the help, I now know what to include! 

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  • 2 months ago

    Unlike the US, there isn't a single document that forms the 'British Constitution'. There are a series of documents signed by various Kings and Queens over many generations that serve a similar purpose. The only one of those I can actually name without research is the Magna Carta.

    • Clive
      Lv 7
      2 months agoReport

      Magna Carta has been entirely repealed and replaced by other laws.

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