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Edexcel Government & Politics - Unit 2 Governing the UK (09/06/16) Watch

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    (Original post by alevelpain)
    One commonly-cited advantage of a codified constitution is that it can limit the power of theexecutive. That the UK both has a system of parliamentary government and an uncodifiedconstitution means that governments can be extremely powerful. Lord Hailsham described thepower exercised by Prime Ministers as “elective dictatorship,” because with a parliamentary majorityit is usually possible for them to do as they please. And because the House of Commons canoverrule the House of Lords by invoking the Parliament Act, a majority in that chamber is all that’snecessary. This almost gives the government arbitrary power, because of the principle of thesovereignty of Parliament: whereas the institutions of government in most states have their powersdefined and limited by constitutions, Parliament is not legally restricted at all.

    As well as restricting the power of the executive, and indeed as part of doing so, a codifiedconstitution could also protect citizens’ rights. At the moment there is some protection, boththrough the Human Rights Act and because the UK is subject to the European Court ofHuman Rights, but a government supported by a majority in the House of Commons couldtheoretically repeal the Act and withdraw from the Convention in the admittedly unlikely event thatit wished to do so. A codified constitution, provided it was entrenched, and provided it contained astatement of rights, would be a stronger legal protection for those rights. In the USA, for example,which has a codified constitution, freedom of expression is secure: even if both Congress and thePresident wanted to restrict it they could not. Introducing a codified constitution could providesimilar protection in the UK.

    And a further problem with an uncodified constitution is that it can foster constitutional instability.Since 1997 governments have tended to meddle with the constitution, often for party politicaladvantage (such as the removal of most of the hereditary peers from the House of Lords) or toresolve temporary issues (such as the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act). It could therefore be arguedthat this recent willingness to exploit the constitution’s flexibility supports the argument that theadvantages of a codified constitution (which could prevent such frequent changes) do nowoutweigh the disadvantages.

    However, recent constitutional reforms have actually reduced the powers of the executive, whichrather dents the argument that this is a reason to codify the constitution. Prime Ministers can nolonger choose a convenient moment to dissolve Parliament and call a general election, for instance.There is even already an element of entrenchment, with the European Union Act guaranteeing a referendum for any further transfer of powers to European institutions and the precedent of theAV referendum establishing the principle that significant constitutional change will need areferendum to approve it. This is not an absolute guarantee, but the opprobrium which would beheaped on governments which tried to sidestep these laws and conventions would be risking itsexistence. This has all diminished the "elective dictatorship" which Lord Hailsham complainedabout. So one of the supposed advantages of reform has already been achieved, suggesting thatactually the advantages of a codified constitution no longer outweigh the disadvantages.

    One of those disadvantages is that drawing up a codified constitution would be very difficult. Themajor political parties are divided over constitutional reform with the Conservatives broadlyopposed, the Liberal Democrats enthusiastic and Labour ambivalent, so the options areunappealing. It could emerge through compromise, perhaps devised by an all-party constitutionalconvention and requiring a referendum to ratify it ... but then the substance would be determinedless by principle than by what was politically expedient. Or it could be a partisan settlement,whether imposed by the current Coalition or by an alternative government ... but then such aconstitution might well be seen to lack legitimacy, and the political parties not in office when it wasestablished would probably seek to amend it. Such a situation would not be conducive toconstitutional stability, and it’s difficult to see an advantage which could outweigh this veryconsiderable disadvantage.

    A possible solution to this dilemma might be to codify the constitution exactly as it is, but thatwould raise further questions, such as that of entrenchment. Were the constitution to remainunentrenched the executive would remain over-mighty and able to trample on citizens’ rights andchange the constitution at will. But entrenching the constitution would damage one of its bestfeatures, which is that it is democratic. The doctrine of the sovereignty of Parliament means that thewill of the people, as expressed by their democratically-elected representatives, prevails. Allowingunaccountable judges to overturn laws would be undemocratic, which is quite some disadvantage –and where this is already possible, in human rights law, it’s unpopular. The correspondingadvantage is that it might prevent governments from acting tyrannically, but governments in the UKhave shown no inclination to be tyrannical: indeed, recent constitutional reforms show just theopposite. This advantage to codifying the constitution, therefore, would be insignificant and clearlyoutweighed by the advantage.

    The traditional defence of the UK’s constitution is that while unusual and theoretically defective itworks effectively. In theory the UK’s current constitutional arrangements would allow a tyrant,once elected and supported by a majority in the House of Commons, to exercise arbitrary power.But in practice this does not happen (indeed, constitutional reforms since 1997 have tended toreduce rather than increase government power) and basing constitutional reform around theprinciple that it might is unreasonable. Until this threat becomes more substantial thedisadvantages of codification will continue to outweigh the advantages.
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    Could it be argued that minimum sentencing reduces the power of the judiciary ? MPs get to do a Judges job
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    (Original post by xxvine)
    Can I have the whole sovereignty one please
    It's a 10 mark question so there's only 3 points

    - EU law has more sovereignty over uk law such as the European court of justice. Factortame 1991- Case resulted in a landmark ruling stated that the laws of the U.K. Could not conflict with EU law. This ruling transferred much sovereignty to EU law.

    - EU courts is the highest court of appeal. For example European court of justice which is the highest court of the European Union as it settles legal disputes between EU member states. It interprets the meaning of Euro law and decides how it should be applied in specific cases and to individual countries etc..

    - EU law has a horizontal and vertical effects
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    (Original post by Shaziye)
    It's a 10 mark question so there's only 3 points

    - EU law has more sovereignty over uk law such as the European court of justice. Factortame 1991- Case resulted in a landmark ruling stated that the laws of the U.K. Could not conflict with EU law. This ruling transferred much sovereignty to EU law.

    - EU courts is the highest court of appeal. For example European court of justice which is the highest court of the European Union as it settles legal disputes between EU member states. It interprets the meaning of Euro law and decides how it should be applied in specific cases and to individual countries etc..

    - EU law has a horizontal and vertical effects
    What are horizontal and vertical effects?


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    Does anyone have a plan for constitution to do with coalition and after coalition reforms/proposals of reforms?


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    what are some good examples of individual ministerial responsibility?
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    (Original post by Mfp3343)
    what are some good examples of individual ministerial responsibility?
    David Laws
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    (Original post by Louise12307)
    Does anyone have a plan for constitution to do with coalition and after coalition reforms/proposals of reforms?


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    i can send you the essay from politics review? its about the successess and failures of consitutional reforms post 2010
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    Okay, so haven't read the entire chat as you guys managed do make 41 pages in 2 days! For unit 1 my predictions were mostly correct except for the horrible democracy question. I though I would therefore lol 'predict' unit 2 for you guys. Comment if you agree or disagree.
    I strongly think that constitution will be a 40 mark question and Parliament will be the 5,10,25. I also think that PM will be 5,10,25 and Judiciary will be the 40 marker but not as confident.
    Parliament
    - elected second chamber
    - backbench MPs (only came up once and that was in June 2012)
    - could be effectiveness (question could be: Has the UK Parliament become an irrelevant institution?)
    - Parliament and Executive

    Prime Minister
    - PM and Cabinet (or cabinet just on its own) I think this is the most likely question
    - powerful or not
    - PM's powers

    Judiciary
    - Neutrality and independence
    - Human Rights Act
    - powerful or not
    - British bill of rights (this has been debated most recently so could test us on this)

    Constitution
    - codified/uncodified
    - strengths of constitution
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    (Original post by jjbloomy)
    Okay, so haven't read the entire chat as you guys managed do make 41 pages in 2 days! For unit 1 my predictions were mostly correct except for the horrible democracy question. I though I would therefore lol 'predict' unit 2 for you guys. Comment if you agree or disagree.
    I strongly think that constitution will be a 40 mark question and Parliament will be the 5,10,25. I also think that PM will be 5,10,25 and Judiciary will be the 40 marker but not as confident.
    Parliament
    - elected second chamber
    - backbench MPs (only came up once and that was in June 2012)
    - could be effectiveness (question could be: Has the UK Parliament become an irrelevant institution?)
    - Parliament and Executive

    Prime Minister
    - PM and Cabinet (or cabinet just on its own) I think this is the most likely question
    - powerful or not
    - PM's powers

    Judiciary
    - Neutrality and independence
    - Human Rights Act
    - powerful or not
    - British bill of rights (this has been debated most recently so could test us on this)

    Constitution
    - codified/uncodified
    - strengths of constitution
    what do you mean by "PM and Cabinet (or cabinet just on its own)" & "Parliament & the executive"
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    (Original post by keirjohnharry)
    Could it be argued that minimum sentencing reduces the power of the judiciary ? MPs get to do a Judges job
    Yep. Sorts out conflict between judges and ministers.
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    (Original post by Louise12307)
    What are horizontal and vertical effects?


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    The U.K. Is a member of the EU. Certain EU laws have an effect on the uk. The uk has to follow and do not have the right to derogate and if they want to reappeal the European community act 1972 they have to be removed from the EU.
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    (Original post by toniyasminn)
    what do you mean by "PM and Cabinet (or cabinet just on its own)" & "Parliament & the executive"
    so for PM and Cabinet could be a question like : "To what extent does the prime minister control the cabinet?" or "To what extent is the Cabinet an important body?"

    For Parliament and the executive it could be: "How effective is Parliament in checking executive power?" or "To what extent did the coalition government alter the relationship between Parliament and the executive?"
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    has anyone got any plans that they would share for pm and cabinet,constitution,and parliament, i am really stuck. thank you
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    For checking executive power, you'd refer to factors like committees, debates, question time (PMQs and Ministerial) and the House of Lords?
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    (Original post by UKStudent17)
    For checking executive power, you'd refer to factors like committees, debates, question time (PMQs and Ministerial) and the House of Lords?
    They wouldnt put a question like that , they'd ask how effective parliament is at holding government to account , they have a strange way of creating divisions between sections, which is stupid because everything is intertwined.
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    (Original post by keirjohnharry)
    They wouldnt put a question like that , they'd ask how effective parliament is at holding government to account , they have a strange way of creating divisions between sections, which is stupid because everything is intertwined.
    I agree. Edexcel does like to manipulate questions into being brain-exploding conundrums, but from what I've been seeing in terms of predictions, all these questions about Parliament intertwine in some way or another.

    So would you use points like committees, debates, question time and House of Lords for a question relating to government accountability?
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    would anyone know how to answer this question: "To what extent do some prime ministers, more than others, exercise more power"

    ?
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    Guys I know this is bad of me to just ask for resources/power points etc but please could anyone email me some at my email please? I would really appreciate it a lot. Thanks.
    [email protected]
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    (Original post by mollyadtr)
    i can send you the essay from politics review? its about the successess and failures of consitutional reforms post 2010
    That would be great thanks


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