Is the UK constitution becoming increasingly codified? Watch

Ellie Page
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I am really stuck on this question about the UK constitution. I have basic facts but not enough depth to write a 2,000+ word essay.


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Birkenhead
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Isn't codification/uncodification a dichotomy? I don't think you can argue that it is 'increasingly' codified because it either is or isn't. If it was codified it would be written in a single document, if not, it wouldn't. 'Increasingly codified' brings up odd imagery of an ancient civil servant very, very slowly writing up a codified UK constitution on some parchment
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camstis
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say that the reliance on convention is less.

Since 1998, there has been the Scotland and Wales Acts, as well as the Human Rights Act.
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gladders
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(Original post by Tuerin)
Isn't codification/uncodification a dichotomy? I don't think you can argue that it is 'increasingly' codified because it either is or isn't. If it was codified it would be written in a single document, if not, it wouldn't. 'Increasingly codified' brings up odd imagery of an ancient civil servant very, very slowly writing up a codified UK constitution on some parchment
I don't think so. I think the OP is referring to a potential increase in the amount of the constitution that is in Acts of Parliament as opposed to original being in conventions, court cases and other informal things.

It does appear that it is, given things like the fixed-term parliaments act, house of lords act and the constitutional reform act 2005, but new conventions also come and go; for example, a recent convention that the house of lords should not be controlled by a single party.
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Birkenhead
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(Original post by gladders)
I don't think so. I think the OP is referring to a potential increase in the amount of the constitution that is in Acts of Parliament as opposed to original being in conventions, court cases and other informal things.

It does appear that it is, given things like the fixed-term parliaments act, house of lords act and the constitutional reform act 2005, but new conventions also come and go; for example, a recent convention that the house of lords should not be controlled by a single party.
I understand that you're saying that old conventions are increasingly being replaced with concrete laws, but that isn't really the same as saying our constitution is becoming 'increasingly codified'; by definition, a constitution is either codified or uncodified, written in a single document or not, and it doesn't make much sense to think of these developments as moving our constitution towards codification if it still remains dispersed among a range of sources. As a dichotomy it cannot gradually mutate into codification as the question implies, it is an immediate process. Besides, since these Bills are not part of an overarching singular constitution I'm not sure how they might move us towards a codified constitution anyway, remembering that a codified constitution is necessarily a single document.
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gladders
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(Original post by Tuerin)
I understand that you're saying that old conventions are increasingly being replaced with concrete laws, but that isn't really the same as saying our constitution is becoming 'increasingly codified'; by definition, a constitution is either codified or uncodified, written in a single document or not, and it doesn't make much sense to think of these developments as moving our constitution towards codification if it still remains dispersed among a range of sources. As a dichotomy it cannot gradually mutate into codification as the question implies, it is an immediate process.
I know what you're saying but for the purposes of the OP, I think he means increasingly written.
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Historicity
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For the essay talk about what exactly a codified constitution is made of. What degrees of difference there can be, talk about the US, who has it in less than 7000 word booklets and such.

Say how conventions that were not codified in recent times are becoming more likely to be codified as we enter a new age and the limits are tested. However also talk about how simply it is impossible to completely codify, there is so much to it we wouldn't even fill a room if we tried to codify it. It's an impossible task, so no, nobody has set baout it.

Talk about how it isn't as we still have ministers and votes of no confidence etc. Anymore questions feel free to ask hope that helps.
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Ellie Page
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Is the there much evidence of the constitution becoming more codified? Or what do you think the likelihood of the UK changing the uncodified constitution to a codified one?


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gladders
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(Original post by Ellie Page)
Is the there much evidence of the constitution becoming more codified? Or what do you think the likelihood of the UK changing the uncodified constitution to a codified one?
Unlikely. It would be a time-consuming effort just to get to where we are but just codified. There's also opposition from certain quarters (including myself) to codified constitutions in principle; they make things inflexible and constitutions need to evolve piecemeal in order to adapt and keep the polity healthy.
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Tycho
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Politics students?

The UK has a constitution?
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gladders
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(Original post by Tycho)
Politics students?

The UK has a constitution?
Yes!
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Psyk
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(Original post by Tycho)
Politics students?

The UK has a constitution?
The definition of "Constitution" is this according to Google:

1) A body of fundamental principles or established precedents according to which a state or other organization is acknowledged to be governed.
2) A written record of this.

If you think about the first definition, then I think it's true that every organisation has a constitution by definition. I don't see how something could be an "organisation" without any rules for how that organisation works and what it does.
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Tycho
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(Original post by Psyk)
The definition of "Constitution" is this according to Google:

1) A body of fundamental principles or established precedents according to which a state or other organization is acknowledged to be governed.
2) A written record of this.

If you think about the first definition, then I think it's true that every organisation has a constitution by definition. I don't see how something could be an "organisation" without any rules for how that organisation works and what it does.
Wasn't aware that it was referred to as a constitution in the UK though?
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gladders
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(Original post by Tycho)
Wasn't aware that it was referred to as a constitution in the UK though?
The House of Lords has a Constitution Committee, and the Commons has a Political and Constitutional Reform Committee. So yeah, it's a constitution.
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Psyk
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(Original post by Tycho)
Wasn't aware that it was referred to as a constitution in the UK though?
I guess we normally don't, because most people think of a constitution as a written document like most countries have. Doesn't mean it isn't a constitution strictly speaking.

But it's actually not that uncommon for politicians to talk about "constitutional matters".
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Will Lucky
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Nope, single act from Parliament can pretty much reverse anything.
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HMZ
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First you have to define what is the constitution i.e the set of rule in which how a country is govern blahblabla...
then identify different types of it; codified and unmodified and the British constitution fall under the latter. To elongate your essay and perhaps to show the examiner that you really know your stuff, explain what codified means i.e rules in a single authoritative document, as simple as that.

From then develop how the UK is unmodified/ not fully written in which parts of it can be found from statute laws, conventions, common laws etc. Don't mention too much but rather name a few BUT explain and GIVE EXAMPLES. E.g statute law is acts of parliament passed such as the HRA 1998 while conventions is..... e.g Salisbury Addison Convention.

Then ADDRESS the question: increasingly codified. I guess its not that the British Constitution is fully written is a single document but MORE is written down. Be careful not to drift away from the main question but with the good start from above, the flow will be much more reasonable and natural.

Mention how there is increasingly more written statutes law that have constitutional impacts(NOTE that not all statute law has significant impact such as ban of smoking in closed public spaces) The significant examples of statutes law with great constitutional impacts are such as HRA 1998, Data Protection Act 1998, Freedom of Information 2000 (try to expand more on this with some background info: when royal assent granted, enforced? what for?). Great answers will also include devolution to Scotland, Wales and N.Ireland in 1997/8 that contribute to how it is more codified in the light that it is more rigid and hard to change because it is derived via referendums, defying this means the Gov't is against the wish of the people.

Then you could mention how convention is increasingly written down with Ministerial codes from 1992 that revolves around the collective responsibility of the cabinet.

One more great point is the Coalition Agreement for stability and reform between Tory and Lib Dems signed in 2010 which you can say that the constitution (the ways how the country is govern) is becoming more codified.

Conclusion: re word everything and summarise depending if you r against or for but don't simply re write. I know this is not perfect as it is one sided but hopefully its good enough
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Sademajek
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Thank you so much you really helped me out!!!
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Official House of Commons
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The Political and Constitutional Reform Committee ran an inquiry into 'Mapping the path to codifying - or not codifying - the UK's Constitution' in 2010 and an second inquiry into 'A new Magna Carta?' earlier this year.

The reports and evidence sessions related to these inquiries may be of interest to this thread.
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Viikkiii
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I'm reallly stuck on how labours constitutional reforms, fixed term parliament act and the cabinet manual mean it is becoming increasingly codified?? Can somebody please explain this ((
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