How is constitutional conventions distinct from the laws and mere habits Watch

Demi90
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Hi, was wondering how constitutional conventions distinct from the laws and mere habits and whether Ministerial Responsibility is precise enough to be considered a constitutional convention?

Please let me know what you guys think.
Thank you
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Maura Kat
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(Original post by Demi90)
Hi, was wondering how constitutional conventions distinct from the laws and mere habits and whether Ministerial Responsibility is precise enough to be considered a constitutional convention?

Please let me know what you guys think.
Thank you
Constitutional conventions lack legal enforcement. They are customs/traditions passed down from over the years to a point where it seems 'criminal' if one were to breach them.

You can give some examples of conventions like
  1. The Queen appoints the PM from the House of Commons
  2. The Parliament must meet once a year
  3. Members of the Legislature will not criticize the Judiciary


Laws of the land obviously are Acts of Parliament having gone thorough the legislative process and receiving the Royal Assent. The Bill then becomes a law.

Ministerial responsibility comprises of Individual and Collective. Individual deals with the minister himself and the need for him to resign if he as ceased to command the respect of the House of Commons.

Examples include James Prior on the Maze prison escape which must be contrasted with Thomas Dugdale on the Crichel Down Affair. Prior did not resign, Dugdale did.

Collective responsibility examples include Harold Wilson's lifting of the convention to allow for discussion on UK's continued membership. After the discussions were completed, the convention was restored. The reason why he lifted the convention was so that his ministers could freely say what they wanted instead of having to toe the party's line.

You need to understand that the reason why conventions are somewhat important is due to UK's lack of a written constitution. these conventions help to fill in the void but it can never be a good substitute for a written constitution.
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cephillips
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(Original post by Maura Kat)
Constitutional conventions lack legal enforcement. They are customs/traditions passed down from over the years to a point where it seems 'criminal' if one were to breach them.

You can give some examples of conventions like
  1. The Queen appoints the PM from the House of Commons
  2. The Parliament must meet once a year
  3. Members of the Legislature will not criticize the Judiciary


Laws of the land obviously are Acts of Parliament having gone thorough the legislative process and receiving the Royal Assent. The Bill then becomes a law.

Ministerial responsibility comprises of Individual and Collective. Individual deals with the minister himself and the need for him to resign if he as ceased to command the respect of the House of Commons.

Examples include James Prior on the Maze prison escape which must be contrasted with Thomas Dugdale on the Crichel Down Affair. Prior did not resign, Dugdale did.

Collective responsibility examples include Harold Wilson's lifting of the convention to allow for discussion on UK's continued membership. After the discussions were completed, the convention was restored. The reason why he lifted the convention was so that his ministers could freely say what they wanted instead of having to toe the party's line.

You need to understand that the reason why conventions are somewhat important is due to UK's lack of a written constitution. these conventions help to fill in the void but it can never be a good substitute for a written constitution.

The courts take cases involving conventions seriously though? Re Amendment to the Constitution[1981] and AG v Jonathon Cape Ltd show that the courts will try to find a way to enforce them... and just quickly, whether or not they make up for a written constitution is a completely different debate, there are many reasons why we should and why we should not have a codified written constitution, so a comment like that probably would require you to give your reasons for that
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Maura Kat
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(Original post by cephillips)
The courts take cases involving conventions seriously though? Re Amendment to the Constitution[1981] and AG v Jonathon Cape Ltd show that the courts will try to find a way to enforce them...
In the case of Jonathan Cape's which was the publishing company the convention that was apparent breached was that cabinet meetings are supposed to be secret.

richard crossman had a collection of diaries which documented such meetings and when he died his family wanted to release those diaries. at the court level although the judges agreed that cabinet meetings were secret and was a convention, they also stated something about 'if it was more than 10 years then its fine'.

http://kslr.org.uk/blogs/constitutio.../case-comment/

Don't get me wrong but I suggest that if you really want to help then do so properly. don't post posts in drips and drabs. :cool: I guess you're a law student? well you might want to brush up on your knowledge first before you start giving free advice here.
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cephillips
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(Original post by Maura Kat)
In the case of Jonathan Cape's which was the publishing company the convention that was apparent breached was that cabinet meetings are supposed to be secret....
I'm going to suggest you didn't read my comment carefully enough.. however i am not going to be pulled down to your level with personal comments, read the judgements of those two cases and come back to me. Also try to at least have an open mind and consider others opinions like so many others of us
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Maura Kat
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(Original post by cephillips)
I'm going to suggest you didn't read my comment carefully enough.. however i am not going to be pulled down to your level with personal comments, read the judgements of those two cases and come back to me. Also try to at least have an open mind and consider others opinions like so many others of us
define constitution and convention.
Could you do it off hand?
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cephillips
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(Original post by Maura Kat)
define constitution and convention.
Could you do it off hand?
I'd go with:
Constitution - essentially basic ground rules determining powers of governments and fundamental rights of individuals, including power allocation (and how it is divided among institutions, both horizontally and vertically) and accountability. In the UK's case this it is uncodified.

Convention - firstly to determine a convention you go to the Jennings test, so 1 What are the precedents? 2 Did the actors in the precedents believe that they were bound by a rule? 3 Is there a constitutional reason for the rule?. and to quote the man roughly "the flesh that clothes the bone of the law"
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Maura Kat
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(Original post by cephillips)
I'd go with:
Constitution - essentially basic ground rules determining powers of governments and fundamental rights of individuals, including power allocation (and how it is divided among institutions, both horizontally and vertically) and accountability. In the UK's case this it is uncodified.

Convention - firstly to determine a convention you go to the Jennings test, so 1 What are the precedents? 2 Did the actors in the precedents believe that they were bound by a rule? 3 Is there a constitutional reason for the rule?. and to quote the man roughly "the flesh that clothes the bone of the law"
If I were writing the exams, then this is what I'll put down.
Im in the business of picking up marks.

Professor KC Wheare defines the constitution of a state as:
“... the whole system of government of a country, the collection of rules which establish and regulate or govern the government.”


Thomas Paine defined constitution as not the act of a government, but of a people constituting a government; and government without a constitution, is power without a right...A Constitution is a Thing antecedent to Government, and a Government is only the Creature of a Constitution.

A.V Dicey Dicey classified constitutional conventions as ‘understandings, habits or practices which, though may regulate the conduct of the several members of the sovereign power…are not in reality laws at all since they are not enforced by courts.'
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