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    Hello, I have just finished some of my summer work for AS Level Government and Politics. This topic was based on Governing Modern Britain and focuses a lot on the British Constitution. I am going to post the whole of the work, and could you please correct me if I have done something wrong or tell me any additional facts that you think I should incorporate into my work? Thank you!

    Governing Modern Britain

    Constitution

    A constitution is a set of rules, principles, laws and beliefs by which a state is governed. It establishes the distribution of power between the government and people, and between the government’s constituent parts. There are two types of constitutions – codified and uncodified. The British constitution is uncodifed as it is a mixture of different sources, both written and unwritten. The US constitution is an example of a codified constitution as it is written on one single document.

    The main sources of the British constitution

    The UK’s constitution draws upon a range of different sources, which do not have equal status or authority.

    Firstly, there is statue law, which consists primarily of the Acts of Parliament that help to define the relationship between the government and the people or between the different elements of the government. This source has in the past been branded as the supreme source of the UK constitution, but with the expansion in range and depth of EU Laws, the supremacy has been questioned. Under the doctrine of parliamentary sovereignty, the passing of a new statue could unmake any existing laws and overturn any other constitutional practice.

    Secondly, common law (which is often referred to as ‘case law’, or ‘judge-made law’) is a type of law, which has been developed and applied by UK courts through the actions of judges. A lot of the traditional civil liberties available to UK citizens were originally established by common law. These civil liberties are the rights and freedoms granted to citizens, such as freedom of speech and freedom of association. The Royal Prerogative, who have the power to declare war and pass treaties, are associated with the common law.

    Thirdly, there are conventions, which are habits, norms and rules that through long usage have evolved and became accepted as rules of behavior. Conventions have no real legal standing and therefore can easily be overturned by the passing of a parliamentary statute. The doctrine of collective responsibility is rooted with in conventions, where members of the cabinet are expected to publically support decisions made or to resign from their posts.

    Fourthly, there are EU laws and treaties. As a result of the UK incorporating the Treaty of Rome (1957) into the UK law as a result of the European Communities Act (1972), European laws and treaties are considered more important than our own national laws. While Parliament has the right to repeal the 1972 Act and subsequent treaties, the UK would as a result have to withdraw from the EU.

    Finally there are the works of authority, which are scholarly texts served to codify practices which aren’t outlined on paper anywhere else. Many of these works have been used as constitutional references for over 100 years, despite only having a persuasive authority. Some examples of these works are Walter Bagehot’s The English Constitution (1867) and A.V. Dicey’s An introduction to the Study of the Law of the Constitution (1885).

    Changing the British Constitution

    Codified constitutions (like that of the US) are said to be entrenched, and as a result makes the process of amending the codified document difficult. Changing the constitution would require those seeking changes to secure larger majorities than what would be needed to pass a regular statute.

    Because the UK constitution is uncodified, the process of making changes to it is considered to be a much easier process. One way amendments can be made is by simples Acts of Parliament (statue law). An example of this is the banning of handguns in the UK. In the wake of the murder of 16 school children and their teacher in Dunblane in 1996, Parliament was able to quickly ban all possession of handguns. In the US however, as a result of an entrenched codified constitution under the second amendment, people still have the right to possess handguns and those seeking changes struggle to enforce US-wide restrictions.

    Over the years it has become more common in the UK for statutory changes to be confirmed and legitimized through a public referendum, although this is not a legal requirement as it is in some EU states. An example of this happening in the UK is the Alternative Vote Referendum in 2011, allowing the public to decide whether ‘alternative voting’ should replace the UK’s current system to elect MP’s (‘first-past-the-post’). 32.1% of the nation voted in for of the change, and 67.9% rejected, therefore meaning the UK continues to use its original system.

    Finally, as a result of the constitutions uncodified nature, significant changes can be made as a result of changing practices (evolving conventions) and the rulings of judges (through the common law). An example of changes being made through conventions is if something goes wrong in the government, all members of the cabinet will come together and support the minister.
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    Heya, I'm going to put this in the Government & Politics forum for you as you should get more responses there.

    You should also check out the forum to see if there's any other threads there which might be helpful to you! http://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/forumdisplay.php?f=276
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    (Original post by gaslight182)
    Hello, I have just finished some of my summer work for AS Level Government and Politics. This topic was based on Governing Modern Britain and focuses a lot on the British Constitution. I am going to post the whole of the work, and could you please correct me if I have done something wrong or tell me any additional facts that you think I should incorporate into my work? Thank you!
    heya.

    are you British?
    the piece of work you did is very well done.
    impressive!
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    (Original post by Maura Kat)
    heya.

    are you British?
    the piece of work you did is very well done.
    impressive!
    Thank you! Yes I am British.
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    Don't know the context of AS work but in terms of making it a better academic piece generally I'd say your main weakness is examples throughout. Examples such as a piece of common law that is considered constitutional, what it's effect is and how it came to exist.

    I'd also say you mention Royal Prerogative in the passing to much. You could either add more detail or say it's not that relevant because....Otherwise it comes across like you mention it because you think you should but don't really know much- even if you don't know much about something you need to hide it

    I'm not one for giving you facts to include though, makes it too easy on you
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    (Original post by BKS)
    Don't know the context of AS work but in terms of making it a better academic piece generally I'd say your main weakness is examples throughout. Examples such as a piece of common law that is considered constitutional, what it's effect is and how it came to exist.

    I'd also say you mention Royal Prerogative in the passing to much. You could either add more detail or say it's not that relevant because....Otherwise it comes across like you mention it because you think you should but don't really know much- even if you don't know much about something you need to hide it

    I'm not one for giving you facts to include though, makes it too easy on you
    That's great! Thank you!
 
 
 
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