Do you think the UK should have a codified constitution like the USA? And why/why not

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ryukk
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I'm just curious about what people think. Do you think there would be more cons that outweigh the pros? Personally I think the UK is better without a written constitution because it allows us to adapt to situations more appropriately. Also currently in the USA, there are protests for the economy to reopen and the lockdown laws lifted which is absurd because the circumstances would just get worse however these people argue that they're practising their 1st amendment. Examples like this are why I believe the UK should never have a codified constitution.
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Napp
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No because, as you said, our unwritten constitution tends to give us far greater latitude and flexibility to deal with problems as they arise. The american model is utterly inflexible, especially with such polarised politics, and simply cannot be realistically altered. after all, whilst having societies standards, beliefs and morals codified is not a bad thing per-say.. the inability to change it as society changes most certainly is, leaving it completely retrograde.
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username1799249
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Not a chance. The US's constitution is now so objectified in the minds of so many people, their society is totally inflexible to the point where we now have governors buckling under public pressure to go back to work despite the fact that this is totally against the best interests of the nation right now.

The US is a total mess right now and I don't think we should be looking to emulate anything from the US.
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landscape2014
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It is a fact that the UK has never had a written constitution. The constitutional history of England is in large part a record of the contest for influence over government policy by the landed and commercial classes and their combined opposition to the removal of property qualifications that had from the C13th been imposed on voters and members of the House of Commons which eventually resulted in a polyarchic, aristocratic/plutocratic legislature for most of its existence. The outcome of those contests is a set of constitutional arrangements composed of a pot-pourri of case law, political conventions and administrative rules whose endorsement by the polity was, and still is, not required. The legal historian Maitland (UK, C19th ) wrote,’ If we are to learn anything about the [British] constitution it is necessary first and foremost to learn a good deal about land law. We can make no progress in the history of parliament without speaking of tenure indeed our whole constitutional law seems at times to be but an appendix to the law of real property.’ (not the rights of the people). We have constitutional arrangements that can be altered at will by statutory instruments controlled by ministers or Parliament because it is sovereign (not the polity, which would be the ultimate authority in a democracy). The British constitution does not exist in an intelligible written form accessible to the polity. The constitutional arrangements say what parliament says they mean and should the judiciary come to a different conclusion the government of the day may change it to suit. Its is not a single codified document - so its not a constitution - ’That’s is one of its strengths?' It is undoubtedly a strength for the political executive, they can ignore, add or alter it to suit the ruling establishment's will. Since as Maitland presciently observed, ’We can make no progress in the history of parliament without speaking of tenure indeed our whole constitutional law seems at times to be but an appendix to the law of real property.’ our present constitutional arrangements are determined by property law rather than inalienable rights of individuals, those arrangements were and are meant to maintain the rights of propertied individual national against that of the disinherited individual national. Without a written constitution no individual can be apprised of their rights and hold authority figures to account for transgressing them and without property they cannot be free to cooperate or not, to deal with one another or not, as their own individual judgements, convictions and interests dictate’, they cannot create a constitutional democracy (the constitution being necessary to protect the individual from the enmity of majorities and minorities). Legally we are subjects of the monarch who owns all the UK, people hold land of the monarch, they don’t legally own it. This is no functioning democracy, it is a functioning hereditary monarchy headed by a celebrity whose powers were seized by parliament (making it sovereign) after it connived at the murder one of the present incumbent’s relatives. The settlement of 1066 remains intact as a legal device to deny the British their property, their country, that minuscule property interest in Britain that would allow them the liberty to be free to cooperate or not, to deal with one another or not, as their own individual judgements, convictions and interests dictate’; that is live in a constitutional democracy.
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Catherine1973
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No as it’s fine as it is and it would take a huge amount of time to do, and no political party wants it (bar liberals)
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nexttime
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(Original post by ryukk)
I'm just curious about what people think. Do you think there would be more cons that outweigh the pros? Personally I think the UK is better without a written constitution because it allows us to adapt to situations more appropriately. Also currently in the USA, there are protests for the economy to reopen and the lockdown laws lifted which is absurd because the circumstances would just get worse however these people argue that they're practising their 1st amendment. Examples like this are why I believe the UK should never have a codified constitution.
(Original post by Napp)
No because, as you said, our unwritten constitution tends to give us far greater latitude and flexibility to deal with problems as they arise. The american model is utterly inflexible, especially with such polarised politics, and simply cannot be realistically altered. after all, whilst having societies standards, beliefs and morals codified is not a bad thing per-say.. the inability to change it as society changes most certainly is, leaving it completely retrograde.
(Original post by ByEeek)
Not a chance. The US's constitution is now so objectified in the minds of so many people, their society is totally inflexible to the point where we now have governors buckling under public pressure to go back to work despite the fact that this is totally against the best interests of the nation right now.

The US is a total mess right now and I don't think we should be looking to emulate anything from the US.
But would a written constitution have to be like that?

America is quite different to the UK. Many Americans actually seem to think that 'our founding fathers did x therefore good' is a logical argument. I... can't imagine a British person ever saying that about Queen Victoria, or William Pitt the Younger? They treat their constitution as some kind of religious text... but maybe that's because they are much more religious. They strongly resist government but that's because their nation was founded to protest against tax.

Perhaps you could have a constitution that... isn't worshipped? One that isn't impossible to change? Its not like our government is perfect as it is anyway.

Having said that, I don't see the point and it would be a huge and costly bureaucratic nightmare and no lets not have one!
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username1799249
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(Original post by nexttime)
I... can't imagine a British person ever saying that about Queen Victoria, or William Pitt the Younger?
I couldn't have imagined the US embracing a dictator or the UK being so compliant about government advice. And 15 years ago I couldn't imagine the affluent Syria being war torn.

Under the right circumstances anything can happen. What I fail to understand is what a constitution gives me that I don't have now. In terms of rights, we have laws. What is wrong with that?
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landscape2014
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(Original post by ByEeek)
I couldn't have imagined the US embracing a dictator or the UK being so compliant about government advice. And 15 years ago I couldn't imagine the affluent Syria being war torn.

Under the right circumstances anything can happen. What I fail to understand is what a constitution gives me that I don't have now. In terms of rights, we have laws. What is wrong with that?
It would recognise in law that you had an unalienable right to life and in support of that you would have subsumed a property right in the territory of the UK. You and all other nationals would be entitled to ground rent from anyone who exercised exclusive occupation of any part of the UK and subsistence from taxation because exclusive occupation robs you (and everybody else) of the ability to look after yourself. No government legislation could be enforced that contravened the constitution. An ombudsman's office headed by the chief legal officer of the country would monitor all legislation and pronounce on its legality vis a vis the constitution (the HoL would be consigned to the dustbin of history).
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username1799249
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(Original post by landscape2014)
It would recognise in law that you had an unalienable right to life and in support of that you would have subsumed a property right in the territory of the UK. You and all other nationals would be entitled to ground rent from anyone who exercised exclusive occupation of any part of the UK and subsistence from taxation because exclusive occupation robs you (and everybody else) of the ability to look after yourself. No government legislation could be enforced that contravened the constitution. An ombudsman's office headed by the chief legal officer of the country would monitor all legislation and pronounce on its legality vis a vis the constitution (the HoL would be consigned to the dustbin of history).
But we have all of that in law already, more or less. And the government is held to account by the supreme court which unlike the US is not elected by the government.

It seems to me that the constitution you crave is really just a few more specifics laws of rights.
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Catherine1973
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Our current laws could, in theory, just be repealed. A constitution would need a special process to change it (in theory)
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landscape2014
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(Original post by ByEeek)
But we have all of that in law already, more or less. And the government is held to account by the supreme court which unlike the US is not elected by the government.

It seems to me that the constitution you crave is really just a few more specifics laws of rights.
What part of the present constitutional arrangements allows for the philosophic fiction of an unalienable right to life supported by subsumed property in the territory of the UK so you and all other nationals would be entitled to ground rent from anyone who exercised exclusive occupation of any part of the UK and subsistence from taxation because private exclusive occupation robs you (and everybody else) of the ability to look after yourself?
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username1799249
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(Original post by landscape2014)
What part of the present constitutional arrangements allows for the philosophic fiction of an unalienable right to life supported by subsumed property in the territory of the UK so you and all other nationals would be entitled to ground rent from anyone who exercised exclusive occupation of any part of the UK and subsistence from taxation because private exclusive occupation robs you (and everybody else) of the ability to look after yourself?
Our human rights laws give us all the right to life. I have no idea what "supported by subsumed property in the territory of the UK so you and all other nationals would be entitled to ground rent from anyone who exercised exclusive occupation of any part of the UK" means. Could you explain it in non-legal English?

But as for my ability to look after myself - what are you on about? I work. I earn money - I buy stuff I want. I pay taxes. In return I receive benefits such as free healthcare, social security and other benefits. Seems like a good deal to me. I couldn't provide my own health cover and everything else I get from the government for less than I pay in taxes.

You sound American.
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Aph
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Yes but not like the US's. Constitutions provide stability and set out a clear set of rules that must be abided by. I know that there is an argument that they can become too rigid but that's also kinda the point.

Having a clear set of rules should, in theory, prevent abuses of power and protect the people. That is especially important with constitutional law because it becomes tricky when you have courts making common law rulings on the constitution in this pay and age (Millers 1 and 2). Having a codified set of rules that simply needs enforcement would, in my view, protect citizens from abuses of power and help to keep the courts and even the queen out of political games.
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The Mogg
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Absolutely. The whole point of a constitution is to be inflexible, it means the state can't just come and take the rights and freedoms from its citizens. As a libertarian, I find myself a fan of the US Constitution and would honestly not make masses of changes to it if one similar was to be implemented here. The flexibility of our legal system is rather worrying in my point of view, the fact that any government could just come and repeal our right to freedom of speech for example is a terrifying thought.
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landscape2014
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(Original post by ByEeek)
Our human rights laws give us all the right to life. I have no idea what "supported by subsumed property in the territory of the UK so you and all other nationals would be entitled to ground rent from anyone who exercised exclusive occupation of any part of the UK" means. Could you explain it in non-legal English?

But as for my ability to look after myself - what are you on about? I work. I earn money - I buy stuff I want. I pay taxes. In return I receive benefits such as free healthcare, social security and other benefits. Seems like a good deal to me. I couldn't provide my own health cover and everything else I get from the government for less than I pay in taxes.

You sound American.
What species of American? Without a written constitution no individual can be apprised of their rights and hold authority figures to account for transgressing them and without property they cannot be free to cooperate or not, to deal with one another or not, as their own individual judgements, convictions and interests dictate, we have constitutional arrangements that can be altered at will by statutory instruments controlled by ministers or Parliament because it is sovereign (not the polity, which would be the ultimate authority in a democracy). The British constitution does not exist in an intelligible written form accessible to the polity so the constitutional arrangements say what parliament says they mean and should the judiciary come to a different conclusion the government of the day may change it to suit. There is no written constitution to inform the polity of the bounds of parliaments powers, powers it obtained by murdering a previous monarch so it would become sovereign not the people.

Rights only exist for those who can get them enforced and in this country that means those who can exercise the right of property, as Maitland observed about our legislature, ’We can make no progress in the history of parliament without speaking of tenure indeed our whole constitutional law seems at times to be but an appendix to the law of real property.’ The absence of a written constitution means the only way to counter assaults by the government of the day on access to a basic need is direct action (remember the poll tax riots!). Governments do not often court electoral disaster by such blatant attacks on the poor as Thatcher's administration they learned that to attack the public funding of services they need to advance privatisation policies (which have debatable public support) by stealth (because they fear there is little public support). They can do this because there is no written constitution whose provisions would protect the public from the excesses of partisan government.

In pursuit of that protection people need property in the territory that forms the UK. Legally we are subjects of the monarch who owns all the UK, people hold land of the monarch, they don’t legally own it. The settlement of 1066 remains intact as a legal device to deny the British their property in the land. The monarch never paid for it, it was annexed by murder and intimidation which in present legal philosophy does not give good title. The monarchs through the ages have all inherited it at no cost to themselves. An Act of Parliament is all that is required to divest the monarch of title to the UK (their position as Head of State need not be affected) and settle it on the individual nationals who are British. That would mean that every Briton would own one sixty-millionth of every sub-division of the territory, ownership that would be held in trust for them by the State (as laid out in a written constitution). As owners every Briton would be entitled to ground rent (say £10 from a levy of 0.2p/m2 - £8/acre, to raise £0.6 billion, present UK tax take is about £840 billion) from those who wish to exclusively occupy their land and legally deny them access to it. The owners of vast swathes of the country would have to pay for their exclusive occupation (The average detached house would pay about £3 p.a., the average terraced house £1.5 p.a., the Duke of Buccleugh would pay at least £2.28mn p.a., Duke of Athol £1.18mn p.a., Duchy of Cornwall £1.09mn p.a. and the Duchy of Lancaster about £0.38mn p.a. ).

Those who exclusively occupy territory would taxed proportionately to their holdings. You appear to be in a fortunate position, millions of your fellow subjects are not and it is totally understandable that you take the insular view, your all-right Jack, millions embrace the same philosophy, other millions are not so well placed and are unable to work their way out of poverty - they have no property and like the serf who could not say no to the medieval lord of the manor they cannot say no to the major or minor capitalist. They cannot cooperate or not, deal with one another or not, as their own individual judgements, convictions and interests dictate’ they have no property.
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username1799249
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(Original post by landscape2014)
What species of American? Without a written constitution no individual can be apprised of their rights and hold authority figures to account for transgressing them and without property they cannot be free to cooperate or not, to deal with one another or not, as their own individual judgements, convictions and interests dictate, we have constitutional arrangements that can be altered at will by statutory instruments controlled by ministers or Parliament because it is sovereign (not the polity, which would be the ultimate authority in a democracy). The British constitution does not exist in an intelligible written form accessible to the polity so the constitutional arrangements say what parliament says they mean and should the judiciary come to a different conclusion the government of the day may change it to suit. There is no written constitution to inform the polity of the bounds of parliaments powers, powers it obtained by murdering a previous monarch so it would become sovereign not the people.

Rights only exist for those who can get them enforced and in this country that means those who can exercise the right of property, as Maitland observed about our legislature, ’We can make no progress in the history of parliament without speaking of tenure indeed our whole constitutional law seems at times to be but an appendix to the law of real property.’ The absence of a written constitution means the only way to counter assaults by the government of the day on access to a basic need is direct action (remember the poll tax riots!). Governments do not often court electoral disaster by such blatant attacks on the poor as Thatcher's administration they learned that to attack the public funding of services they need to advance privatisation policies (which have debatable public support) by stealth (because they fear there is little public support). They can do this because there is no written constitution whose provisions would protect the public from the excesses of partisan government.

In pursuit of that protection people need property in the territory that forms the UK. Legally we are subjects of the monarch who owns all the UK, people hold land of the monarch, they don’t legally own it. The settlement of 1066 remains intact as a legal device to deny the British their property in the land. The monarch never paid for it, it was annexed by murder and intimidation which in present legal philosophy does not give good title. The monarchs through the ages have all inherited it at no cost to themselves. An Act of Parliament is all that is required to divest the monarch of title to the UK (their position as Head of State need not be affected) and settle it on the individual nationals who are British. That would mean that every Briton would own one sixty-millionth of every sub-division of the territory, ownership that would be held in trust for them by the State (as laid out in a written constitution). As owners every Briton would be entitled to ground rent (say £10 from a levy of 0.2p/m2 - £8/acre, to raise £0.6 billion, present UK tax take is about £840 billion) from those who wish to exclusively occupy their land and legally deny them access to it. The owners of vast swathes of the country would have to pay for their exclusive occupation (The average detached house would pay about £3 p.a., the average terraced house £1.5 p.a., the Duke of Buccleugh would pay at least £2.28mn p.a., Duke of Athol £1.18mn p.a., Duchy of Cornwall £1.09mn p.a. and the Duchy of Lancaster about £0.38mn p.a. ).

Those who exclusively occupy territory would taxed proportionately to their holdings. You appear to be in a fortunate position, millions of your fellow subjects are not and it is totally understandable that you take the insular view, your all-right Jack, millions embrace the same philosophy, other millions are not so well placed and are unable to work their way out of poverty - they have no property and like the serf who could not say no to the medieval lord of the manor they cannot say no to the major or minor capitalist. They cannot cooperate or not, deal with one another or not, as their own individual judgements, convictions and interests dictate’ they have no property.
I think the biggest question is why is this even an issue? Even if the queen does own the whole world, can you imagine the backlash and consequences to government and security if she tried to enforce her rights?

I think one of the wonderful things about this country is that by and large we don't need a constitution because generally speaking constitutional matters are dealt with on the basis of "doing the right thing". It is the same with the police. We are pretty unique in that we are policed by consent and not by force. Why? Because it is the right thing. And it works. We are a law abiding country that on the whole doesn't try to take the p1ss and as a result of that it all works. We don't need a constitution and we certainly don't need one to fill in gaps that were created 1000 years ago. Clearly, the lack of a need is evident in the fact that no one has stepped over the mark in the last 1000 years to the point where the citizens of this country have demanded one. And we do demand stuff - I think Brexit is a clear example of that so the idea that we sit idly by waiting to be told what to do is a nonsense.

As for your land issue - who pays the rent? And for what purpose? I think if you have just paid several million quid for some rather beautiful but very unproductive land like say the National Trust do, you might be a bit peeved that you are paying rent on land that doesn't make any money and was bought for the better of everyone. I don't think you have though this through. The likes of Alaska only pay money to their citizens because a) there are not many citizens and b) they earn a tonne of cash through oil and mining. It wouldn't work in this country.
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Reality Check
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(Original post by landscape2014)
What species of American? Without a written constitution no individual can be apprised of their rights and hold authority figures to account for transgressing them and without property they cannot be free to cooperate or not, to deal with one another or not, as their own individual judgements, convictions and interests dictate, we have constitutional arrangements that can be altered at will by statutory instruments controlled by ministers or Parliament because it is sovereign (not the polity, which would be the ultimate authority in a democracy). The British constitution does not exist in an intelligible written form accessible to the polity so the constitutional arrangements say what parliament says they mean and should the judiciary come to a different conclusion the government of the day may change it to suit. There is no written constitution to inform the polity of the bounds of parliaments powers, powers it obtained by murdering a previous monarch so it would become sovereign not the people.

Rights only exist for those who can get them enforced and in this country that means those who can exercise the right of property, as Maitland observed about our legislature, ’We can make no progress in the history of parliament without speaking of tenure indeed our whole constitutional law seems at times to be but an appendix to the law of real property.’ The absence of a written constitution means the only way to counter assaults by the government of the day on access to a basic need is direct action (remember the poll tax riots!). Governments do not often court electoral disaster by such blatant attacks on the poor as Thatcher's administration they learned that to attack the public funding of services they need to advance privatisation policies (which have debatable public support) by stealth (because they fear there is little public support). They can do this because there is no written constitution whose provisions would protect the public from the excesses of partisan government.

In pursuit of that protection people need property in the territory that forms the UK. Legally we are subjects of the monarch who owns all the UK, people hold land of the monarch, they don’t legally own it. The settlement of 1066 remains intact as a legal device to deny the British their property in the land. The monarch never paid for it, it was annexed by murder and intimidation which in present legal philosophy does not give good title. The monarchs through the ages have all inherited it at no cost to themselves. An Act of Parliament is all that is required to divest the monarch of title to the UK (their position as Head of State need not be affected) and settle it on the individual nationals who are British. That would mean that every Briton would own one sixty-millionth of every sub-division of the territory, ownership that would be held in trust for them by the State (as laid out in a written constitution). As owners every Briton would be entitled to ground rent (say £10 from a levy of 0.2p/m2 - £8/acre, to raise £0.6 billion, present UK tax take is about £840 billion) from those who wish to exclusively occupy their land and legally deny them access to it. The owners of vast swathes of the country would have to pay for their exclusive occupation (The average detached house would pay about £3 p.a., the average terraced house £1.5 p.a., the Duke of Buccleugh would pay at least £2.28mn p.a., Duke of Athol £1.18mn p.a., Duchy of Cornwall £1.09mn p.a. and the Duchy of Lancaster about £0.38mn p.a. ).

Those who exclusively occupy territory would taxed proportionately to their holdings. You appear to be in a fortunate position, millions of your fellow subjects are not and it is totally understandable that you take the insular view, your all-right Jack, millions embrace the same philosophy, other millions are not so well placed and are unable to work their way out of poverty - they have no property and like the serf who could not say no to the medieval lord of the manor they cannot say no to the major or minor capitalist. They cannot cooperate or not, deal with one another or not, as their own individual judgements, convictions and interests dictate’ they have no property.
I can't remember coming across a post so difficult to read as this. It's interesting from a language and style-of-writing point of view. Thanks!
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username1799249
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(Original post by The Mogg)
Absolutely. The whole point of a constitution is to be inflexible, it means the state can't just come and take the rights and freedoms from its citizens. As a libertarian, I find myself a fan of the US Constitution and would honestly not make masses of changes to it if one similar was to be implemented here. The flexibility of our legal system is rather worrying in my point of view, the fact that any government could just come and repeal our right to freedom of speech for example is a terrifying thought.
Just out of curiosity, where do you stand in the balance of allowing people to go about their liberty and the state inflicting restrictions on personal liberty for the greater good of society at large?

I note that the US is coming under serious threat as a nation from an indevisive leader and weak / loose systems of governance.
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landscape2014
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(Original post by ByEeek)
I think the biggest question is why is this even an issue? Even if the queen does own the whole world, can you imagine the backlash and consequences to government and security if she tried to enforce her rights?

I think one of the wonderful things about this country is that by and large we don't need a constitution because generally speaking constitutional matters are dealt with on the basis of "doing the right thing". It is the same with the police. We are pretty unique in that we are policed by consent and not by force. Why? Because it is the right thing. And it works. We are a law abiding country that on the whole doesn't try to take the p1ss and as a result of that it all works. We don't need a constitution and we certainly don't need one to fill in gaps that were created 1000 years ago. Clearly, the lack of a need is evident in the fact that no one has stepped over the mark in the last 1000 years to the point where the citizens of this country have demanded one. And we do demand stuff - I think Brexit is a clear example of that so the idea that we sit idly by waiting to be told what to do is a nonsense.

As for your land issue - who pays the rent? And for what purpose? I think if you have just paid several million quid for some rather beautiful but very unproductive land like say the National Trust do, you might be a bit peeved that you are paying rent on land that doesn't make any money and was bought for the better of everyone. I don't think you have though this through. The likes of Alaska only pay money to their citizens because a) there are not many citizens and b) they earn a tonne of cash through oil and mining. It wouldn't work in this country.
Your appreciation of the blood-soaked history of this country (like most others) is apparent. Who pays the rent - everyone who exclusively occupies the territory of the British. The operative word is exclusively if the British have unimpeded access to land it doesn't matter whether a public or a private organisation /individual owns it, no charge will be made. Once an organisation or individual denies access to the public, ground rent is due to the public for being excluded.
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username1799249
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(Original post by landscape2014)
Your appreciation of the blood-soaked history of this country (like most others) is apparent. Who pays the rent - everyone who exclusively occupies the territory of the British. The operative word is exclusively if the British have unimpeded access to land it doesn't matter whether a public or a private organisation /individual owns it, no charge will be made. Once an organisation or individual denies access to the public, ground rent is due to the public for being excluded.
Ok. That makes no sense. What is wrong with the current system where I own the land I have bought and I'm happy for the queen to have some legalese right over it granted her a 1000 years ago but which she will never assert?

As for ground rent. Is the tax system not a version of what you propose? And I do pay ground rent but it is called council tax. As for monies that come back to me - well, my kids are taught in school free of charge and I get free health insurance. A ground rent system is just another tax system and wouldn't work as land owners would simply declare their land open and public whilst providing physical barriers to prevent people real access. Then it would be down to individuals to go to a costly court hearing to make a moot point.

As for the queen - seriously, I feel more vulnerable over the fact there was no tomato puree for sale in Aldi today over the fact the queen might assert a thousand year law on me.
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