Supporters of a written and clearly defined constitution believe that as society has had itsliberties more and more encroached on by central government, the Rule of Law is moreimportant now than ever. They claim that central government has sought and seeks toundermine the three basic tenets of Dicey’s code with an increase in things such as:the Official Secrets Actthe attempt to remove an individual’s right to trial by jurythe activities of the Secret Service (especially after September 11th)removing what were considered traditional rights (such as the removal of the workers right atGCHQ to belong to a trade union under the Thatcher government (though brought backsince 1997)The gagging clause that now has to be signed by those in the Civil Service after the ClivePonting and Belgrano issue shortly after the end of the Falklands War
However, individuals still retain a great deal of personal freedom and many individuals willnever be affected by the Official Secrets Act or the activities of Britain’s secret services(though they may not know if they are being investigated or not!) It is agreed with some justification that a modern society needs bodies like MI5 and MI6 simply because there are atiny number of individuals who wish to subvert society and have to be dealt with accordingly. A law-abiding individual, it is argued, need never worry about such organisations. Also there are bodies that theoretically oversee the activities of government agencies andtheir work – such as the Council of Tribunals and the Parliamentary Commissioner. It isargued that these bodies help to protect the rights of the individual at the expense of anyincursions into their personal freedom by government agencies
The Supremacy of Parliament
The development of the supremacy of Parliament stemmed from the English Civil War andhas expanded ever since and is a dominant theme inBritish Politics. Those MP's whorepresent the public viarepresentative democracy, have been handed the power to assess,pass or reject legislation. In every sense, the supremacy of Parliament is the backbone of British Politicsand is only possibly threatened by aspects of the work of theEuropeanCommissionand other European Union institutions.
Parliament can pass, repeal and alter any of Britain’s laws. This is one of the major powersthat a government has. The Conservatives lead by Margaret Thatcher banned trade unionsat GCHQ believing that they had no place in an organisation that is of great importance toBritain’s national security. This decision was reversed in 1997 by the newly elected Labour government of Tony Blair. Parliament also has the power – after going through its ownparliamentary processes – of altering its own laws.In theory there is no body that can declare a law passed by Parliament as unconstitutional -though the full impact of theEuropean Courtis not yet known in 2002. Courts have taken ongovernment decisions over technicalities such as when Michael Howard as Home Secretarysent the Jamie Bulgar killers to prison for an unspecified term. The Courts deemed thisillegal as they decided that only a person working within the judiciary had the right to come