Does the UK need a codified constitution?

Arguments for
• There is too much power vested in the executive. A new constitutional settlement is needed to disperse power more widely. • There is too much power in the centre, in London. • The prerogative powers exercised by the government on behalf of the Crown are ill-defined and uncontrolled. Prerogative-based actions can only be limited if the courts judge them to be excessive. Decisions such as the declaration of war, the committal of British troops to battle, the signing of foreign treaties and general foreign policy initiatives are all taken under discretionary prerogative powers. • The rights of citizens are under threat and require greater protection. The police have been given increasing powers as crime and the threat of terrorism have increased. The state holds a huge amount of information about individuals. Rights in the workplace need firmer guarantees as trade unions have become weaker.

Arguments against
• A constitution would weaken government. The British government is admired for its ability to control the legislature, to carry out electoral mandate without delay and to deal with unforeseen circumstances without encountering the hindrance of too many constitutional restraints. • The current situation is flexible and adaptable. The British constitution has been able to adapt to circumstance. • The judiciary would have to become more involved in resolving constitutional disputes. Many of these concern the power of government, so are political. Should judges be involved, given that they are neither elected nor responsible? • An entrenched constitution or Bill of Rights would remove the sovereignty of Parliament. It would challenge the institutions of the monarch and Parliament.