You are on page 1of 2

A constitution ia a set of rules which define the relationship between the various organs of governement and between the

government and citizens of a country.Its purpouse is to set the parameters of a governamental power and the rights and duties of the citizens.Therefore ,the cinstitution of any individual country will determine the system of government in that country Before we go on examine the nature of the British constitution it is important that you have a clear understanding of what is meant by the`organs` or "institution` of government.In this context we mean the executive, the legislature and the judiciary.In addition ,in the United Kingdom,,the monarch has an important constitutional role as head of state Because the rules of a constitution are laws of fundamental importance ,it is not surprising that they are often embodied in a single written document.Thus,for example ,the Constitution of the United States was reducedto writing in 1787 and the document which comprises it( as subsenquently amended ) lays down the fundamental law of America today.Further the U.S. Constitution ,like many other written constitutions ,can not be altered easly constitutional amendment can only be carried if a very substantial majority ,bouth in Congress and the individual States,approve it . Our constitution is just as important to us as the U.S.Constitution is to the Americans.Nevertheless,it is not "written ":that is to say,it has never been reduced to writing.Further ,since parliament is`sovereing` it can`t without any special procedure ,and be simple Act,alther any law at anytime however fundamental it may seem to be .Althought ,therefore our courts have always been astute ,to saveguard the rights of the subject and althought certain legal remedies,such as habeas corpus are designed to protect him ,yet ,under our constitution,there are no guaranteed rights similar ti the fundamental liberties saveguarded by the U.S.Constitution The statement that our constitution is not "written" does not mean that we possess no important constitutional documents,it means that the constitution is not embodied in any single document ,or series of documents,containing our essential constitutional laws.Thus we have many enactments which either have been or still are,of great importance..One need only cite as examples Magna Carta (1215),the Bill of Rights(1688)-which sets out the principal rights gained by Parliament and the nation as the result of the seventeenth century constitutional struggles-the Act of Settlement (1700),and the Parliament Acts 1911 and 1949. A number of issues in this relate to our earlier definition of constitution -the extent and control of government power and the protection of the rights of the citizens. The first major source for the law of the constitution comes in the form of legislation.The Magna Carta ,extracted from King John in 1215 under threat of civil war ,was the earliest attempt to limit the powers of the monarch and to define the extent of the rights and liberties his might hope to enjoy.The re-enactement of this Great Charter in 1297 constitues the first in a long series of statues dealing with ever-shifting functions of the major organs of government and their relationship with one another. 1297,Re-issue of the Magna Carta(1215)is a declaration of certain fundamental principles:no one should lose his life or liberty "except by the lawful judgement of his equals and by the law of the land":the king should not sell,deny or delay justice;punishment should be in relation to the seriousness of the crime,etc. The Instrument of Government (1653) was a first attempt to draw up a written setting out the different functions of the Lord Protector (Oliver Cromwel),or his Council of State and of Parliament,as well as various safeguards against the abuse of power,and specifying how often Parliament should be summoned and who might be aligible to vote in election,etc. The Bill of Rights (1689) it declares that the monarch`s pretended power of suspecting or dispensing with laws without the consent of parliament is illegal,that elections and debate in Parliament should be free,and the Parliament should be summoned frenquently,etc. Act of Union (1707)- this brought the abolition of the Scottish Parliament and united the governments of England and Scotland. The Representation of the People Act (1867)is the second reform Act brought about a further of parliamentary franchise and redistribution of seats.This resulted in an increase in the middle-class vote in the contries,and the enfranchisement of the artisans in the towns. The Ballot Act (1872) was a vital pece of legislation,setting up the secret ballot at parliamentary elections and there by doing away with the old system of voting in public which made voters so vulnerable to pressure from over-enthusianstic candidates. The Parliament Act (1911)down the reduced powers of the House Of Lords with regard to Money Bills in particular-the maximum the House could delay such a bill was limited to 1 month and Public Bills in general.It also shortened the life of Parliament from 7 to 5 years. The representation of the People Act (1928) removed the remaining discrimination against women..Registration as a voter was henceforth on the basis of age (21 and over) ,and residence in the constituency concerned (a minimum period of 3 month). The Representation of The People Act de 1969 lowered the voting age to 18. The European Communities Act (1985) contains provisions Concerning the voting rights of expatriate Brition and holidaymakers.

are laws in the ordinary sense.but they are certain other rules which govern the working of the constitution which are not laws in this sense . a ministry which is defeated on a major issue in the House of Commons should either resign or advise the Queen to grant a convention .though legally it need only meet once in three years.althought it is not usually treated in works on constitutional law as we have seen .they will be recognized and enforced by the courts.They are called "conventions". .the fact that the courts treat themselves as bound to apply Acts of Parliament is conventional..and they are adhered to.and so is the doctrine of judicial precedent itself.this convention is .or agreement. Many of the rules which govern the functioning of the central government and the relationship of the Executive to the Legislature are this conventional.but because political expedience and respect for tradition demand their observance.not because the courts will enforce them.such for example as the provision of the Act of Settlement.tacit or express.for parliament alone can grant the Government the funds it needs annually for the public administration . By convention..once they have developed.Many constitutional rules .By convention of Parliament must be summoned at least once a year.If it advises dissolution and is then defeated at the ensuing general election it should .resing either at once or upon its first defeat in the House of Commons. They arise from usage .grounded firmly upon political expedience.Finally.that is to say.