Essay Example on Evaluate and discuss the extent to which constitutional Acts affect the unitary Nature

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The aim of this essay is to evaluate and discuss the extent to which constitutional Acts affect the unitary nature of the constitution In theory the constitution in the United Kingdom is unitary and there is no written constitution to control the powers of the central government However a sovereign legislative body exists which represents the ultimate law making power in the state Power is given to the Welsh Scottish and Northern Irish legislatures and to the local government under the Acts of the U K Parliament in order to fulfilling functions such as the provision of services and raising local revenue to finance such services All legislation is identified as a source of the constitution However legislation that is associated with the function and form of the state is constitutional legislation In the case of Thorburn v Sunderland City Council Laws J stated that in his opinion a constitutional statute is one which a conditions the legal relationship between citizen and the state in some general overarching manner or b enlarges or diminishes the scope of what we would now regard as fundamental constitutional rights He then proceeded by listing the Magna Carta the Bill of Rights the Acts which establish devolution and the Parliament Acts of 1991 and 1949 as constitutional In The law of the Constitution A V Dicey states that repeal is the abrogation of a previous law by the enactment of a later law The doctrines of express and implied repeal can make this possible Express repeal consists of a new Act that expressly states that it repeals the provisions of an older Act On the other hand implied repeal consists of a new Act that does not state that it expressly repeals the older Act Dicey on The Law of the Constitution stated that Parliament cannot bind its successors as to the content manner and form of subsequent legislation however in the book 



The Law and the Constitution Sir Ivor Jennings said that A rule expressed by a King in Parliament will be recognised by the courts including a rule which alters the rule itself For instance Parliament could enact new legislation to repeal an older constitutional Act by having a referendum The British Government followed this process in 2016 by introducing the European Union Withdrawal Bill in order to repeal the 1972 European Communities Act Entrenchment is a provision that makes certain amendments more difficult or impossible to pass However an entrenchment clause may be overridden by a supermajority or a referendum Notions of entrenchment have been raised in a number of constitutional Acts For example section 2 1 of the Parliament Act of 1911 prevents the Commons from modifying or removing any of the conditions which grant its law making power Constitutional Acts can also be politically entrenched due to their content and political importance such as the Scotland Act of 1998 which established the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh In the late 1990s Scotland Wales and Northern Ireland held successful referendums on devolution This led to the creation of separate Assemblies and Parliaments and to the establishment of the democratic election of officials This process granted different amounts of power from the UK Parliament to the UK s nations However the UK Parliament remained in control of the devolved institutions The devolution of Scotland Wales and Northern Ireland is asymmetrical The devolution Acts provide the appropriate degree and form of devolution for the UK's nations Devolved powers are decisions that are taken by separate bodies but were previously controlled by Westminster This could include matters such as education and health Reserved powers are decisions that remain in the hands of the Parliament in Westminster 



This includes the UK defence and foreign policy David Cameron outlined in his speech in Edinburgh that devolution gives people choice and real say on their own affairs On the other hand it can be argued that there is little devolution in England because Scottish Welsh and Northern Irish MPs can vote on laws that only apply in England however English MPs were not allowed to vote on a number of devolved policy areas This could sway controversial votes in Westminster by Scottish Welsh and Northern Irish MPs This is known as the West Lothian Question Great Britain is a constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy In Hilaire Barnett s Constitutional and Administrative Law Twelfth Edition it is stated that the prerogative historically and contemporary concerns the power of the crown Therefore under the state's constitutional monarchy the Queen is part of the legislature Dicey on The Law of the Constitution defines prerogative powers as the residue of discretionary or arbitrary authority which at any time is legally left on the hands of the crown However a more recent definition by Supreme Court Judges states that the prerogative encompasses the residue of powers which remain vested in the Crown and they are exercisable by ministers provided that the exercise is consistent with parliamentary legislation An example of this can be seen in the case of R v Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union where the Supreme Court held that under the prerogative notice could not be given under article 50 It was also stated that the United Kingdom s constitutional arrangements need the authority of an Act of Parliament before triggering Article 50 This clearly shows that prerogative powers cannot be used to defeat the objective of a constitutional Act


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