Important constitutional principles

Subject: Political
Type: Profile Essay
Pages: 6
Word count: 1742
Topics: Constitution, Justice


Specifically, the constitution is a legal document or system of legal acts in which the most important legal provisions constituting the subject of constitutional regulation are adopted in accordance with a special procedure. In the United Kingdom, there is no constitution in this particular sense, and the constitution operates in the abstract meaning of this concept. The British Constitution is unified for the United Kingdom of England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland and it is unwritten. The absence of a single written text allows to talk about the three components of the British Constitution: Statute Law (Statute Law); Common Law; Constitutional conventions. Accordingly, the sources of constitutional norms are statutes, judicial precedents, and constitutional agreements. The works of authoritative lawyers imposed the general influence on the formation of these sources. The Constitution of Great Britain is a “flexible” constitution, since English law does not distinguish between “constitutional” and “current” law. There is a general procedure for the adoption of parliamentary laws that cannot be reviewed by courts or declared unconstitutional. Some scholars consider the sovereignty of the parliament and the plurality of sources of laws in the UK to be the important principles in the British constitution. The given work will prove that the United Kingdom, the value of liberty, checks, and balances are equally important principles, but sovereignty of the parliament is a fundamental one.

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The principle of Parliamentary sovereignty

The sovereignty of parliament is ensured by its right to enact any laws at its discretion, and the enactment of these laws cannot be challenged by any other state body (including the court and local self-government bodies). This concept underlies the UK system of government. Initially, the doctrine was created to assert the superiority of parliament over the monarchy.

The importance given to the sovereignty of parliament is clearly illustrated by the nature of the application of the 1998 Human Rights Act, which incorporates the provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights into the UK legal system in the form of a bill of rights. The guarantees contained in the Bill of Rights, according to the authors, should be ensured by any legislative acts, which the Parliament will subsequently have to pass. In some countries (for example, in Canada), human rights law empowers the courts to challenge any laws which contradict its basic principles. In the UK, where such actions would violate the sovereignty of the parliament, the courts do not have such a right.


According to the 1998 law, judges have the right to declare a law passed by the Parliament inappropriate to the convention. Although it is presumed that the court statements of this kind should encourage the government and parliament to bring the legislation so contested in this way into line with the human rights convention, nothing prevents these two bodies from leaving the court decision without attention. Another aspect of the sovereignty of parliament is the inability for one parliament to impose any restrictions on the actions of its successors. Any law passed by one parliament may be subsequently amended or repealed by another parliament.

The principle of Unitarianism

Constitution establishes and consolidates the form of state structure – ‘Unitarianism’or federation, although in the text of the basic law there may be no direct prescriptions about it (France, Japan). In this case, it is supposed that the very silence about the form of the state structure is a statement of ‘Unitarianism’ as the most common method of national-political organization of the country’s territory. The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is a unitary state consisting of England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. Historically, the unification of these territories occurred at different times and under unequal circumstances, which determined the characteristics of their social and political life. To varying degrees, but also in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, some of the indigenous peoples favor self-reliance in these regions: self-government in Wales and Scotland and independence from the UK in Northern Ireland. The attitude of the central government toward these sentiments (with all the peculiarities of the conservative and labourist approach) is expressed in the pursuit of a reform policy aimed at finding optimal forms of governance combining a centralized and decentralized beginning, while preserving the democratic and legal traditions of the life of a single state.

The principle of liberty

The Constitution of Great Britain does not provide for a clear legal separation of constitutional and other norms, thus, rights, freedoms and duties of an individual are not divided. In this country, it is normal to use in different legal proceedings not the existing and acting laws, but judicial precedents and the centuries-old constitutional customs. According to the established centuries-old tradition in this country, citizens can do everything that is not prohibited by the constitution and can be explained by their adherence to the traditions of their ancestors.

The Constitution also defines the guarantees and basic social and economic rights of the citizens, but it is interesting that they are clearly defined. The rights exist as a matter of course, and the constitution state only about the possibilities of their legitimate use and the subsequent rights and guarantees. These mandatory rights are unemployment benefits, free schooling, the right to strike, the right to receive wages, as well as pension services, state medicine, etc.

Even political rights in the UK are regulated mainly by the established customs. Like all of the above, political rights are also considered as naturally existing. The constitution describes possible options for their lawful use (for example, notification or permission of the police to conduct demonstrations, the right of the police to prohibit rallies in the areas for a specific period on the basis of possible unrest, etc.).

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The system of checks and balances

The system of checks and balances makes it necessary to search for compromise and agreement. Compromise is vitally important at all the levels of government in the UK, because it protects them from certain extremes. This, for example, means that monarch cannot radically change the government’s policy as desired. Consequently, UK citizens usually call the “government” the system as a whole that is the queen, the parliament, and the courts. This principle prescribes that monarch cannot have an absolute power. “As the executive power of the laws is lodged in a single person, they have all the advantages of strength and dispatch that are to be found in the most absolute 12 monarchy: and as the legislature of the kingdom is entrusted to three distinct powers, entirely independent of each other; first, the king; secondly the lords spiritual and temporal which is an aristocratical assembly of persons selected for their piety, their birth, their wisdom, their valour and their property; and thirdly the house of commons, freely chosen by the people from among themselves, which makes it a kind of democracy; as this aggregated body, actuated by different springs and attentive to different interests, composes the British parliament”.

With the system of checks and balances, a compromise in politics is a matter of necessity, not choice. For example, the House of Commons of the Parliament controls budget expenditures. The Constitutional Convention states that no royal prerogative can be created without the participation of the court. However, this does not mean that the parliament can independently create or prohibit such. Indeed, somewhat smaller, but still significant, powers have been added in recent years, although many argue that they are simply augmenting existing powers, rather than individual additions.

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The most important principle

The actual unwritten part of the British Constitution includes constitutional agreements, which are not legally fixed, but regulate, as a rule, the most important issues of state life. These agreements, or the customary law system, are considered in the UK as the basis of constitutional law. The custom represents the rules, which have been developed in practice and do not enjoy judicial protection. For example, royal prerogatives form the part of customary law. They include the rules governing the appointment of ministers, the collective responsibility of the Cabinet of Ministers, the dissolution of parliament, the conclusion of international treaties, the declaration of war, etc. On practice, these prerogatives are carried out by the monarch upon the approval of the government in power. Parliament Sovereignty is the fundamental principle of British constitutional law and it is a principle of customary law. It was repeatedly recognized by the courts; In particular, in 1840, the court confirmed the right of the parliament to judge its members for violating their rights and privileges, in 1884 the court confirmed the full right of the parliament to dispose of its internal affairs.

Historically, the constitutional agreements have different origins. They arise due to circumstances as a result of the inter-party struggle; the slow evolution of existing practice and its adaptation to changing conditions also play the role. No one can compel to follow the constitutional custom; there is no special body for this. The Parliament, as the theoretical custodian of sovereignty, at any time can propose a new rule by repealing or abolishing the previous custom. There is no exact list of constitutional agreements. Practically, they operate in all the elements of the British political system.

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The historical features of the development of the state determined the non-standard nature of the British constitution. The UK does not know a one-time act as a constitution. The features of the constitution refer to the form, but do not concern its content or essence. In form, the British constitution has a combined, unsystematic character; it consists of two parts – written and unwritten. This is the nature of all branches of English law. Therefore, the constitutional legislation does not seem very clear and definite.

The features of the British Constitution are explained by the conditions of the country’s political development. It was formed under the influence of the struggle between the bourgeoisie, which was represented by the parliament (more precisely, its lower House of Commons), and by the nobility, whose interests were expressed by the monarch. After the bourgeoisie comes to power, the political struggle of the working class for its rights and interests is reflected in the constitution. The Constitution of Great Britain contains a number of concessions to the demands of the working people. The role of the Parliament is the first and the utmost, and it is very important for it to be independent. Thus, the conclusion can be made that parliamentary supremacy is the fundamental principle in the British Constitution.

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