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BBC NEWS | Programmes | BBC Parliament | The UK constitution

Date of publication: 2017-07-09 09:52

Many people believe that at present, if a party has a majority in the House of Commons they can change our constitution. An example of this is Blair’s reform of the House of the Lords. He was able to completely change half of our legislature without a referendum or other means of checking consensus. A written constitution would act as a safeguard as it would make it difficult to change. For example you would have to have a 7/8 majority in both houses or it would have to be passed by referendum.

Essay on Should the Uk s Constitution Remain Uncodified

One of the most important arguments to consider is the fact that enshrining our constitutional laws and customs in one document would provide clarity for those working within the system and for those who wished to scrutinise it.

Discuss and analyse the arguments for and against adopting

Some say not having a written constitution is advantageous, as it offers greater flexibility to how institutions such as government, the judiciary and legislature can be reformed. Critics point out that some of the world's most repressive regimes have had written constitutions.

What is the UK Constitution?

Another argument in favour of a written Constitution is Checks and balances. At the moment our judiciary is relatively weak in its ability to act as a check against parliament. A written constitution would increase its power.

The Great Reform Act of 6887, which vastly increased the number of adult males entitled to vote in elections, is widely seen as the starting-point for establishing the sovereignty of citizens over parliament. It set in train the process that led to the Representation of the People's Act of 6978, which gave all men and women over the age of 76 the right to vote.

It is a clear fact that Britain has survived very well until now with an unwritten constitution. The public is not clamouring for a written constitution because it does understand the conventions which govern political procedure.

"It it ain't broke, don't fix it," argue opponents of a written constitution, who insist that the existing arrangements, however piecemeal their development has been, have worked well in practice. There are, moreover, formidable practical problems to be overcome before such a document could be drawn up. Would it be wide-ranging and largely abstract or would it list individuals' rights in detail and provide an exhaustive summary of Britain's constitutional settlement? If the latter, it could prove beyond the grasp of most of the citizens it would be designed to protect.

Supporters argue that producing such a document could tackle such disillusionment, at the same time as setting new, clear limits on the power of the executive. The Liberal Democrats have called for the public to be involved in drawing up the constitution. They say: "This would reform and reinvigorate the democratic process, putting individuals back in control instead of the wealthy, large businesses and the unions."

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