June 2010 The British Constitution
Study the following passage and answer the questions that follow.
A Possible Codified Constitution for the UK
Jack Straw, the Justice Secretary, has used a visit to Washington to hint that Britain could finally get a codified constitution spelling out citizens’ rights and codifying this country’s political system. He is already working on a new Bill of Rights and Responsibilities, clearly defining people’s relationship to the state, as part of a wide-ranging package of constitutional reform. But he has, for the first time, also said that the Bill could be a step towards a fully codified constitution to ‘bring us in line with the most progressive democracies around the world’.
Britain’s constitution has developed in a haphazard fashion, building on common law, conventions, case law, historical documents, Acts of Parliament and European legislation. It is not set out clearly in any one document. Nor is there a single statement of citizens’ rights and freedoms. As Jack Straw put it yesterday: ‘Most people might struggle to put their finger on where their rights are’.
Supporters argue that producing such a document could tackle disillusionment with politics, at the same time as setting new, clear limits on the power of the executive. Opponents of a codified constitution argue, ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,’ insisting 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.
Source: adapted from an article by Nigel Morris in The Independent, 14 February 2008
a) With reference to the source, describe three sources of the UK constitution. (5 Marks)
b)With reference to the source, and your own knowledge, explain the arguments in favour of a codified constitution for the UK. (10 Marks)
c) Make out a case against the adoption of a codified constitution for the UK. (25 Marks)
Essays on Constitutional Reform – June 2009
Constitutional reform since 1997 has not gone far enough.’ Discuss. (40 Marks)
January 2010 – The advantages of a codified constitution now outweigh its disadvantages’. Discuss. (40 Marks)
January 2011 – The UK constitution is no longer fit for purpose.’ Discuss. (40 Marks)
To what extent has the location of sovereignty in the UK changed in recent years? (40 Marks)
To what extent have constitutional reforms since 1997 reduced the powers of UK governments? (40 Marks)
a) With reference to the source outline two constitutional reforms proposed by David Miliband. (5 Marks)
b) With reference to the source and your own knowledge, explain the arguments in favour of introducing a codified constitution. (10 Marks)
c) To what extent have the coalition government’s proposals to reform the UK constitution been controversial? (25 Marks)
To what extent have the constitutional reforms introduced since 1997 made the UK more democratic? (40 Marks)
‘Arguments in favour of further constitutional reform are more convincing than those against.’ Discuss. (40 marks)