Law 1017M Constitutional and Administrative Law 1596860
Word Count: 2440
James Bryce proposed that, “[c]onstitutions are the expression of national character”.[footnoteRef:1] This raises the question as to why the United Kingdom (UK) is yet to produce a written and codified constitution? This essay shall substantiate its argument surrounding four points, including; the development of the constitution in the UK, parliamentary supremacy and the role of conventions, whilst evaluating whether it would be beneficial to adopt a written constitution. It would be unnecessary to adopt a written constitution at this stage, as the role of the UK Parliament is proficient as a regulatory body. The reasoning behind this position will become evident as the paper develops. [1: James Bryce, Constitutions (Oxford University Press 1905) p4. ]
As explained by Frederick F. Ridley, “[a] country’s constitution is a body of rules – some laws, some conventions – which regulate its system of government”.[footnoteRef:2] Suggesting that the UK Constitution is governed by laws and conventions, whether these are written or not. With regard to the current state of the UK Constitution, many believe that our dispersed constitution is anachronistic, this opinion was developed within the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee’s “Consultation on A new Magna Carta”.[footnoteRef:3] The UK is currently in a situation where “we are not concerned with a solid building, to a room which may be added here, or a wing there; but a living organism, in a condition of perpetual growth and change, of development and decay.”[footnoteRef:4] The UK does have a written constitution – just not written in a single coherent document. Eric Barendt agrees with this statement as he suggests that UK Constitutional law is a hotchpotch of statues, case law and miscellaneous rules which are made intelligible by reference to a number of conventions of uncertain scope and inconsistent application.[footnoteRef:5] As our dispersed constitution consists of an accumulation of political practice over time. This is demonstrated in Bogdanor’s quote, ‘they’re a product of a long period of history’. [2: F. F. Ridley, ‘There is no British Constitution: A Dangerous Case of the Emperor’s Clothes’ (1988) 41(3) Parl. Aff. 340.] [3: Political and Constitutional Reform Committee, ‘Consultation on A New Magna Carta?’ (Parliament UK, 3 March 2015) accessed 16 November 2017.] [4: Sidney Low, The Governance of England (London T. Fisher Unwin 1904) p2. ] [5: Eric Barendt, ‘Is there a United Kingdom Constitution?’ (1997) 17(1) O.J.L.S. 137. ]
There is often misunderstanding by academics surrounding the difference between unwritten and uncodified, as there is a distinct differentiation yet they are often placed under the same category. The British Constitution is unwritten in the sense that it is not set out in a single, consolidated...