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Statutory Orders (Special Procedure) Act Tribunals and Inquiries Act 1992
1945...............................................254 ...................................................504“5
lii Table of Statutes


Tribunals and Inquiries Act 1992 (cont.) Vaccine Damage Payments Act 1979
s 10 ....................................................721 .......................................................552
s 11 ................................................721“2
Sch 1 ..........................................721, 722 War Crimes Act 1991......................46, 643
Triennial Act 1694 ............................157“8 War Damage Act 1965
s 1 ........................................................87
Union with England Act 1707 ......41, 139, s 2 ........................................................84
140, 195 Water Act 1973
art 1 ...........................................196, 197 s 30 ............................................656, 657
art 18 .................................198, 199, 200 Water Act 2003
art 19 .................................................198 s 34(1) ...............................................354
art 22 .................................................201 Weights and Measures Act 1985
Union with Ireland Act 1800 ......139, 228, ...............................................143, 333
229 Welsh Church Act 1914..................71, 643
Union with Scotland Act 1706 ......41, 139, Welsh Language Act 1993.....................220
143, 202 Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981
art 1 ...........................................196, 197 s 53 ....................................................695
art 18 .................................................198 Sch 15................................................695
art 19 .................................................198 para 12 ..........................................695
art 22 .................................................201 para 12(3) .....................................696
Universities (Scotland) Act 1853 .........196
Universities (Scotland) Act 1932 .........196 Zimbabwe Act 1979
Unsolicited Goods and Services Act 1971 s 1(2) ...................................................49
.......................................................552
Table of European Treaties




EC Treaty (Treaty of Rome) (cont.)
EC Treaty (Treaty of Rome).................281
art 226 ...............288, 289, 296, 328, 335
art 2 ...................................................282
art 227 ...............................................296
art 3 ...............................................282“3
art 228 .......................................296, 335
art 5 ...................................283, 284, 285
art 230 ...................................295, 296“7
art 7 ...................................................286
art 232 ...............................................296
art 10 .........................283, 284, 285, 313
art 234 ...296, 297“8, 309, 310, 326, 328
art 12 .................................................285
art 247 ...............................................301
art 13 .................................................285
art 248 ...............................................301
arts 17“22..........................................281
art 249 ...............................301, 313, 336
art 23 .................................................281
art 251 ...............................................304
art 25 .........................................308, 309
art 263 ...............................................301
art 28 .................................................340
art 264 ...............................................301
arts 32“8............................................281
art 265 ...............................................301
art 39 .................................................281
art 272 ...............................................295
art 43 .................................................330
art 49 .................................................281
Single European Act (1986) ........280, 293,
art 56 .................................................281
316
arts 81“9............................................281
art 88 .................................................288
Treaty on European Union (Maastricht
art 94 .................................................302
Treaty) (1993)...................280“1, 316
art 106 ...............................................301
art 2 ...................................................285
art 141 ...................281, 288, 322“6, 337
art 4 ...................................................293
art 177 ...............................................326
art 6 ...............................................285“6
art 191 ...............................................294
arts 12“16..........................................303
art 193 ...............................................294
art 34 .........................................279, 303
art 195 ...............................................301
art 44(2) ............................................285
art 201 ...............................................294
art 202 ...............................................287
Amsterdam Treaty (1997) ....280, 281, 316
art 207 ...............................................292
art 211 ...............................................287
art 213 ...........................................286“7 Nice Treaty (2001) ........280, 281, 285, 316
art 214 .......................................287, 294
art 220 ...............................................296 European Convention on Human Rights
art 222 ...............................................295 1950
art 223 ...............................................295 art 1 ...................................................740
art 224 ...............................................295 art 2 ...........................740, 744, 746, 795
liv Table of European Treaties


European Convention on Human Rights art 8(2) ......................................753, 793
1950 (cont.) art 9 ...................................677, 742, 745
art 2(2) ..............................................744 art 10 ........277, 509, 671, 677, 742, 745,
art 3 ..141, 740, 744, 746, 747, 749, 750, 753, 754, 756, 779, 780, 782, 786,
752, 762, 763, 795 787, 789, 793, 805, 808“9, 815“16
art 4 ...................................................740 art 10(1) ............................................783
art 4(1) ..............................................744 art 10(2) ....785, 791, 792, 793, 795, 807
art 5 ..........277, 740, 753, 756, 762, 763, art 11 ............677, 743, 745, 756, 808“9,
764, 768, 769, 770, 810 811, 815“16
art 5(1) ..........................7, 108, 744, 805 art 11(2) ............745, 807, 811, 813, 815
art 5(3) ..............................................268 art 12 .................................................743
art 5(4) ..............................................108 art 13 .................................674, 675, 677
art 6 ........120, 125, 274, 683“4, 714“15, art 14 ..........64, 277, 743, 745, 762, 764,
741, 744, 753, 771 768
art 6(1) .......107, 109, 110, 111, 116“17, art 34 .................................................752
120, 148, 211, 268, 276, 354, 683, Protocol 1
721 art 1 .......................................274, 743
art 7 .....................................99, 742, 744 art 2 .......................................208, 743
art 7(2) ..............................................744 art 3 ...............................................743
art 8 ..........64, 81, 676“7, 691, 742, 745, Protocol 11........................................265
753, 754, 756, 793, 795, 805 Protocol 13 art 1 ...............................744
art 8(1) ......................................268, 753 Protocol 14................................265, 266
Part I
Constitution, state and beyond
1

The British constitutional order




Contents
1 Nature of the British constitution
(a) Fundamentals and fluidity
(b) Constitutional safeguards
2 The constitution and the state
3 Constitutional law beyond the state
4 Constitutional reform
(a) No overall agenda? The coherence of constitutional reform
(b) Constitutional continuity
(c) Fate and future of constitutional reform
(d) A written constitution?



1 Nature of the British constitution
Almost every country in the world has a written constitution which is a
declaration of the country™s supreme law. All other laws and all the institutions
of such a state are subordinate to the written constitution, which is intended to
be an enduring statement of fundamental principles. The absence of this kind
of supreme instrument in the governmental system of the United Kingdom
often perplexes the foreign inquirer, who may wonder where our constitution
is to be found, and indeed whether we have one at all.
What, then, do we mean when we speak of the British constitution? Plainly
there exists a body of rules that govern the political system, the exercise of public
authority, the relations between the citizen and the state. The fact that the main
rules of these kinds are not set out in a single, formal document does make for
some di¬culty in describing our constitution, although even in a country with
a written constitution we soon discover that not all the arrangements for its
government are to be found there: many elements of the constitution will
have to be looked for elsewhere than in the primary document labelled ˜the
Constitution™. (The formal constitution may even be misleading, for we
are warned by a Frenchman, L©on Duguit, that ˜the facts are stronger than
4 British Government and the Constitution


constitutions™, and by an American, Roscoe Pound, that the ˜law in books™ is not
necessarily the same as the ˜law in action™.) But at all events a written constitu-
tion is a place where a start can be made. Lacking this, how do we set about
describing the British constitution?
We might begin in a speci¬c way by taking note of particular rules and prac-
tices that are observed in the working of the political system “ for example, the
rule that a Parliament can continue for no more than ¬ve years before dissolu-
tion (Parliament Act 1911, section 7), or the practice by which ministers of the
Crown answer Questions in the House of Commons. Rules and practices such
as these, relating to the government of the country, are of great number and
variety: if it were possible to make a complete statement of them, that could no
doubt be presented as a formal description of the British constitution. (It would
include much that elsewhere would be put into a written constitution and much
more that would be left out.) We should then have the material for a de¬nition
of the British constitution, which might run something like this:

a body of rules, conventions and practices which describe, regulate or qualify the organisa-
tion, powers and operation of government and the relations between persons and public
authorities.

But such a de¬nition, even if formally adequate, would fail to reveal some
important features of the constitution.
Shifting our point of view slightly, we might think next of the institutions and
o¬ces which constitute the machinery of British government. An institutional
description of the constitution would include Parliament, the government and
the courts, the monarchy and the civil service, devolved assemblies and admin-
istrations in Scotland, Wales and (subject to circumstances) Northern Ireland,
and such o¬ces as those of the Parliamentary Ombudsman, the Comptroller
and Auditor General, and the Director of Public Prosecutions. Of course these
institutions and o¬ces are themselves to be explained by reference to rules and
practices which constitute them or de¬ne their powers and activity. But we do
not think of them simply as bundles of rules. Rather, they have what might be
described as their own reality and momentum “ often loaded with history and
tradition “ in what is sometimes called ˜the living constitution™.
Re¬‚ecting further on the constitution, there would come to mind certain
ideas, doctrines or organising principles which have in¬‚uenced or inspired the
rules and practices of the constitution, or which express essential features of our
institutions of government or of relations between them. There can be no true
understanding of the British constitution without an appreciation of the role
within it of such commanding principles as those of democracy, parliamentary
sovereignty, the rule of law, the separation of powers and ministerial responsi-
bility (on each of which, see chapter 2).
We also have to think of the ways these various institutions and ideas are now
required to operate in the context of globalisation and of the rise to prominence
5 The British constitutional order


of international and supranational organisations such as the Council of Europe,
with its in¬‚uential European Convention on Human Rights, and the European
Union, with its vast and continually growing body of Community law (on both
of which, see chapter 5).
Until now we have spoken rather loosely of ˜rules and practices™ of the con-
stitution, and we need to be more de¬nite. The legal rules that make up part of
the constitution are either statutory rules or rules of common law. Many of the
more important practices of the constitution also have the character of rules
and, like legal rules, may give rise to obligations and entitlements. These non-
legal rules are called conventions. (The nature of conventions and their relation
to law is one of the fundamental problems of the constitution, and is more fully
explored in chapter 3.)
As already indicated, the attempt might be made to enumerate all the rules
relating to the system of government in a comprehensive statement of the con-
tents of the British constitution (although it would not remain up to date for
long). A problem that would arise in doing this would be that of deciding
whether rules were su¬ciently connected with the machinery of government to
count as part of the constitution. Should the statement include the rules and
practices relating to the control of immigration, or the organisation of the
armed forces, or the administration of social security? This sort of question
would have to be answered rather arbitrarily, for there are no natural bound-
aries of the system of government or of the constitution. As S Finer, V Bogdanor
and B Rudden have commented (Comparing Constitutions (1995), p 40) the
British constitution is ˜indeterminate, indistinct and unentrenched™. Moreover,
much of it would remain so even if it were codi¬ed.
Unsurprisingly, no comprehensive list or statement of the kind under con-
sideration has been attempted, but Albert Blaustein and Gisbert Flanz (eds),
Constitutions of the Countries of the World, present us with a list of constitutional
statutes of the United Kingdom (in 1992) which names over 300 statutes,
ranging from Magna Carta 1215 and the Bill of Rights 1689 to more recent
statutes such as the Parliament Acts 1911 and 1949, the Crown Proceedings Act
1947, the Parliamentary Commissioner Act 1967, the European Communities
Act 1972, the Race Relations Act 1976 and the British Nationality Act 1981. The
2006 edition of Blackstone™s Statutes in Public Law and Human Rights includes
extracts from 120 statutes, of which 74 were passed within the last twenty years.
Whether this is a reliable indication of how much the British constitution has
changed in recent times is a matter we shall consider later in this chapter.
A comprehensive list of constitutional rules would not tell us what is distinc-
tive in the British constitution or what is of especial value. For the constitution
is not mere machinery for the exercise of public power, but establishes an order
by which public power is itself to be constrained. Some constitutional rules
express social or political values that are thought important to preserve, or
that help to maintain a balance between di¬erent institutions of government,
or safeguard minorities or protect individual rights. These rules, we may say,
6 British Government and the Constitution


have ˜something fundamental™ about them, and are distinguishable from much
that is circumstantial, temporary, simply convenient or merely mechanical in
the constitution.
This distinction, however, is not straightforward. There is often disagreement
about what is vital in the constitution and what is inessential. It is easy to fall
into a very conservative way of regarding the constitution and to categorise
what is old and traditional in our rules and practices as necessarily to be
cherished and preserved, although no longer conformable to a changed society,
a transformed public consciousness and new conceptions of justice and moral-
ity. There is a contrary tendency to view the whole constitution in an instru-
mental way, holding all its rules to be equally malleable or dispensable in the

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