The United Kingdom is the oldest democratic system in the modern world. It is called the “Mother Democracy and Mother of Parliamentary System”. In this article we are going to explain Salient Features of UK constitution. The British constitution is uncodified and unwritten constitution, its mean that it is not found in a single written document like the United States Constitution. Some of its key and important features of British constitution are as flows.
Salient Features of UK constitution
The United Kingdom is a constitutional unitary state consisting of four states:
- Northern Ireland
The United Kingdom is governed by a parliamentary system with its seat, the capital with three devolved administrations in Belfast, Cardiff and Edinburgh, the capitals of Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland respectively.
The UK constitution is Unwritten it is also known as uncodified constitution. It is a type of constitution that is not written in a single written document. Even it is based on a collection of various sources such as historical, statutes, conventions, judicial decisions, and precedents. The UK is only one and unique example of a country with an uncodified constitution.
A Specimen of Development and Continuity
A powerful specimen of development and continuity can be found in the evolution of constitutional principles and practices within the UK unwritten constitution. How this specimen manifests:
- Historical Evolution
- Adaptation to Changing Times
- Political and Social Changes
- Role of Conventions
Oldest and Flexible Constitution
- UK constitution is the oldest constitution in the world.
- United Kingdom constitution is also very flexible because it can be passed, amended and replaced by a simple majority of parliament since no distinction is made between constitutional law and ordinary law.
- The British constitution is unitary because all powers of the government are vested in parliament as opposed to the federal system.
- There is only one legislature while England, Scotland, Wales etc. are administrative units rather than politically autonomous units.
- UK has parliamentary form of government while King is merely a titular head of the country.
- The real functions are performed by the representative ministers who belong to the majority party in the parliament.
- The king can summon them but they in actual practice parliament summon them. The king cannot retain them in office at his pleasure. It is the pleasure of the parliament that can keep a minister in the saddle.
Sovereignty of Parliament
This principle asserts that Parliament is the supreme legal authority. No other authority can overrule or challenge decisions of Parliament.
Rule of Law
Rules of Law is also an important Salient Features of UK constitution it includes.
- All persons are equal according to law of their position or rank.
- It implies equality of all before the law, its supremacy, uniformity and universality.
- No one can be imprisoned without proper trial.
- The supremacy of the law and not of any individual.
Gap between Theory and Practice
- There is a great gap between theory and practice that has derived from the unwritten character of the constitution.
- In theory, Queen or King is the fountainhead of patronage but in practice, all honors are conferred by the PM.
- In theory, King or Queen is sovereign but in practice, parliament is so.
- In theory, the king or Queen can veto a bill but in practice, no King or Queen can veto the bills passed by parliament.
- British Constitution is a mixture of aristocracy, monarchy, and democracy.
- The institution of the king shows monarchy, the existence of the House of Lords shows aristocracy and The House of Commons is popular which shows democracy.
- Essentials of a valid custom in jurisprudence
- Salient features of the British Constitution
- Custom as a Source of Law in jurisprudence
- Difference between law and morality in Jurisprudence