A constitution is a set of rules that: seek to establish the duties, powers and functions of the various institutions of government; regulate the relationship between and among the institutions; and define the relationship between the state and the individual. There are many different types of constitution. Constitutions can be codified or uncodified, unitary or federal and seen as rigid or flexible. The most common way of comparing classifying constitutions is codified or uncodified. The UK is an example of an uncodified constitution whereas the U.S.A is an example of a codified constitution. This essay will show that the UK should not adopt a codified constitution.
A codified constitution is a constitution in which key constitutional provisions are collected within a single document, it is commonly known as a written constitution. Codified constitutions have three key features. Ina codified constitution the document itself is authoritative in the sense that it constitutes ‘higher’ law. The constitution binds all political institutions, including those that make ordinary law. The provisions of the constitution are also said to be entrenched. This means that they are difficult to amend or abolish. As a codified constitution sets out the duties, powers and functions of government institutions in terms of ‘higher law’ it is judiciable. The other type of constitution is an uncodified constitution. An uncodified constitution is a constitution that is made up of rules that are found in a variety of sources, in the absence of a single legal document or written constitution. Unlike codified constitutions, the constitution is not authoritative. Constitutional laws enjoy the same status as ordinary laws. Uncodified constitutions are also not entrenched. The constitution can be changed through the normal processes for enacting statute law. Finally, uncodified constitutions are not judiciable. In the absence of higher law, judges do not have a legal standard against which they can declare that the actions of other bodies are considered constitutional or unconstitutional.
On the one hand there are many arguments supporting the view that the UK should adopt a codified constitution. If a codified constitution was introduced it would significantly affect: the power of government; the relationship between the executive and Parliament; multilevel governance; relationship between judges and politicians and individual rights and freedoms.One argument is that a codified constitution would make rules clearer. Key constitutional rules are collected together in a single document, they are more clearly defined than in an ‘unwritten’ constitution where rules are spread across many different documents. A codified constitution would create less confusion about the meaning of constitutional rules and greater certainty that they can be enforced.
A second argument supporting a codified constitution is limited government. A codified constitution would cut government down to...