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The UK constitution

Unit 2: Governing the UK AS Goverment and Politics
by

David Rawlings

on 22 September 2015

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Transcript of The UK constitution

What is the role of a constitution?
1215 - Magna Carta
1628 - Petition of Rights
1689 - Bill of Rights
1707 - Acts of Union
"The Tories hate health and safety... because sickness and death are the twin pillars of their ideology I think."
Jeremy Hardy
Debate
YES
NO
‘The UK should leave the European Union.’
THINK / PAIR / SHARE
Challenge ........?
a. It is very difficult to change.

b. It comes from a number of sources, not one written document.

c. It is written down in a single document.
The UK constitution is uncodified which means...
a. The principle that ultimate power for law-making resides in the national parliament and is not shared with any other body.

b. The principle that the Queen has ultimate power or sovereignty over parliament in the UK.

c. The principle that law-making is shared between parliament, the House of Lords and the monarch in the United Kingdom.
What is 'Parliamentary Sovereignty'?
a. The principle that there a select number of laws are more important than others.

b. A system whereby parliament are the key law-making body in the land.

c. The notion that all are equal under the law, entitled to a fair trial if accused of a crime and the government itself is also subject to all laws.
What is the 'rule of law'?
3 questions
only one winner
"Government without a constitution is power without right."
Thomas Paine, The Rights of Man, 1795
French Liberty / Britsh Slavery - an 18th century cartoon
Sources of the UK constitution
Statute law
Common law
Royal prerogative
Conventions
Works of authority
Treaties and laws of the European Union
USA
I am the President of the USA.
I want to bring in a law banning guns.
However
I propose my new law to Congress (House of Representatives) and they so yes, ok then.
The Supreme Court deem this law to be
'Unconstitutional'

and so prevent my law from being introduced.
Guns are still ok.
UK
I am PM of the UK.
I have won through FPTP.
I have a majority on Parliament.
I want to ban Tories.
This is called an
Act of Parliament
.
The bill passes through Westminster legislation.
It goes to the Lords who make their amendments.
The Lords are predominantly my party peers.
They decide that only Tories under the age of 45 can be banned, as old fusty Tories are quite funny.
The bil is signed by the Queen and becomes satutory law.
How does the UK constitution function?
K: What we mean by Parliamentary Sovereignty.
U: Functions of Parliamentary Sovereignty.
S: AO1 Knowledge.
What are the problems with Parliamentary Sovereignty? [5 marks]
To what extent has devolution affected Parliamentary Sovereignty? [10 marks]
No higher authority!
1. Mass electorate
2. Party system
3. Referendums
4. Extra-parliamentary pressure
5. International treaties
6. EU
7. Devolution
8. 1998 Human Rights Act
Explain each of the
8 limits
on Parliamentary Sovereignty.
Should the UK have a codified constitution?
What are the functions of a constitution?

D
E
R
P
Parliamentary Sovereignty
So, what do we mean by parliamentary sovereignty?
Task:
Common questions
Parliament should reassert its sovereignty.
Daily Telegraph, 2011
YES
NO
What is a Constitution?
Lesson One
Lesson Three
Lesson Two
Lesson Four
Source-based Questions
To understand the role and purpose of a constitution.
C: Describe roles of a constitution.
B: Explain roles in detail, with reference to purpose.
A: Evaluate and compare the significance of roles and purposes.
To understand the features of the UK constitution.
C: Describe features of the UK constitution.
B: Explain features in detail, with reference to key terms.
A: Compare and evaluate the significance of features.
To explain the sources of the UK constitution.
C: Describe the sources of the Uk consitution.
B: Explain how and why the constitution is drawn from these sources.
A: Evaluate the significance of having a range of sources.
To understand source-based 'Governing the UK' questions.
C: 5 mark source questions.
B: 10 mark source questions.
A: 25 mark source questions.
The second amendment to the US constitution gives citizens the 'right to bear arms'.
What is a constitution?
Constitution
Definition:
"A set of rules, processes and principles describing the political institutions of a state, the distribution of power among the institutions, the rights of citizens and the limits to the powers of the state."
TASK:
What should a constitution include?

e.g. 'how laws are made and enforced'
Law (rule of)- how made and enforced
Amendments - how to
Institutions of state - parliament, etc.
Rights and duties of citizens
Geographical make up
Distribution of power - what can parliament do?
External relationships - EU, UN
DE GRAIL
Functions of a constitution
Which is most important?
‘All are equal in UK law.’
YES
NO
Homework:

Flipped Learning:
Video – Features of the UK constitution
(on edmodo)
‘Down with the monarchy.’
NO
YES
The 'rule of law' is the most important feature of the UK constitution. Do you agree?
Task:
In pairs make a case for and against the statement.
Use your FL notes and textbook p.6-8 to help you.
Which is key...?
Uncodified
Unentrenched
Unitary
Parliamentary sovereignty
No separation of powers
Constitutional monarchy
Strong executive
Rule of law
Sources of the UK Constitution
TASK

Sort your sources of the UK constitution into:
Parliamentary statutes
Conventions
Authoritative documents & books
Common law
EU treaties
Traditions
Homework:
Flipped learning video - Codified vs. Uncodified
Link on edmodo
Reasons for and against a codified constitution.
C: Describe reasons for and against codification.
B: Explain reasons in detail, with reference to examples.
A: Compare reasons and judge whether we should codify our constitution.
To prepare specific roles for a whole-class debate.
Challenge .......?
1. Can you explain the functions of a constitution? (DE GRAIL)

2. Name 3 sources of the UK constitution.

3. What is the difference between codified and uncodified constitutions?
"It has been suggested that the British Constitution can be summed up in eight words:
What the Queen in Parliament enacts is law.

This means that Parliament, using the power of the Crown, enacts law which no other body can challenge."

www.constitution-unit.com
This House agrees with Richard Gordon that "In a democratic society we need a written constitution."
Debate
For
Against
Notice that the speaker sets out his three arguments and then explains each in turn.
This is good debate technique!
Does the UK have a constitution?
Tasks:
Debate
This House believes the UK needs a codified constitution.
How to debate...
1. Proposition: opening & first argument
- 3 mins
2. Opposition: opening & first argument
- 3 mins
3. Proposition: rebuttals + 2nd & 3rd arguments
- 5 mins
4. Opposition: rebuttals + 2nd & 3rd arguments
- 5 mins
5. Opposition: summation, including rebuttals
- 3 mins
6. Proposition: summation, including rebuttals
- 3 mins
7. Open debate
British Parliamentary Rules
1. Decide 3 key arguments that you want to make as a group.
2. Assign roles - Opening statement, including 1 argument; rebuttals, including 2 more arguments; summation.
3. Prepare speeches:
Opening - include overview of topic, outline three key arguments and explain one in detail.
Rebuttals - react and rebut opponents first argument and explain two additional points.
Summation - outline the course of the debate, rebut opponents arguments and show how and why you have won.
Success Criteria:
Lesson Four
Lesson One
Lesson Two
Lesson Three
Prepare for debate on codified vs. uncodified.
C: Describe reasons for and against codification.
B: Explain reasons in detail, with reference to examples.
A: Compare reasons and judge whether we should codify our constitution.
Reasons for and against a codified constitution.
C: Describe reasons for and against codification.
B: Explain reasons in detail, with reference to examples.
A: Compare reasons and judge whether we should codify our constitution.
Evaluation of the UK constitution.
C: Describe reasons for and against codification.
B: Explain reasons in detail, with reference to examples.
A: Compare reasons and judge whether we should codify our constitution.
40 mark questions
C: Describe reasons for and against codification.
B: Explain reasons in detail, with reference to examples.
A: Compare reasons and judge whether we should codify our constitution.
TERMS GAME
Law (rule of)- how made and enforced
Amendments - how to
Institutions of state - parliament, etc.
Rights and duties of citizens
Geographical make up
Distribution of power - what can parliament do?
External relationships - EU, UN
DE GRAIL
Functions of a constitution
Positive Negative
How good is our constitution?
Parliamentary sovereignty creates strong, decisive government.
Can create over-mighty government, and tyranny of the minority.
Evaluation of the Constitution
So, overall how good is the UK constitution?

Should we codify it?
TERMS GAME
How to answer 40 mark questions
'The advantages of a codified constitution now outweigh its disadvantages.' Discuss.
How does the US constitution compare to the UK?
40 marks
What makes a good 40 mark question?
Model Answer
How does it meet the success criteria?
What would you take away from this answer?
40 mark answer plan:
Point
1. Decide your line of argument - codified or uncodified?
2. Use PEEE to make 3 points for each side.
Evidence
Explanation
Evaluation
Homework:

Video - 'Constitutional reform in the UK'

Watch and make notes, test on content next lesson.
Constitutional Reform in the UK
Evaluate success of constitutional reform since 1997.
C: Describe constitutional reforms in detail.
B: Explain success and failures of reforms.
A: Evaluate relative success of reforms by making comparisons.
How successful have reforms been since 1997?
Test on constitutional reform:
TASK:
In pairs investigate a reform, using textbook pp.15-16 and laptops.
Identify successes and failures of the reforms.
Assess how successful the reforms have been overall.
Report back to class.
Devolution
Human rights
Electoral reforms
House of Lords
Elected mayors
Judicial reform
Constitutional reform since 1997 has been largely successful.
NO
YES
'We need more devolution of powers.'
NO
YES
Develop ability to answer source-based questions (5/10/25).
C: 5 mark - knowledge questions.
B: 10 mark - explanation questions.
A: 25 mark - evaluation questions.
TERMS GAME
‘Constitutional reform since 1997 has not gone far enough.’ Discuss.
40 marks
What makes a good 40 mark question?
Detailed plan of 40 mark question.
C: Describe constitutional reforms in detail.
B: Explain success and failures of reforms.
A: Evaluate relative success of reforms by making comparisons.
What is this questions asking for?
Task:
Use the planning sheet to prepare an answer.
‘Constitutional reform since 1997 has not gone far enough.’ Discuss. [40 marks]
Remember:
Make a judgement on the question
Include 3 arguments for each side
Show your line of argument by evaluating the strength of each point
‘Constitutional reform since 1997 has not gone far enough.’ Discuss. [40 marks]
'We should crowd-source a new constitution.'
NO
YES
Full transcript