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The Constitution of the United Kingdom

A Contextual Analysis

By: Peter Leyland
Media of The Constitution of the United Kingdom
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Published: 15-07-2021
Format: Paperback
Edition: 4th
Extent: 336
ISBN: 9781509945542
Imprint: Hart Publishing
Series: Constitutional Systems of the World
Dimensions: 216 x 138 mm
RRP: £19.99
Online price : £17.99
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About The Constitution of the United Kingdom

Praise for the previous editions
“[A] slim guide to the constitution of the United Kingdom that is both highly readable and impressively thorough. It deserves a place on undergraduate reading lists … [students] will certainly find it worth their while' Cambridge Law Journal

“[The] written style is admirably clear, conversational and free from jargon … It will be of immense interest to anybody with a general interest in UK law, politics and history.” Times Higher Education

This timely new edition addresses the many constitutional changes that have arisen since 2016 (including those brought about by Brexit and the COVID-19 pandemic) whilst retaining its hallmark features of clarity and concision.

Adopting a thematic approach, it discusses questions of history, sources and conventions, the role of the Crown, Parliament and the electoral system, government and the executive, the judiciary, and the territorial distribution of power. In addition, it offers analysis of the evolution of the UK's historic non-codified constitution, its strengths and perceived weaknesses, and of reform initiatives. Engaging with the central issues in play as the UK enters a new chapter, it explores the impact on devolved government, the principle of sovereignty, the role of the courts and parliamentary reform.

As well as providing a contextual and authoritative overview of the principles, doctrines and institutions that underpin the elusive constitution, this study will allow students of law and politics, both from the UK and abroad, to develop an informed view of how it actually works.

Table Of Contents

1. UK Constitution: Context and History
Introduction
Constitutional Contexts
What is Liberal Democracy?
The UK Constitution, Constitutionalism, and Good Governance
Democracy, Accountability, and the Digital World
Constitutional History
Qualifying Absolute Monarchy
The Emergence of Parliament and the Path to Democracy
Defining the Nation: What is the United Kingdom?
Empire to Commonwealth
The European Union and Brexit
Constitutional Consequences
Conclusion
Further Reading

2. Sources of the Constitution
Introduction
Statute Law
The Common Law
European Union Law
European Convention on Human Rights
Legal Treatises
The Law and Customs of Parliament
The Royal Prerogative
Conventions as a Constitutional Source
Defining Conventions
The Practical Importance of Constitutional Conventions
Conclusion
Further Reading

3. Constitutional Principles
Introduction
Parliamentary Sovereignty
Defining Legal Sovereignty
Express Repeal, Implied Repeal, and Constitutional Statutes
Sovereignty, EU Law, and Brexit 2
The Human Rights Act 1998 and Sovereignty
The Jackson Case: A Revised Interpretation of Sovereignty?
Political Sovereignty: Elections, Referendums, and Brexit
The Rule of Law and Separation of Powers
Defining Rule of Law
The Response to Dicey
Separation of Powers
Fusion of Powers
Parliament, the Lord Chancellor, and the UK Supreme Court Separation of Powers and Judicial Independence
A Redefinition of Power?
Conclusion
Further Reading

4. Constitutional Monarchy
Introduction
What is the Royal Prerogative?
The Constitutional Role of the Monarchy
Does the Monarch Retain Real Power?
What is the 'Crown'?
Liability of the Crown in Tort and Contract
Evaluation: Preservation, Reform, or Abolition?
Conclusion
Further Reading

5. Parliament
Introduction
General Elections
First Past the Post
Alternatives to First Past the Post
Social Media and Electronic Voting
The Formation of the Government
Parliament: Composition and Procedure
The Speaker and the Role of Backbench MPs
Government and Opposition
Parliamentary Privilege
Parliamentary Standards and the Conduct of MPs
The House of Lords
Composition of the House of Lords
House of Lords: Further Reform?
Parliament as Legislator
Public Bills
Private Members' Bills and Private Bills
English Votes for English Laws (EVEL)
Parliament as Watchdog
Parliamentary Questions
Departmental Select Committees
Wright Reforms: Standing Up to the Executive
Public Accounts Committee and National Audit Office
Parliamentary Scrutiny of Delegated Legislation and the Impact of Brexit
E-Petitions and Popular Democracy
The Parliamentary Ombudsman
Conclusion
Further Reading

6. Government and Executive
Introduction
The Prime Minister and the Government
The Role of Prime Minister
The Prime Ministerial Power and Fixed Term Parliaments
The Prime Minister and Collective Cabinet Responsibility
The Prime Minister: Appointments and Dismissals
10 Downing Street and Policy Formation
Prime Minister's Press Office, SPADS, and Government Spin
Shaping Government Departments
Ministers and Civil Service
Individual Ministerial Responsibility
Government Accountability and the Scott Report
The Role of the Civil Service
New Public Management, Contract State, and Executive Accountability
Civil Service Management and the Recognition of Codes of Practice
Government Openness and the Freedom of Information Act 2000
E-Government Revolution
Conclusion
Further Reading

7. The Constitutional Role of the Courts
Introduction
The Role of the Courts
A Supreme Court for the United Kingdom
Common Law and Statutory Interpretation
The Evolution of the Office of Lord Chancellor
Appointing and Dismissing Judges
Administrative Law and Judicial Review
Red Light and Green Light Theory
Tribunals and the 'Green Light' View
The Impact of Judicial Review
Distinguishing Public Law from Private Law
The Requirements of Standing
Grounds of Judicial Review
The Question of Merits
The Constitutional Protection of Rights and the Human Rights Act 1998
Vertical or Horizontal Effect
Proportionality Review
Significant Cases under the Human Rights Act 1998
Reforming the Human Rights Act or replacing it with a British Bill of Rights?
Conclusion
Further Reading

8. Devolution
Introduction
Historical Backdrop
Institutional Features: Scotland and Wales
A New Form of Devolution for Northern Ireland
Intergovernmental Relations: Concordats
Legal Sovereignty and the Sewel Convention
Devolution and the Courts
The Scottish Referendum and the Consolidation of Devolution
Finance and Tax-raising
Devolution and Brexit
Devolution and England
The West Lothian Question and Constitutional Reform
Conclusion
Further Reading

9. Local Government
Introduction
Mayors, Cities, Regions
The Wider Structure of Local Government
The Financing of Local Government
From Compulsory Competitive Tendering to Best Value
Citizen Participation and the Big Society
The Accountability of Local Government
Conclusion
Further Reading

10. The UK Constitution: The Way Ahead?
Introduction
Parliament and Civil Service: Challenges to Core Institutions
The Integrity of the UK as a Nation State
Is there a Case for the Introduction of a Codified Constitution?
Conclusion
Further Reading

Reviews

“Signposting is clear and helpful. Bibliographies are to the point...The prose is clear and authoritative. The reader's tour of Britain's constitutional history is efficient. The parliamentary process, including the passage of bills through Westminster, is described accessibly and with concision. The classic texts of constitutional analysis – Dicey, Bagehot, Jennings and the like – are introduced and their contribution summarised. And the radical reforms of the Blair administrations are recounted effectively...a valuable introductory survey.” –  Andrew MacDonald, The Law & Politics Book Review

“I was aware of the quality and accessibility of the material that the books covers. The current edition is a very useful update that takes into account the most important developments of the UK constitution.” –  Dr Nikos Skoutaris, University of East Anglia

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