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The Evolution of a Constitution

Eight Key Moments in British Constitutional History

By: Elizabeth Wicks
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Published: 02-06-2006
Format: Paperback
Edition: 1st
Extent: 232
ISBN: 9781841134185
Imprint: Hart Publishing
Dimensions: 234 x 156 mm
RRP: £36.99
Online price : £25.89
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About The Evolution of a Constitution

This new work casts light upon the British constitution of today by means of an in-depth consideration of eight key moments in British constitutional history. The historical perspective adopted in this book facilitates an informed and contextual understanding of the intricacies of the contemporary British constitution. Indeed the book is based upon the premise that it is impossible to fully comprehend the nature, content and implications of today's constitution without a firm grasp on how it evolved into its present form. Each of the eight main chapters focuses upon a different event in constitutional history which has contributed certain principles or practices to the modern day constitution, and explains how these principles or practices evolved and highlights their modern day significance. Historical events covered include the 1688 Glorious Revolution, the 1707 Union between England and Scotland, the 1911 Parliament Act and the 1972 European Communities Act.

Table Of Contents

Introduction

1688 – Glorious Revolution; Enduring Settlement: Sovereignty, Liberty and the Constitution

1707 – Union between England and Scotland: Unitary State and Limited Parliament

1721 – The First Prime Minister? Executive Power and Its Journey from Monarch to Prime Minister

1832 – The Great Reform Act: A First Step towards Democratic Representation?

1911 – The Parliament Act: Guaranteeing the Legislative Superiority of the House of Commons

1953 – The European Convention on Human Rights: an External Influence Within the Constitution

1972 – The European Communities Act: European Legal Supremacy under the UK Constitution 137

1998 – Devolution to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland: Decentralising the Union State

Conclusion: The Evolving Constitution

Reviews

“This is an important and original book. It is a commentary and exegesis on the British constitution by means of eight case studies, turning points which shaped the constitution but which also shed light upon it...In each case Wicks depicts beautifully the historical context, related the events to constitutional moments before and after, and highlights their contemporary significance.
The most original contribution of the book is the way in which Wicks teases out core principles of the British constitution which can be derived from each of the episodes she analyses. Some of these are familiar, but some are new and important...this is a commentary on the British constitution which ranks in the canon alongside Bagehot, Dicey and Jennings, and it deserves to last as long.
” –  Robert Hazell, Journal of Legislative Studies, Volume 13, Number 2

“…a valuable contribution to constitutional history. It is clearly written and stimulating. It provides invaluable background reading for constitutional lawyers.” –  Vernon Bogdanor, The Law Quarterly Review, Vol 123

“The most original contribution of the book is the way in which Wicks teases out core principles of the British constitution which can be derived from each of the episodes she analyses… this is a commentary on the British constitution which ranks in the canon alongside Bagehot, Dicey and Jennings, and it deserves to last as long.” –  Robert Hazell, Journal of Law and Society

“…an innovative and important contribution to British constitutional studies. As a result of an acute understanding of both history and present day realities, Wicks not only demonstrates the need, but also provides the opportunity to examine Britain's constitutional evolution in order to understand her current challenges and predicament. It is a first-class piece of scholarship which deserves a wide and engaged readership.” –  David Erdos, The Law and Politics Book Review, Vol 17, No 1

“...this challenging and well-researched book ought to be read widely by those teaching and studying constitutional law...I am sure that the book's format could provide an excellent eight-week introductory course in constitutional law: indeed, the book itself provides ample material for an advanced course on these lines.” –  Anthony Bradley, Public Law

“...the practical complexities of devolution which it illustrates are deeply interesting.” –  Alexandra Kelso, Parliamentary Affairs, Vol. 61 No. 3

“It is a work of erudition and fine insights and is written in a style free from jargon.” –  A.G. Noorani, Frontline

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