A UK Bill Of Right — страница 2

  • Просмотров 266
  • Скачиваний 9
  • Размер файла 16

regulating this type of situation. Westminster would be rendered impotent – action against the Scottish Parliament would be seen as a direct insult to the Scottish people, whereas inaction may be detrimental to the integrity of the United Kingdom as a whole. This is obviously a worrying situation, the pro-reformists arguing that it could be easily avoided by a clarification of the Edinburgh – Westminster relationship, which would seem to be a fair point. Ever since Britain´s joining of the European Union (EU) in 1973, bodies such as the European Court of Justice (ECJ), the European Commission and the Council of Ministers have had a great influence over the way Britain is run, as well as over the evolution of the constitution.. Parliamentary sovereignty, a cornerstone of the

current constitution, has been severely undermined. Budge et al (1998, p.180) noted four main ways the EU has had an influence. Firstly, the supremacy of the ECJ in many spheres of law has taken its toll due its ability to overrule many of the decisions taken by the British courts. Secondly, many parliamentary statutes have been declared contrary to EU law by the ECJ, effectively rendering them illegal. Next, parliament´s ability to make legislation is restricted to those areas outside European law. Considering that the European law-making bodies are under only a small amount of British influence, this would seem to indicate parliament has no say as regards legislation that affects the lives of all Britons. Lastly is the fact that the passing of the European Communities Act has

effectively bound future governments into accepting all of the above points. Overall, this is a major argument for pro-reformists who say clarification of the constitutional position would allow us to accept the obvious fact that parliamentary sovereignty is not as important as it used to be. The Conservative Manifesto (1997) stated that, ‘Alone in Europe, the history of the United Kingdom has been one of stability and security. We owe much of that to the strength and stability of our constitution.´ This statement forms the cornerstone of the anti-reformists´ argument. It alludes to the maxim, ‘if it ain´t broke don´t fix it.´ This may be a valid point in that Britain has been relatively stable in a European context for thousands of years. However, recent upheavals

regarding the make-up of the UK and the increasing globalisation of the world indicates Britain´s situation in a European and world context is changing. The ‘ain´t broke´ argument does not allow for this. Many times in the past nations have deluded themselves into a false sense of security to their cost. An example would be the inter-war years of 1919-1938. Another anti-reformist argument regards the current social situation in the UK. Many would say the need for improved healthcare, housing and welfare benefits needs all the attention rather than something that would have little obvious influence on a person´s day to day life. This is a fair point in that there are issues that need to be addressed other than constitutional reform. However, there will always be problems in

any country that are attention grabbing, who´s to say the constitutional relationship with Europe and its effect on jobs will not be the ‘next big thing´? It seems that it would be reckless to ignore the issue until it becomes big news. The last argument to be brought up in this essay is that of the constitution´s flexibility. For example, the US Bill of Rights implicitly states the right of the American citizen to bear arms. No matter what modern events take place e.g. the Columbine school massacre, the Supreme Court cannot allow large-scale gun control measures to take place due to it being against the word of a document written over two hundred years ago. Anti-reformists argue that this indicates that a fully codified, written constitution would be unable to keep up with

the times, ultimately rendering it obsolete. However, this is not entirely accurate. According to Finer et al (1995, p.113) Article V of the United States constitution allows an amendment to the document if two-thirds of the Congress votes accordingly. This provision allows the constitution to change as and when required, something that has happened twenty seven times in the history of the United States. It would seem that it works perfectly well for the US, pro-reformists would argue the same for Britain. In the course of this essay some of the arguments for and against the establishment of a fully codified, written British Bill of Rights have been detailed and assessed. The point has been made that the anti-reformists are reluctant to alter something that has worked for