Essay: UK Constitution the Concept of UK Parliamentary

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UK Constitution

The Concept of UK Parliamentary Supremacy in the Modern World: Relevant or Remnant?

Parliamentary supremacy, the doctrine explicitly outlined by a.V. Dicey as lying at the foundation of the implicit British Constitution, has long been assumed to be a fundamental and essential aspect of British law and constitutionality, insists that the parliament of the United Kingdom retains ultimate sovereignty, and is ultimately answerable to no other body, domestic or international. Whether or not this is actually the case in real world applications, or indeed whether it has ever been entirely true, is a matter of heavy debate, however. Even at the time of Dicey's first explicit construction of this concept there were perhaps some significant limits on the principle, and the modern world contains many other examples of limitations and controls placed on parliamentary supremacy.

There are several factors and institutions that can be seen as limiting parliamentary supremacy and establishing bodies of law that are perhaps even higher than the British Constitution. Because this Constitution is unwritten, at least in specific and explicit form, it is difficult if not impossible to ascertain precisely where supreme power lies, and the growing importance of international bodies such as the European Union and other international bodies of law serve as further restrictions on parliamentary supremacy. These quite explicit elements and other less codified practical realities serve to limit the degree to which the parliament acts as the truly supreme governmental entity, making Dicey's construct ultimately irrelevant.

Dicey's Doctrine

Dicey's proposed doctrine of parliamentary supremacy or parliamentary sovereignty means, quite simply, that no other body can limit the powers of a sitting parliament in the United Kingdom, and that no parliament is bound by any legal restrictions created by any other body, even previous parliaments (Alder, 2007). Parliament, in other words, is supreme, not only in terms of the current entities that comprise the government of the United Kingdom, but in terms of all laws, practices, judicial decisions, etc. (Adler, 2007). This premise means that the parliament could enact a law or take an action that would otherwise be considered unconstitutional -- the very idea of an unconstitutional act of parliament becomes an impossible paradox if Dicey's premise is accepted, as the parliament is the very foundation of the Constitution and the power vested therein (Adler, 2007; Allan, 2011). The implications of this fact would be quite far-reaching, indeed, if it could be demonstrated that the construct of parliamentary supremacy existed in practice.

The idea that a parliament would be able to perform actions and enact laws completely contrary to any previous parliament and in fact contrary to standard and accepted practices and constitutional practices would render legal practice in the United Kingdom all but impossible (Allan, 2011). Understandings of the full implications of Dicey's doctrine and constitutionality appears to be quite lacking in public applications of the law, as well (Murken, 2009). The constitution itself is a subject… [END OF PREVIEW]

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APA Format

UK Constitution the Concept of UK Parliamentary.  (2012, February 26).  Retrieved November 22, 2019, from

MLA Format

"UK Constitution the Concept of UK Parliamentary."  26 February 2012.  Web.  22 November 2019. <>.

Chicago Format

"UK Constitution the Concept of UK Parliamentary."  February 26, 2012.  Accessed November 22, 2019.