Public Law - Separation of Powers in the UK Constitution? I - Introduction

  • Created by: Alasdair
  • Created on: 13-11-20 03:46
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  • Separation of Powers in the UK Constitution? I - Introduction
    • No formal separation of powers under UK constitution
    • Lord Hunt
      • 'We do not have a written constitution in the UK, or a formalised separation of powers, so it is particularly important that we are on our guard against anything that blurs the lines between the legislative, judicial and executive branches of state.'
    • Why there is no formal separation of powers within UK constitution?
      • no formal 'break' in constitutional history of UK
        • Unlike USA
          • Constitution was written in 1787 shortly after War of Independence from GB
          • One of key objectives of founding fathers was to write document which would ensure separation of powers between executive, legislative and judicial branches of state
            • Thereby, preventing exercise of tyrannical and arbitrary government by executive (which fathers saw as weakness in GB Constitution
        • Means UK constitution developed on ad hoc basis and remains unwritten
          • As result of having unwritten constitution, no formal system or arrangement has been put in place to ensure separation of powers maintained
            • Instead, partial separation of powers between three branches of state exists, together with informal system of checks and balances
    • Executive branch of UK
      • Made up of Queen, PM and other government Ministers, civil service, and members of police and armed forces
      • Central government
        • Comprises Queen, government ministers and members of civil service
      • Crown
        • Central government plus members of police and armed forces
    • Judicial branch of state
      • Made up of Queen, all legally qualified judges and magistrates
    • Queen
      • Part  of all three branches of state
      • Role is largely ceremonial
      • Government is legally 'Queen's Government'
        • In reality, government ministers appointed by PM
      • By convention, most of Queen's legal powers are exercised by Government on her behalf
      • Part of legislature
        • Because she must give her Royal Assent before a bill  passed through Parliament can become Act of Parliament
          • Queen may refuse to give Royal Assent to bill, by convention she always gives this
      • Head of judiciary
        • Judges are  'Queen's judges' and courts are 'Queen's courts'
          • Hence 'R v..' with R standing for 'Regina' or 'Rex' or the Crown
        • Queen doesn't exercise any judicial power


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