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/Ian Loveland, Constitutional law: a Critical introduction, London, 1996/
This introduction to constitutional law renders the subject explicable in political and historical as well as legal terms. Particularly critical and contextual in approach, it contains much historical and theoretical material. The author of the book reveals the problem of democracy, modern constitution, parliamentary sovereignty, the separation of powers, forced execution of court decisions and court orders in Great Britain and USA.
According to the author’s opinion, democracy is a system of government in which all the people of a state or polity are involved in making decisions about its affairs, typically by voting to elect representatives to a parliament or similar assembly. Democracy contrasts with forms of government where power is either held by an individual, as in an absolute monarchy, or where power is held by a small number of individuals, as in an oligarchy.
Summarizing the first and the second chapter of book, pay attention on two problems of an uncodified constitution. First, it makes it difficult to know what the state of the constitution actually is. Second, it suggests that it is easier to make changes to the UK Constitution than in countries with written constitutions, because the latter have documents with a ‘higher law’ status against which ordinary statute law and government action can be tested, and are only amendable via elaborate procedures.
Describing form of government of Great Britain in the second chapter of the book, the author admits that parliament sovereignty was not designed for a modern, democratic society which has large political parties which contest general elections on nationwide basis. Parliamentary sovereignty in the United Kingdom is a concept that has long been debated. Since the subordination of the monarchy under parliament and the increasingly democratic methods of parliamentary government, there have been the questions of whether parliament holds a supreme ability to legislate and whether or not it should. The author criticizes the traditional view made by A. V. Dicey according to which parliament had the power to make any law except any law that bound its successors.
Summarizing chapter 3, we mention, that Britain’s constitutional tradition rests securely on the three supporting pillars of parliamentary sovereignty, the rule of law and the separation of powers, which are themselves securely rooted in foundation stone of democracy. The British Constitution is unwritten in one single document, unlike the constitution in America or the proposed European Constitution, and as such, is referred to as an uncodified constitution in the sense that there is no single document that can be classed as Britain's constitution. The US separates the executive, legislative and the judiciary and have all of them checking on the other to make sure that the constitution is not being abused. In the UK, our executive and legislative and fused (fusion of powers), and the judiciary was separated in 2005.
In chapter 4 the author analyzes the royal prerogative and justifiability. By extending the scope of justifiability, the courts can place tighter controls on government’s ability to behave in ways that seen inconsistent with traditional understanding of rule of law. In addition to having analysed the legal mechanism of judicial review, the author assesses political methods of control under judiciary.
The fourth and the fifth chapters are devoted to legislative body of UK. The contemporary House of Commons is a body in which party politics is dominant determinant both in the legislative process and in respect of executive accountability. The House of Lords scrutinises Bills that have been approved by the House of Commons. It regularly reviews and amends Bills from the Commons. While it is unable to prevent Bills passing into law, except in certain limited circumstances, it can delay Bills and force the Commons to reconsider their decisions. In this capacity, the Lords acts as a check on the House of Commons that is independent from the electoral process.
Eventuall, a critical introduction to constitutional law published by the author should be relevant for anyone studying an PhD, but it has a lot of controversial and, sometimes, outdated theses that give rise to discussions about the form of government of GB.