why do we need a written constitution

Should parliaments have a fixed term? The fixed the duration of parliament and set the election date, with parliaments to be held every five years on the first Thursday in May. Previously, under the 1911 Parliament Act http://www. legislation. gov. uk/ukpga/Geo5/1-2/13/contents, parliaments were not allowed to extend beyond five years, but the Prime Minister had the power to call an election when they decided at any point prior to the 5 year maximum. It is still possible for parliament to be dissolved before its set term if the house passes a vote of no confidence, or two thirds of the House of Commons resolves to hold an early election.


There were several key elements of debate surrounding the bill. The House of Lords contended that parliament did not have the right to bind future parliaments, and attempted to introduce a clause whereupon each new government would have to agree to a fixed-term. This was defeated by the House of Commons, but a review offered in 2020. There were also fears that the move could. Even amongst those in favour of fixed term parliaments there was considerable debate.


Some were in favour of a four year fixed term, arguing that this would be more representative of past parliaments. Others claimed that a five year term was necessary to ensure a four year working period, given the time lost around elections. Equally there was debate on whether.
Yesterday evening I went to London, first to go to a book launch/colloquium on the idea of a written constitution for the UK -- to celebrate the publication of s book, which not only argues for a written constitution, but has a go at drafting one. I haven t read the book yet, but there were plenty of arguments last night on and around the British Constitution (for and against a written version) from 14 speakers, who miraculously kept to time.


I have to say that I came away with the idea that British politics was in a right royal mess, but that a written constitution wasn t likely to be the panacea. There were some fascinating contributions, apart from Gordon himself. It was good to hear argue against an elected upper house, for example. And was eloquent on the excess of legislation under New Labour: one new criminal offence for every day they have been in power, so no wonder so much of it is so sloppily drafted and under-scrutinized.


The problem for me was that those who advocated a written constitution didn t convincingly explain why that would actually help our current dilemmas. In fact, as pointed out, the campaign for a written constitution tended to become a shopping list for a whole lot of other things we d like to change (and which didnt actually need a written constitution at all). And had a good number of cautionary tales about the endless supreme court messes that can result if you do have one.


Then there was the question of whether you could compare our constitution to a tennis club. started off his plea for a written constitution with just that comparison. If you become a member of a tennis club, he said, and you ask what the club s rules are, you don t expect to be told that they are scattered through various minute books and that some of them are just convention, not really written down at all. So why do we tolerate that with the state? Well it isn t actually that simple.