AN ASSESSMENT OF THE ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES OF A WRITTEN CONSTITUTION FOR THE UNITED KINGDOM, TOGETHER WITH CONCLUSIONS AS THE WHETHER THE UNITED KINGDOM SHOULD ADOPT A WRITTEN CONSTITUTION
The current public debate concerning the need or desire for a written constitution for the United Kingdom is in its fourteenth year (Howe, 1993). During the past 14 years, events in many instances have made moot some of the arguments for constitutional reform for the United Kingdom, as well as rendering obsolete some proposed constitutional models (Jones, 2003).
This paper considers some of the more important of the claimed advantages and disadvantages of a so-called written constitution, together with an assessment of the current status and form of the constitution of the United Kingdom. Based on the considerations and assessment, conclusions are drawn concerning the need or desirability of developing and adopting a written constitution for the United Kingdom.
Written and Unwritten Constitutions and the Constitution of the United Kingdom
There are several defining guidelines that may be applied in differentiating national constitutions from one another. One of the defining guidelines is the written-unwritten dichotomy (Barnett, 2002). Put most simply, a written constitution is a single document (short or long) with the word "constitution" and the name of a nation in its title. The Constitution of the United States of America is an example of such a document.
In contrast, an unwritten constitution, to begin with, is in writing so to speak. An unwritten constitution is not an ephemeral set of ideas that change on a daily basis and cannot quite be pinned down. Rather, an unwritten constitution if a set of documents, enacted laws, conventions, and case law that defines the framework within which the daily activities of a nation and its people are conducted (Berendt, 1997).
The constitution of the United Kingdom is an ...