The English Constitution

The English Constitution

The English Constitution

The English Constitution

Excerpt

The English Constitution as it exists to-day is the result of a continuous process of development throughout many centuries. It consists of rules and principles which are in part statutory, in part founded on the Common Law, and to a large extent mere usages not having the force of law. The exercise of some of the most important powers of the Crown is governed wholly by conventions or usages. The Cabinet System and the principle of Ministerial Responsibility are also wholly conventional, as are the relations between the Crown and the Cabinet, and between the Cabinet and the Houses of Parliament. But, though the breach of a convention of the Constitution is not in itself a breach of any rule of law, it will be found on examination that the law is the ultimate sanction for the observance of the conventions. This topic, however, requires too much examination of detail to be explained here.

One leading feature of our Constitution is its flexibility. In so far as it consists of rules of law, it is liable to modification to any extent by an Act of Parliament, passed in the ordinary way without any special formalities or any referendum to a popular vote. In so far as it is dependent on convention, it can be altered by the adoption of new usages. In this important matter of flexibility it differs from written constitutions, such as that of the United States of America, which are said to be rigid, and can be modified only by some extraordinary process of legislation laid down in the . . .

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