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The Constitution A brief History How did our Constitution develop? In 1689 King William of Orange (Holland) and Queen Mary were invited by parliament.

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Presentation on theme: "The Constitution A brief History How did our Constitution develop? In 1689 King William of Orange (Holland) and Queen Mary were invited by parliament."— Presentation transcript:

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2 The Constitution A brief History

3 How did our Constitution develop? In 1689 King William of Orange (Holland) and Queen Mary were invited by parliament to raise an army and take the throne of England from the last catholic monarch, James II. There was little bloodshed and James fled to France. Why is this relevant to modern politics? The Glorious Revolution 1688

4 There was no Revolution, it was a gradual process Because there was no revolution or new beginning as such, no single document was produced, the constitution was uncodified. Traditions from the past were kept and added to e.g. Because there was no revolution or new beginning as such, no single document was produced, the constitution was uncodified. Traditions from the past were kept and added to e.g. the monarch - from this time on absolute monarchy became a thing of the past and constitutional monarchy began. He now required the support of parliament the monarch - from this time on absolute monarchy became a thing of the past and constitutional monarchy began. He now required the support of parliament The monarch’s ministers became the Cabinet and brought matters to parliament for approval The monarch’s ministers became the Cabinet and brought matters to parliament for approval Parliament were now protected from absolutism and the Bill of Rights guaranteed this Parliament were now protected from absolutism and the Bill of Rights guaranteed this

5 Shortly after this event, a Bill of Rights was drawn up…….. Some of the main articles are still regarded as of considerable relevance today, particularly those affecting parliament which required that: Parliament should be frequently summoned and that there should be free elections (articles 13 and 8); Parliament should be frequently summoned and that there should be free elections (articles 13 and 8); Members and Peers should be able to speak and act freely in Parliament (article 9); Members and Peers should be able to speak and act freely in Parliament (article 9); No armies should be raised in peacetime and no taxes levied, without the authority of parliament (articles 4 and 6); No armies should be raised in peacetime and no taxes levied, without the authority of parliament (articles 4 and 6); Laws should not be dispensed with or suspended without the consent of parliament (articles 1 and 2). Laws should not be dispensed with or suspended without the consent of parliament (articles 1 and 2). One further article is also considered as having modern significance: One further article is also considered as having modern significance: That excessive bail ought not to be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted (article 10) That excessive bail ought not to be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted (article 10)

6 How significant was the Bill of Rights? It was confirmed by parliament and as such is recorded as a legal Statute, although some argue that it was a statement of existing rights, rather than a set of new ones. However there are certain laws which are generally regarded as being “core” constitutional laws that deserve and receive particular respect and special consideration, and the 1689 Bill of Rights falls into this category. For example, the courts would generally be unwilling to accept that such legislation have been overridden by later statutes except in very clear language. For example, the courts would generally be unwilling to accept that such legislation have been overridden by later statutes except in very clear language. It is still therefore correct to say that the constitution is “uncodified”, rather than “unwritten”. With a written constitution it is generally easier to distinguish constitutional laws from the rest of the law, while in the UK there is no strict distinction.

7 Did all this make things DEMOCRATIC? NO NO

8 How did they make it democratic? The people needed the vote. This eventually happened with two Reform Acts The people needed the vote. This eventually happened with two Reform Acts 1832 the new middles classes got the vote 1832 the new middles classes got the vote The CONSTITUTION was now the LIBERAL CONSTITUTION i.e. the power of the state was restricted and so individuals had their individual freedoms protected. How? because the Cabinet were now chosen by the House of Commons, who were elected by the people. The CONSTITUTION was now the LIBERAL CONSTITUTION i.e. the power of the state was restricted and so individuals had their individual freedoms protected. How? because the Cabinet were now chosen by the House of Commons, who were elected by the people some workers were allowed the vote 1867 some workers were allowed the vote.After this began the era of mass parties. This is important because the majority party in the Commons now chose the Executive(Cabinet). The House of Commons as a body had now lost its power to the majority of voters..After this began the era of mass parties. This is important because the majority party in the Commons now chose the Executive(Cabinet). The House of Commons as a body had now lost its power to the majority of voters.

9 So who is sovereign? (all powerful) Circa 1688 – 2000? The monarch? The monarch? He/she chose the Cabinet, but they had to be supported by Parliament. Ministers were answerable/accountable to Parliament He/she chose the Cabinet, but they had to be supported by Parliament. Ministers were answerable/accountable to Parliament Parliament? Parliament? They chose the Cabinet until the 1867 Reform Act and then it became the majority in the Commons who chose the PM and Cabinet and held them accountable. This is known as Ministerial Responsibility They chose the Cabinet until the 1867 Reform Act and then it became the majority in the Commons who chose the PM and Cabinet and held them accountable. This is known as Ministerial Responsibility The people? The people? They elected the majority party, who in turn controlled the Commons, who in turn held ministers to account. They elected the majority party, who in turn controlled the Commons, who in turn held ministers to account.

10 What does A.V. Dicey say? AV Dicey wrote about the TWIN PILLARS of the constitution. He said parliament was sovereign. He explains further by arguing that our constitution was based on two principles AV Dicey wrote about the TWIN PILLARS of the constitution. He said parliament was sovereign. He explains further by arguing that our constitution was based on two principles Parliamentary sovereignty - all power rests with parliament Parliamentary sovereignty - all power rests with parliament The Rule of Law – equality, trial by court and much more… The Rule of Law – equality, trial by court and much more…

11 So? That is the brief history of the constitution. This will enhance your knowledge and lay the foundations upon which to start looking at how decisions are made within the UK. That is the brief history of the constitution. This will enhance your knowledge and lay the foundations upon which to start looking at how decisions are made within the UK. Where within all this do the PM, Cabinet, Commons lie today? Where within all this do the PM, Cabinet, Commons lie today? Who has the power to do what? Who has the power to do what?


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