Development of the Constitution

Development of the Constitution of The UK does not have a single codified constitution; instead, the constitution is formed from several sources, including statute, common or case law, and international treaties. Even then, they had to act following the law and take into account the people’s will.

Development of the UK constitution:-

From the above description, we note one leading characteristic of the British Constitution: it results from continuous development. Freeman emphasized this feature with unquestionable accuracy.

He said,

“The continual national life of the people, notwithstanding foreign conquests and internal revolutions, has remained unbroken for fourteen hundred years. At no moment has the tic between the present and the past been wholly rent asunder, at no moment have Englishmen sat down to put together a wholly new constitution in obedience to some dazzling theory. Each Step in our growth has been the natural consequence of some earlier step; each change in our law and constitution has been, not the beginning in anything wholly new, but the development and improvement of something that was already old. Our progress has in some ages been faster, in others slower; at some moments we have seemed to stand still, or even to go back | but the great mark of political development has never wholly stopped; it has never been permanently checked since the days. When the coming in of the Teutonic conquerors first began to change Britain into England.”

The starting point of the British: Constitution and the principles which govern their working lie scattered into the past and the present mechanism of government can only be understood if we analyze the process of this growth; how the British Constitution came into being and how it assumed its present form and stature.

It is customary to divide this growth process into six distinct periods but divide them into three as practical utility matters. The first period extends from the time of the Angles and Saxons through the Norman and Angevin dynasties to 1485.

This period may be called the period in which were laid the foundations of the Constitution. The second period extends from 1485 to 1689 and covers the establishment of the Tudor dynasty through the early and later Stuart periods and embraces the Puritan Revolution and Commonwealth; this period is called Reconstruction of the Constitution. By the end of the fifteenth century, Parliament had begun to show marks of its strength, and the King’s power had definitely eclipsed.

The great institutional foundation of the modem English Constitution had been firmly laid. The years to come were like further growth and adjustment of these institutions leading to altered balances of power and control mechanisms.

The third period extends from 1689 to the present, and it is of more direct interest to the British Government students today. In this period came the rounding out, or fructification of the Constitution. The Glorious Revolution of 1689 drew to a close, the great constitutional struggle of the seventeenth century. Kings in the future held the throne by the grace of Parliament. Kings could be made and unmade by Parliament. Parliament was, therefore, Supreme.

The Bill of Rights embodied the constitutional rules and principles that should guide the king’s transactions in his dealings with Parliament. It stated clearly and definitely the limitations on the king’s power. One specific clause decreed that no future ruler of England could be a Roman Catholic or marry a Roman Catholic.

The Bill of Rights marked the culminating point in the evolution of the fundamentals. The center of gravity had shifted from the King to Parliament. But it was many years before the change became clearly understood. It took time for seeds that had been sown in earlier periods to germinate to this and grow into fully matured popular government institutions. Following are the main lines of growth and development which complete our account in making the British

Constitution what it stands for today diminished powers of the King, the emergence of the cabinet and consequently responsible Ministryrise of political parties; leadership of the Prime Minister, shifting of power within Parliament; democratization of the House of Commons as a result of enactment oi a series of Reform Bills beginning from 1832; and the great constitutional changes which altered the character of the British Empire.

The latest change was made by the Labour Government recently when it reduced the absolute number and the hereditary element in the House of Lords’ composition.

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