Sources of the British Constitution


In this recorded lecture presentation Denis Edwards considers different types of constitutions and examines the sources of the UK constitution.

A number of significant statutory sources are referred to including the Bill of Rights (Claim of Right) 1688/89, The Act of Settlement 1700, The Acts of Union (creating GB and then the UK, in 1707 and 1801), The Parliament Acts 1911-49, The European Communities Act 1972, The Devolution legislation, eg Scotland Acts 1998-2016, The Human Rights Act 1998, The Constitutional Reform Act 2005 (creating the Supreme Court).

Common law sources include R (Miller) v. Secretary of State for Exiting the EU (2017) concerning the powers of the UK government to leave the EU; MacCormick v. Lord Advocate (1953), concerning the sovereignty of Parliament; R v. SSHD ex parte Fire Brigades’ Union (1995), defining prerogative powers and A v. SSHD (2005), concerning human rights (freedom from arbitrary detention).

European sources are also mentioned including the Treaty on European Union (TEU), the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU (TFEU) and the European Convention on Human Rights. In addition, constitutional conventions, ministerial responsibility and constitutional values are considered.


Duration: 38 minutes (approximately)
Lecturer: Denis Edwards


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