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Parliamentary Sovereignty Notes

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PARLIAMENTARY SOVEREIGNTY AV Dicey (1885): sov of Parliament as "the dominant characteristic of our political institutions" - 2 claims

1. Positive claim: Parliament can make any law

2. Negative claim: no one can impugn the validity of an Act of Parliament Lord Bingham in R(Jackson) v AG (2006): doctrine constitutes the bedrock of the British constitution Dicey recognised both "internal" and "external" political limits on the lawmaker?

Internal limits = rules and practices of Parliament + pol and moral pressures imposed by consti conventions, patronage and party discipline External limits = what those subject to the law are prepared to accept

Dicey's version of doctrine of Parl sov increasingly being questioned:

The basis of Parliamentary sovereignty Without written constitution, basis of Parl sov is unclear ? no logical reason, although may be practically desirable why there should be a single legal sovereign with unlimited power?

Perhaps only feasible explanation is political: sufficient general acceptance of Parl sov by officials including courts and by the public generally to make the doctrine effective - Lord Hope in Jackson Effectiveness only basis of any constitution

However, Lakin (2008): too uncertain doctrine, implausible to suppose that officials + public have accepted itArgues doctrine is a myth ? only the law itself can determine what is legally valid

Wade (1955): parl sov derives from political event, the 1688 revolution, from which Parl emerged triumphant over the Crown - political principle standing outside and above legal system, giving it its validity Lord Bridge in Factortame (1991) took the view that Parl sov can be altered by statute - if so then doctrine is no more than a provisional working arrangement

Whatever view is taken, courts have to address any uncertainties in the doctrine, where relevant to any case before them - however, according to conventional doctrine, Parliament can undo any court decision.

Meaning of an Act of Parliament Parl sov concerns only lawmaking power, specifically only Act of Parliament - three levels of rule

1. Basic definition: document that received assent of Queen, Lords and Commons - Courts bound by a document that appears to have received the necessary assent

2. Under Parliament Acts 1911 and 1949 if the Commons so decides and subject to important exemptions, a bill can become law without the consent of HoL after a prescribed delaying period - Courts can decide whether the bill falls within 1911 Act

3. Complex network of rules of composition and internal procedures of each House - matters of Parliamentary privilege, cannot be investigated by courts

Conventional doctrine of Parliamentary Sovereignty

1. Freedom to make any kind of law Dicey claimed that Parl can make any laws it wishes, irrespective of fairness, justice and practicality Can enact laws that are grossly immoral or unjust:Lord Reid in Madzimbamuto (1959): often said would be unconstitutional for Parl to do something where most people would regard it as highly improper for moral or pol reasons BUT does not mean it is beyond its power to do

2. Parliament cannot be overridden

Int bodies do not have the power in English law to declare an Act of Parliament invalid - IL can alter legal rights in the UK only if adopted by Parliament In the event of a conflict between a Statute and other kind of law, statute must always prevail

3. Parliament cannot bind its successors In a sense, limit on Parliament but also means that Parl cannot be restricted by a previous statute, so preserving parl sovereignty ? idea that no Parl should be able to tie the hands of a future Parl

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