Defines location of supreme
constitutional power. It is legal
sovereignty that enables Parliament
to make, unmake or remove any
law it wishes.
Accuracy & relevance is questioned
Parliament is not politically
It is subject to political constraints such as pressure groups,
public opinion, views of trading partners (USA/EU) & policies of
international organisations (EU/UN).
There is also a shift towards popular
sovereignty (use of referendums, citizen’s
rights). Finally, it may no longer be legally
sovereign due to EU membership.
Rule of Law
traditionally seen as
alternative to codified
that even without an
element of higher law,
the government is still
subject to legal checks
and constraints. It is
not above the law.
The structure of the constitution is based on the
powers of the executive & Parliament fusing.
Government & Parliament overlap in their institutions
– in effect, Government governs in and through
Concern is held towards the combination of the principle of parliamentary
sovereignty and parliamentary government.
E.g. the close relationship between government & Parliament could lead to the executive
using sovereign power of Parliament for its own purpose (elective dictatorship).
Monarch remains constitutionally significant
despite no longer being absolute.
During c.19th most of the remaining powers of
the monarch were transferred to ministers
accountable to Parliament, particularly the PM.
Role of the monarch is to ‘promote popular allegiance’
(Heywood, p.175) and act as a symbol of political unity above
conventional party politics.
According to Bagehot – the monarch has the right to
be informed, consulted, to warn and to encourage.
Draws into question the role of
Parliament & whether is can be
viewed as a sovereign legislature.
Within the UK context, sovereignty is best
considered as ‘parliamentary sovereignty
within the context of EU membership’.
It effects parliamentary sovereignty
in three ways…
EU law is higher than statute
law – established by
Factortame case in 1991
Some EU bodies (European Commission) have
supranational powers EU bodies can impose
their will on member states regardless of he
stance taken by national legislatures.
Decline of the ‘national veto’ – this served to
protect parliamentary sovereignty by allowing any
member state to block EU measures that
threatened national interests.
But, a large proportion of decisions are made by the EU’s
decision-making body, the Council of Ministers, which is
called ‘qualified majority voting’.