Acts of Parliament


Law 9084

Acts of Parliament

Acts of Parliament

This is one of the easiest chapters of all, and there are no hidden complications in it. It is tested in both Paper 1 and paper 2. It is a straightforward chapter, and the first thing you need to do is to learn all the subheadings in this chapter and make sure to cover all when writing the paper. Understand this chapter, and here you can use cases and acts from any chapter you wish from; however, make sure you make a clear link, and they are relevant. 


The law is derived in three ways:

1. Case law/ common law: the law made by judges such as the PRECEDENT. 

2. Acts of Parliament: it is the laws made by the parliament.

3. Conventions: a law that is not an official law, but it is considered to be true; for example, the queen cannot refuse to give the royal assent.

As per the need for today's world, there is a need for new and updated laws. The system of judicial rule-making by precedents is not ideal for major law reforms, nor is it a form of legal-making for a society today that is reasonably fast and efficient. 

The other point to make is that justices are not democratically elected, and the belief in a democracy is that only the elected officials of government can make laws. So today, Parliament is the UK's main legislative body.

Legislation passed by Parliament is defined as Parliament's Laws or laws, and this form of Legislation is generally referred to as the Act of Parliament.

Every year, nearly 60 to 70 laws are enacted. In relation to Parliament as a whole, the ability to make specific laws and regulations is assigned to government ministers and their departments supplementing Parliament's statutes. 

Such laws are Legislation assigned and are referred to as statutory instruments.


Parliament is made up of the House of Commons and the House of Lords. As per the standard protocol, all houses have to vote on a bill for it to take the name of an act of Parliament.

You need to understand that parliament is the supreme power in the UK. Many people think that the crown is the supreme power, which is not true. Crown is only a title or a ceremonial figure, and all the things are done by the parliament due to which the UK government is unique. It is not a complete democracy or monarchy, and it's somewhere between both.

The House of Commons

The people sitting in the House of Commons are called members of Parliament (MPs). Such House of Commons representatives are directly elected by the people, dividing the country into constituencies and electing one Member of Parliament (MP) from each. a general election must be conducted every five years under the 2011 Fixed-Term Parliament Act.

In fact, in constituencies where the MP has deceased or resigned during the ongoing parliamentary session, separate by-elections will take place to fill up the place for them. The day's government is made up of the party that has a majority in the House of Commons.

The house of commons is the real deal, and this is the house that has MPs elected by the citizens.

The House of Lords

At the beginning of 2013 the House of Lords consisted of:

- About 90 hereditary peers;

- About 700 life peers; and

- The most senior bishops in the Church of England.

Note that the 12 senior justices first sat in the House of Lords. However, they no longer sit in the House of Lords. Like the Supreme Court, they are now independent of the Parliament.

The majority of the House of Lords members were initially hereditary peers. The granting of a lifelong rank (a life peerage) became more widespread during the 20th century.

The prime minister appointed people to be given a title for their entire life, but this title would not be passed on to their kids. Later, the title was given by the crown (king/queen)

Thus, people who had served this country and were believed to be appropriate House of Lords members were capable of bringing their knowledge and experience to the House.

Former politicians who had decided to retire from the House of Commons were given most life peerages. For reference, Margaret Thatcher was given the title of a life peer, since she had been prime minister in the 1980s.

Reform of the House of Lords

In 1999, the House of Lords had more than 1,100 members, 750 of whom were hereditary peers. The Labor party agreed that a hereditary title should not necessarily require someone to be involved in making Legislation in modern society. 

They felt it was necessary to elect some of the representatives and appoint some of them. 

A Royal Commission (referred to as the Wakeham Commission) was created to assist in deciding exactly what policies should be created to pick representatives for the House of Lords. Also, in November 1999, many hereditary peers' privilege to sit in the House of Lords was revoked.

Less than 100 hereditary peers were eligible to be the representative of the House of Lords.

In 2000, the Wakeham Commission published, proposing the appointment of one-third of the House. It should also restrict the political patronage structure by which the prime minister appoints individuals to the House of Lords.  (Very important]

The Commission suggested that an impartial selection commission of the House of Lords would screen all those elected to the House of Lords. It should also be necessary for the Commission to nominate' people's peers.'

Established in 2000, the House of Lords Appointments Commission advised the first so-called peers of the people to be appointed to the House of Lords in 2001. 

These were intended to be regular people that other ordinary citizens had suggested. The list, however, was predominantly of people already known, rather than' Mr. Joe Public.'

This was supposed to be a simple measure as the government worked on the House of Lords' new makeup.

Nevertheless, there were conflicting views about whether any of the House of Lords should be chosen by the general public and how many (and by whom) should be appointed.

As a result, the House of Lord's restructuring was not accomplished.

Remember these reforms. They will make you stand out from all the other candidates.

Influences on Parliamentary Law-Making

The Government Program

It will have a reform program when a government is formed that it needs to carry out. It will have been laid out in his party manifesto on which were told to the people in the general election to vote for the party. 

The government often declares (in the Queen's Speech) at the outset of each parliamentary session the specific laws it plans to enact during that period. Therefore, any new laws are likely to arise from government policy.

European Union Law

There are, nevertheless, other considerations on what Legislation is implemented: European Union rules will lead to new Parliament laws being introduced to put our law into line with European law. 

This may be to enforce a new EU Regulation or Policy, as in the case of the Consumer Protection Act 1987, or because a European Court of Justice ruling has shown that our law is not in compliance with the Treaty of Rome, as in the case of the Sex Discrimination Act 1986.

Remember: The parliament is supposed to “consider the EU law on human rights” while the courts have to interpret the UK law in line with the EU for human rights cases, and the cases/ law of the European court of justice are binding on the UK.

Other Influences

Other external factors involve legislative reform proposals put forth by law reform agencies, commissions, or investigations into the efficacy of current law. Specific events can also play a role in the creation of the Statute. 

The killing of 16 young children and their instructor in Dunblane by a lone gunman in March 1996 was a particularly tragic case. 

There was an inquiry into the gun ownership laws after that. By March 1997, Congress enacted the 1997 Firearms Act (Amendment) prohibiting certain firearms from private ownership.

The terrorist attack on the Twin Towers in New York in September 2001 was another key example of an incident leading to new Legislation. Despite this, Congress enacted the Anti-Terrorism, Crime, and Safety Act of 2001.

One of the clauses of this Act was to require non-UK citizens to be arrested (without charge) where the Home Secretary considers the existence of the individual in the United Kingdom is a risk to national security. It assumes the person to be a threat. 

In 2005, this clause was considered to be a violation of human rights.

Pressure groups can also push the government to rethink the Legislation in some cases. It was seen in 1994 once the government promised to lower the age of consent from 21 to 18 for private homosexual acts.

Then the approval age was further lowered to 16 in 2000. The implementation of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 was another direct example of government bowing to public opinion and advocacy groups' actions. 

The Legislation gives people with disabilities some employment rights. It also claimed that shops and hotels and other facilities should be open to them.

The 2004 Civil Partnership Act granted same-sex couples the freedom to recognize their marriage and to have a civil ceremony. This was the result of changing views towards relationships between the same genders.

These cases and acts are very important, you can explain one and write the others in brackets. Write a minimum of two.

The Pre-Legislative Process

1. A Green Paper may be published by the accountable minister on major issues.

A Green Paper is a consultative paper on a subject that sets forward the opinion of the government with recommendations for improvement of the Legislation. 

Interested parties are then allowed to give suggestions to the relevant department of government so that all aspects can be fully considered and required changes can be made to the policies of the government.

2. The government will then publish a White Paper with firm new law proposals.

Consultation is important as it provides flexibility for thoughtful analysis before any new law is formulated. 

Governments have been blamed for sometimes reacting to events in a' knee-jerk' way and, as a result, it has proven to be unworkable to speed through the Legislation.

It happened with the 1991 Dangerous Dogs Act.

The green paper and the white paper is something you need to remember as the legislative proves. Most people forget it.  

Introducing an Act of Parliament

The government passes the vast majority of Parliament's laws, and these are originally written by civil service experts regarded as the Treasury's Legislative Counsel. 

The government department responsible for it will give instructions as to what is to be included and the effect that the proposed law is supposed to have.

3. Bills

When a potential act us drafted and is ready to be published, it is known as the Bill. 

It will only constitute a Parliament's Act if it passes all the required legislative steps successfully. 

There are difficulties even at this early stage, as the draftsmen face problems attempting to frame the Bill. 

It must be written up to represent the interests of the executive, while at the same time utilizing correct legal language so that there will be no problems with enforcing it in the courts. It must be simple, accurate, and detailed.

It is not easy to achieve all of these, and unexpected problems that occur with the language used, as mentioned in the legislative definition sections.

In relation to this, there is generally emphasis on time, as the government will have a deadline for bringing the draft bill into Parliament.

Private Members' Bills

Both rules are important. If you do not expand on to, just write these briefly. 


Specific MPs may also introduce bills. The legislative process allows in each parliamentary session in which twenty private members are chosen, who can then turn to introduce a Bill to Parliament. 

The time for discussion of Private Members' Bills is restricted, typically only debated on Fridays, so that only the first six to seven members in the ballot have a fair chance to introduce a Bill on their chosen subject.

Relatively few bills by private members become Legislation, but as a consequence of such measures, several important laws have been enacted.

The 1967 Abortion Act, which legalized abortion in this country, was a key example.

More notable examples are the 1994 Marriage Act, implemented by Chester's MP, Giles Brandreth. In any recorded location, this enabled people to marry, not just in registered offices or religious buildings. 

Another example is the Household Waste Recycling Act 2003, which puts an obligation on local authorities to compost waste.

10-minute rule

Backbenchers can also try to introduce a Bill through the '10-minute' rule, under which any MP can make a speech of up to 10 minutes supporting the introduction of new Legislation.

This method is rarely successful unless there is no opposition to the Bill. Still, some acts of Parliament have been introduced in this way, for example, the Bail (Amendment) Act 1993, which gave the prosecution the right to appeal against the granting of bail to a defendant. Members of the House of Lords can also introduce Private Members' Bills.

Public and Private Bills

A public bill includes public policy problems that will impact either the nation as a whole or a large part of it.

For instance, the Criminal Justice Act 2003, the Constitutional Reform Act 2005, the Legal Services Act 2007, and the Legislation on Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 are mostly Parliamenrty acts in this area. 

Not all Amendments, though, are intended to change the rules for the whole country; some are planned to pass a law that will only affect persons or businesses. 

For instance, the 1996 University College London Act was passed to merge the Royal Free Hospital School of Medicine, the Institute of Neurology, and the Institute of Child Health with University College.

Compare both for better marks. 

The Process in Parliament

4. The Bill would typically have to be approved by both Houses of Parliament in practice to become an Act of Parliament, and there is a long and complicated procedure in each House that must take place.

A Bill will begin either in the House of Commons or in the House of Lords, with the exception of the Finance Bills that must begin in the House of Commons. All Bills must go through the following stages:

Even though the first stage is the first reading, it is marked as 5 because it is a part of the legislative process too. Most people forget white paper and green papers role that is why it is mentioned as 5 to remember the other 4 too. They are IMPORTANT!

5. First Reading
This is a formal process in which Bill's name and key objectives are readout loud inn the Parliament. There is normally no question, and there is typically no vote

6. Second Reading
This is the central discussion on the Bill as a whole, where MPs address the values behind the Bill.

The argument concentrates instead of the smaller details on the fundamental principles. 

Those MPs who want to speak in the discussion will catch the eye of the Speaker as the Speaker is in charge of all proceedings, and no one can comment without being called by the Speaker. 

There is a vote at the end of this. The vote can be verbal: this is when the House Speaker tells the representatives as a whole if they support, and the participants yell out "Aye" or "No."

There is no need for a more formal vote if it is obvious that almost all representatives are unanimous, either for or against the Bill. 

If it is not possible to determine if more representatives are shouting' Aye' or' No,' a compulsory vote would take place in which the House members vote by entering the Chamber and then going back through one of the two separate doors on either side of the House. 

At each of these two voting doors, two' tellers' will be placed to make a list of Members voting on each side. Such tellers calculate the number of MPs who voted in favor and against the Bill and report such figures before the House members to the Speaker. 

There must, for example, be a majority in favor of the Bill to enable more advancement of the stages.

7. Committee Stage
At this point, a committee comprising between 16 and 50 MPs may conduct a detailed examination of each provision of the Act. 

This is typically done by what is considered a Standing Committee, which is a committee specifically created for that Legislation, as opposed to the name of the Committee.

Such a committee's representation is determined' considering the credentials of the elected members and the makeup of the Council.' Thus, while the government will have a majority, the opposition and minority parties are depicted in proportion to the number of seats in the House of Commons. 

Parliament members selected for each Standing Committee would usually be those with a particular interest in, or experience of, the subject matter of the Bill being discussed.

The entire House must remain in Committee on financing measures.

8. Report Stage
Proposed changes to multiple provisions in the Bill may have been voted on and passed at the committee stage, so this report stage is where all the committee reports on those provisions are reported back to the Parliament. 

(If there were no provisions in the Committee, there would be no report stage –then, the Bill would go straight to the Third Reading.) 

The amendments would be discussed in the House and proved or disproved. Additional charges may also be included.

The Report Stage was identified as' a valuable buffer against a small committee that amends a Bill against the House's wishes, and a critical forum for second thoughts.'

9. Third Reading
This stage is where the final vote for the Bill is taken. This is more like a formality since, at this late stage, it is impossible that a Bill that has gone through all the above phases would fail.

Moreover, there will only be a real more discussion on the Bill as a whole in the House of Commons if it is demanded by a minimum of six MPs. 

At this point, although amendments can sometimes be made in the House of Lords.

10. The House of Lords
If the Bill began life in the House of Commons, it is now transferred to the House of Lords, where it passes through the same five steps mentioned previously.

If the House of Lords introduces changes to the Bill, it will go back into the House of Commons to discuss any amendments made by the House of Commons.

If the bill starts in the House of Lords, it will be passed on to the House of Commons.

11. Royal Assent
The final stage is where the crown officially accepts the law, and then it becomes a parliamentary act. 

This is now a formality because, under the 1967 Royal Assent Act, the queen won't even have the Bills document to which she agrees; she'll only have the brief term. Although Queen Anne declined to consent to the Scottish Militia Act in 1707, the last time a queen agreed to vote.


1. First reading: Name and theme of the bill is introduced

2. Second reading: arguments are made on the bill

3. Committee stage: standing committee of the experts is made, and they make amendments to the bill

4. Report stage: If any amendments are made, then they are discussed in the report stage. If not, this stage will not take place.

5. Third reading: usually will pass easily, but the bill is discussed again.

The bill goes to the House of Lords. The same stages take place there, and then if they make amendments, it comes back to the House of Commons and foes through all these stages.

If not changes, then the royal assent takes place.

6. Royal assent: queen signs. Usually, she doesn’t even know what the bill is, but as per the conventions, she cannot refuse it. There are exceptions, however.

7. Commencement: the act is enacted on a date given in the act, some parts can be enacted of an act, or the relevant minister can enact the act whenever needed.

The Parliament Acts 1911 and 1949

The House of Lords' authority to reject a Bill is restricted by the 1911 and 1949 Parliament Amendments.

They require a Bill to become legislation even if it is disproved by the House of Lords so that the Legislation is reintroduced in Parliament's next session and meets all the steps there again.

The idea behind the Parliament Acts is that the House of Lords is not an elected government, and its role is to amend and contribute to the Legislation rather than to challenge the will of the House of Commons, directly chosen. 

In addition, when this method was used to circumvent the House of Lords after it decided against an Act, there were only four times.

The Parliament Acts have only been used on four occasions since 1949. These were for the following:

- War Crimes Act 1991

- European Parliamentary Elections Act 1999

- Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 2000

- Hunting Act of 2004.

These 4 acts are important. Remember them.

12. Commencement of an Act

After the Royal Assent, Parliament's Act would usually be enacted on the same day at midnight if no other date has been set. 

There has, indeed, been a rising trend not to enact Parliament's acts right away. 

Alternatively, the Act itself points out the day when it begins or transfers duty to the specific minister to set the date of enactment. 

In the latter situation, by giving a starting order, the minister can put the Act into effect. This can trigger confusion issues as it is difficult to find out which parts of the law have come into force. 

The 2003 Criminal Justice Act is a perfect example of Legislation in which the provisions were enacted in parts.

The 2003 Criminal Justice Act contained 339 sections and several schedules. The section for the enactment of the Act is s 336.

It said that parts of 11 sections (out of a total of 339) enter into force promptly after the Royal Assent was achieved by the Act: this was on November 19, 2003. 

Most of the provisions that came into force instantly were of a procedural nature: enabling, for example, the appropriate minister to establish rules ready for the enforcement of parts of the Act.

The enactment section than said that four weeks after the Royal Assent, ss 269–277 would come into force. 

These sections deal with the effects of life imprisonment and how long prison sentences have to be executed. It entered into force on December 18, 2003. The starting clause called for all other provisions to come into effect when an order was issued for the enactment by the appropriate minister. 

As a rule, in January 2004, several provisions came into force, others in February 2004, and others in April 2004, etc. Schedule 3, which included the shift of certain proceedings from the jurisdiction of the Magistrates to the Crown Court, finally came into force in 2012.

Several sections, or even a whole Act, might not become law ever. An instance of this is the 1928 Easter Act, which was meant to set the Easter Day date. 

While this Act passed all the requisite legislative stages and the Royal Assent was given, it never came into force.

One can see that it generally takes a few months to pass a bill with all these stages. There have been times when all sides have agreed that a new law is promptly needed, and a law was passed in less than 24 hours. This occurred in 1972 with the Northern Ireland Act.

There may be a date set for the commencement or the appropriate minister can enact on the date he sees fit. 

Example of an Act

It will be useful in paper 2. This part will not be assessed; however, you should know to make a clear distinction on how an act is read and how technical it is. If you have time, you can assess this part when critiquing the acts of parliament about the language used and how it is tough for the people to understand.

The Act's name is given under the Royal Coat of Arms instantly. 1996 CHAPTER 19' under the name implies that it was the 19th Act to be enacted in 1996.

A short statement or preamble on the intent of the Act occurs next. Then there is a formal declaration stating that both Houses of Parliament have approved the Act and have obtained the Royal Assent. 

This is included in both Acts. The rest of the Act, laid out in part, follows after this; this is an exceptionally short act as it has just three parts.

Section 1 abolishes the law of' year and day.' Note in those terms, and the Act refers to it; because the rule was part of common law and was never published in any statute. 

Section 2 determines when the Attorney General's approval is necessary before a trial can begin.

The last clause provides the term by which the Act can be referred, and it also notes that the Act does not refer to situations in which the events that led to death occurred prior to the passage of the Act.

Section 3 deals with the introduction of the Act, which sets the starting date for s 2 at two months following the passage of the Act.

Although s 1 is not specifically mentioned, this section applies to the normal rule that a statute comes into effect at midnight of the day on which it receives the Royal Assent.

Criticisms of the Legislative Process

There are many complaints about the legislative process. In addition, the Renton Committee on the Preparation of Legislation, which published in 1975, found out that there had been opposition for decades. 

Citing Edward VI as stating more than 400 years ago:' I would like... the unnecessary and cumbersome laws to be put together in one number, and made more clear and concise, in order for men to understand them better.' 

- The Renton Committee said there were four main categories of complaint:

- In many acts, the vocabulary used was vague and ambiguous.

- Acts were 'over-elaborate' as draftsmen were trying to take care of every risk. 

- Despite parts seeming to be out of order, the internal structure of many Acts became illogical, making it harder for people to find appropriate sections

-   There was a lack of a clear link between Acts, so locating all the Acts on a given subject was not easy. 

- Furthermore, the repeated custom of modifying small parts of one Act while introducing another has made it more difficult to figure out what the Legislation was.

Eighty-one proposals were provided by the Committee, but only about half of them were put into effect.

Very important for the analysis. 

Lack of Accessibility

Preferably, land laws should be readily available to people, but there are a few major issues that cause complexities not only for ordinary citizens but also for attorneys and even for the Lord Chancellor in some situations! 

As already stated, it is difficult to find out which actions have been put into action and/or which parts.

An indication of difficulties of understanding what provisions are in place is the 2003 Criminal Justice Act, which has 339 parts with several plans. When the Royal Assent was granted, just 11 pieces came into force.

Four weeks after the Royal Assent, some more entered into force. 

Most of the other 300-plus pieces over a number of years or not at all have been put into effect many times.

In actuality, s 43 was never managed to bring into effect when it came to keeping fraud trials without a jury and was repealed in 2012.

When provisions come into force at different points in time, it's hard to know what the Statute is. It prohibits easy access to the rules.

Internet Research

Consider the section or timetable for the outset in a current Parliament Act. This can be done by looking at for a printed copy of a statute in a library or on the Internet. Usually, there is a list of provisions at the beginning of an act.

Other Problems

Most laws are modified by subsequent legislation in order to make sense of rules, and it is necessary to read two or more actions together at times.

Delegated laws may also apply to the law in the context of legislative instruments. All of this makes it more difficult to find the Legislation that is currently in place.

The vocabulary used in Acts is often not clearly understood, and this means, apart from the usual challenges, other cases go to court as well. 

In addition, nearly 75 percent of cases considered each year by the House of Lords in its judicial role include disagreements over the application of laws.

In 1992, under Lord Rippon, the work of a Hansard Society Commission outlined five concepts of democratic law-making. These are the following:

- Laws are drawn up to help the people, and thus all citizens should be engaged in the legislative process as completely and freely as possible

- Statute law must be steeped in parliamentary authority and deeply subject to democratic examination.

- The law of the Act should be as safe and clear as practicable.

- The law or the Statute must be as readily accessible as possible.

- It is just as necessary to get the law right as to get it enacted quickly.

If these recommendations were to be implemented, the consistency of the statute book would be increased.

Furthermore, it is important to use codification and/or unification to make the law more available.

Under this framework, all the law on one topic could be combined into one parliamentary Act, rendering it both more readily available and, hopefully, more understandable.

Parliamentary Sovereignty

Parliamentary law is supreme in England and Wales over other types of rule. It ensures that any tradition, legal practice, existing law, or Parliament's prior Act can be absolutely overruled by a Parliament Act.

This is also alluded to as the dominance of Parliament.

The principle of parliamentary sovereignty is based on the idea of representative governance. 

In the constituency, a Member of Parliament is chosen by the people, so that in principle, on account of those constituents, the MP takes part in the legislative process.

This view, though, is very simplified since:

- MPs generally vote on party lines instead of as their voters desire.

- Most MPs are chosen by a very narrow majority, and if there were many contestants in the election, it would seem that only about 30% or even less of the citizens actually voted for the MP.

- Parliamentary elections only have to be conducted once every five years in order not to automatically remove an MP who votes against the interests of his constituents.

Furthermore, the basic idea of democracy lacks because much of the legislative drafting is performed by non-elected civil servants. Finally, the argument is that the House of Lords is not an elected body.

Should be the first thing you write in your paper. 

Definition of Parliamentary Supremacy

In the 19th century, Dicey provided the most commonly accepted concept of parliamentary supremacy three main points he made:

Parliament may legislate on any subject.

No parliament can be bound by any prior parliament, and no parliament can pass any law that binds a later parliament.

No other party is allowed to circumvent or set aside a legislative act.

Legislating On Any Subject Matter

There are no restrictions on what laws can be made by Parliament. It can make whatever law it wants. Parliament has changed the policy on who should achieve success to the throne, for instance, in the past. 

That was in 1700 after Parliament enacted the Settlement Act specifying this King James II's offspring (who were the monarchy's direct line) could not ascend to the throne.

Parliament will alter its own forces as well. 

This did so with the 1911 and 1949 Parliament Amendments, which imposed restrictions on the House of Lords' power to block a bill by voting against it

Cannot Bind the Successor

Any new Parliament must be free to make or amend the laws it needs. Parliament can not be bound by an earlier parliamentary law and can repeal any earlier parliamentary act.

Nevertheless, there are some rules that have become such an integral part of the British system that they can not be removed in a realistic way. 

The Settlement Act, for example, altered the line of succession to the throne in 1700. It influenced who had the privilege to be king or queen.

Practically speaking, this can not be abolished now after 300 years. There are other new limitations that Parliament has self-imposed.

Cannot Be Overruled By Others

The provision remains preserved even if Parliament's Statute could have been repealed due to incorrect knowledge. 

British Railways Board v Pickin (1974) illustrated this. Parliament passed a secret legislative measure, the British Railways Measure of 1968. Pickin challenged the Act on the grounds that Parliament had been fraudulently covered up by the British Railways Board. 

This alleged fraud has driven Parliament to enact the Act that stripped Pickin of his land or property rights. 

The case was thrown out because after it was enacted, no judge is allowed to go after a statute. An Act of Parliament can not be contested even if bribery has happened.

Limitations on Parliamentary Sovereignty

There are now certain limits on the parliamentary sovereignty, but prior Parliaments have self-imposed all these restrictions. The key restrictions are:

- Membership of the European Union

- The effect of the Human Rights Act 1998.

Membership of the European Union

In 1973, the UK entered the European Union. Parliament adopted the 1972 European Communities Act to become a participant. 

While it is possible in theory for a later parliament to pass a law turning away from the European Union as the Parliament passed that Act, political reality means that this is highly unlikely. 

EU membership influences our Legislation and political system to a great extent. (such as the HRA 1998 which requires the Parliament to read the UK law "inline" with the EU law)

EU membership means that EU legislation takes precedence over English law even where English law has been passed in accordance with relevant EU legislation. 

This was illustrated by the 1988 Merchant Shipping Act, which defined regulations for who could own or control UK-registered fishing boats. 

The Act stated that 75% of managers and shareholders must be British. 

The European Court of Justice found that this was contradictory to EU law, which allows citizens of all Member States to operate in the other Member States.

As far as other EU citizens were affected, the 1988 Merchant Shipping Act could not be successful.

Human Rights Act of 1998

It notes that all Parliament's activities must be consistent with the European Human Rights Convention. Legislation can be questioned on the basis that it is not in compliance with the Convention.

The courts have the authority to declare an act inconsistent with the Convention under s 4 of the Human Rights Act.

The first incompatibility argument was in H v Mental Health Review Tribunal (2001), where an individual asked for parole. 

The 1983 Mental Health Act put the patient's burden of proof to prove that he should be published. Human rights indicated that defending the prolonged treatment of such an individual should be up to the state. 

The court made a statement that human rights were not compatible with the law. The government changed the law after this announcement of incompatibility.

A statement of incompatibility does not, therefore, means that the government will amend the law. When Parliament wants, it will also be able to pass a new Act that violates the European Convention on Human Rights.

Sample question: Analyse the extent to which Parliament is supreme.

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