The Codes of the Constitution

The Codes of the Constitution

by Andrew Blick


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This book describes an astounding feat of constitutional writing and publication. For a number of decades, officials working across different branches of the United Kingdom (UK) constitution have been engaged in a series of separate projects. Taken in their totality, they amount to a vast enterprise. Yet, until now, no-one has fully recognised or critically analysed what has taken place. There has been a proliferation in the UK of publicly available codes, normally lacking a basis in statute, providing official accounts of a variety of different features of UK constitutional rules and principles. They cover institutions ranging from the Cabinet to the Civil Service to the judiciary, and relationships between entities such as central government and the devolved executives; and between the UK executive and the Westminster Parliament. Among them are prominent texts such as the Ministerial Code, the Cabinet Manual, the Guide to Judicial Conduct and the devolution Memorandum of Understanding - as well as more obscure documents that nonetheless contain important stipulations regarding the operation of the system. Similar developments have taken place in countries including Australia, Canada and New Zealand. The author explores the history of this phenomenon in the UK, how it functions today here and elsewhere in the Commonwealth, and its implications for the UK constitution.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781509926817
Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic
Publication date: 01/24/2019
Series: Hart Studies in Constitutional Law Series
Pages: 272
Product dimensions: 6.14(w) x 9.21(h) x 0.57(d)

About the Author

Andrew Blick is Lecturer in Politics and Contemporary History at King's College London.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements vii

Introduction 1

Part 1 The Codification Phenomenon

1 Historic Origins of Codification 15

I Precursors to Codification 16

II The Civil Service and Codification 19

III Questions of Procedure for Ministers 23

IV The Precedent Book 27

V Codification and Public Money 33

VI Conclusion 37

2 Codification Since 1979 39

I Codification in the Public Domain 39

A The Barnett Formula 39

B The Civil Service Code 41

C The Osmotherly Rules 44

II Codification from the 1990s 49

A The Ministerial Code 51

B Codification after Major 53

III Codification Beyond the Executive 55

IV The Limits to Codification 59

A The Central-Local Concordat 59

B Codification and Consultation 65

V The Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010 69

VI The Cabinet Manual 70

VII Conclusion 73

3 Codification in Perspective 75

I Australia 75

II Canada: Accountable Government 79

III The New Zealand Cabinet Manual 87

IV Conclusion 100

4 The Impact of Codification 103

I Codification and Conventions 106

II Codification and Change 108

III Process and Ownership 113

Part 2 The Content of Codes

5 The Office of Prime Minister 119

I Authority and Appointment 119

II Portfolio and Functions 123

III Conclusion 131

6 The Cabinet and Collective Government 133

I Cabinet and the Ministerial Code 134

II Cabinet and The Cabinet Manual 135

III Cabinet Committees 138

IV The Work of the Cabinet System 141

V Cabinet Procedure 143

VI Conclusion 148

7 The Executive: Ministers, Departments and the Civil Service 151

I Ministers and Departments 151

II The Civil Service 157

A Special Advisers 164

B Election Guidance 169

III Conclusion 171

8 Parliament and Executive Accountability 173

I Internal Arrangements 174

II Executive-Parliament Relations 177

III Parliamentary Committees and Government Accountability 181

IV Parliament and Public Money 184

V Conclusion 189

9 General Elections and the Formation of Governments 191

I Elections and Government Business 192

II Prime Ministers and Government Formation 198

III Confidence 201

IV Parliaments with No Overall Majority in the House of Commons 203

V The Monarchy and Elections 204

VI Conclusion 206

10 Devolved and Local Government 207

I The Cabinet Manual and Territorial Governance 207

II Devolution and the Memorandum of Understanding 210

III Conclusion 215

11 Codification and the Rule of Law 217

I The Judicial Perspective 218

II The Rule of Law and the Executive 220

III The Parliamentary Perspective 228

IV Conclusion 230

Conclusion 231

I Classifying Codification 233

A Content 233

B Process 234

C Availability 234

D Audience 234

E Purpose 235

F Issuing Power 236

II The Historic Emergence of Codification 236

III The Development of Codification 237

IV Possible Outcomes of Codification 241

Appendix 245

Index 249

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