Previous: Constitutions

Public powers are divided in the UK, into the legislature, the executive and the judiciary. These are the law making, law implementing and law adjudicating bodies respectively. The idea of separating powers comes about through the preservation of democracy and has been altered regularly within the past 3 centuries.

Historic (non) separation of powers

Courtesy of the Tudor monarchs, prior to 1700, power was extensively given to the executive; the monarchs themselves. The monarchs could interfere all 3 divisions of power. In 1689, the Bill of Rights severely limited the executive’s powers such that the Act of Settlement 1700 could start the separation.

Act of Settlement 1700

The act outlined the succession to the crown, requiring, inter alia, that monarchs must be of the Church of England Christian faith and could not pardon members of the Commons against impeachment claims.

R v Home Secretary ex parte Fire Brigades’ Union [1995]

This case prevented the executive acting contrary to the legislature.

M v Home Office [1994]

This case showed that an injunction could be ordered against a minister for ignoring a judicial review report.

Constitutional Reform Act 2005

The act ensured the independence of the judiciary. It set up the Supreme Court, moving the judicial law lords away from the legislative House of Lords. The Act also established a judicial appointments commission and a judicial appointments and conduct ombudsman.

Advantages of the separation of powers

Ensuring separation between powers opposes the concentration of power in a single party, which would threaten democracy...

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