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Does Britain need a written constitution When questioning Britains current constitution it is first necessary to define what a constitution is and more importantly what the British constitution consists of A constitution is broadly described as a set of rules that seek to establish the duties powers and functions of the various institutions of government regulate the relationship between them and define the relationship between the state and the individual1 More narrowly the term constitution refers to a single document a written constitution the aim of which is to codify major constitutional provisions The broader description applies to Britain and its uncodified constitution Britain is often mistakenly referred to as having an unwritten constitution which is misleading as although it is not drawn up in a single codified document much of it does exist in written form as acts of parliament According to HM Stationary Office there are 170 combined acts of parliament and any number of these acts may be interpreted by the individual as being part of Britains constitution2 Britains constitution is ever changing and one of the ways in which Britain is often distinguished from other modern countries is by the slow and steady evolutionary process by which she has achieved modernisation3 This applies also to the modernisation of the constitution and can be seen as a reason against a codified constitution Britains constitution unlike that of the USA is not written in a single document requiring formal amendment Without these constraints Britain has been able to keep up with the times and has a considerable capacity for adapting her old institutions to meet new requirements For example the Monarchy and House of Lords are both the product of a gradual adaptation of ancient bodies to meet the new political needs that have emerged from changing social and economic conditions4The effectiveness of Britain as a country without a written constitution compares favourably to the US where the Bill of Rights
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