Parliamentary Sovereignty

Parliamentary Sovereignty: The Parliament is the law making body of the state. The doctrine of parliamentary sovereignty is a principle of the British unwritten constitution, it postulate the notion that parliament (in the British sense) has absolute supremacy over and above all other organs within the country.

According to Sir Erskine May in his view about parliamentary supremacy in UK said:
β€œThe constitution has assigned no limit to parliament over all matters and persons within its jurisdiction. A law may be unjust or contrary to the principle of government, parliament is not controlled in its discretion, and if it errs, its errors can only be corrected by itself”.

In all of the British constitutional history several acts of parliament were made to fortify the doctrine of parliamentary sovereignty e.g. Act of Union 1707, Unified both the English and Scottish Parliament into a single legislative body similarly the Act of union 1800, further unified the parliament of the Great Britain and Ireland into a single legislative organ known as the parliament of the United Kingdom.

The enactment of the parliament Act of 1911, this particular Act abolished the powers of the British House of Lords to Veto bill that have been validly passed by the British House of Commons.
β€œIn this regard Prof Owen Hood Philips said:
β€œThe most important character in the British constitutional law is the legislative supremacy of the United Kingdom parliament, positively it means that it has powers to legally make any law whatsoever; Negatively, it means that there is no person or organ whose legislative power competes or overrides it.

Limitations of the Doctrine – Parliamentary Sovereignty

  1. Parliament cannot enact laws that will derogate it sovereignty.
  2. Parliament cannot enact laws that will bind his successors
  3. The doctrine of mandate (sovereignty of the people).
  4. Devolution of powers: in England the various regions (Wales, Scot land, Northern Ireland) has been clamoring for devolution of powers on other to increase the scope of the legislative competence of their regional parliament. If this is carried through, it will weaken the powers of the British Parliament.
  5. The entry of the United kingdom into the European Economic Community in 1912 by virtue of the European Act of the same year.
  6. The British Human Right Act 1998 this Act was made pursuant to European Human Right Convention.
    See the case of: Edinburgh & Dalkeith Railway V. Wauchop, for parliamentary supremacy and; Ellen Street Estate Limited V. Minister of Health. Adole V. Okai.

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