The Sovereignity Of Parliment

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The Sovereignity of Parliment

The Sovereignity of Parliment

The doctrine of Parliamentary Supremacy states that an outgoing Parliament does not possess the power to bind a successive Parliament. This idea has always been highly challenged. The passage of the Statute of Westminster in 1931; as mentioned in the earlier discussion on the nature of the concept, posed a challenge to the doctrine of implied repeal. Important questions arose concerning the consequences of the Statute of Westminster's enactment; how would it effect the supremacy of the United Kingdom Parliament? Was its purpose to reduce it and if not did this occur anyway? (Wade 2007 Pp. 44) Did the supremacy of the United Kingdom Parliament continue in relation to the countries who were members of the Commonwealth? The Statute of Westminster gave reason to question whether the supremacy of the United Kingdom Parliament was in fact limitless or not, and as such this should be borne in mind when considering the text below.

Can Parliament repeal the Statute of Westminster?

Section 4 of the Statute is significant to any discussion regarding the impact on the power possessed by the UK Parliament.

Section 4 of the Statute declared: “No Act of Parliament of the United Kingdom passed after the commencement of this Act shall extend or be deemed to extend, to a Dominion as part of the law of that Dominion, unless it is expressly declared in that Act that that Dominion has requested, and consented to, the enactment thereof.

In noting the terms of section 4, one should question whether the UK Parliament would be able to amend or even repeal the Statute of Westminster. The issue is whether Parliament had placed a limitation upon their sovereignty. The statutes impact on a successive Parliaments ability to exercise the doctrine of implied repeal is questionable.

The role of Convention

The operation of convention should be taken into consideration at this point because before the enactment of the Statute of Westminster, it had become conventional practice of the United Kingdom Parliament not to pass legislation extending to a Dominion, except at the request of the Dominion concerned. Section 4 of the Statute of Westminster simply codified this convention, which further supports the notion that it would be very unlikely that Parliament would be able to repeal this section in practice.

The different historical and legal opinions

In order attempting to answer the difficult question of whether the Statute of Westminster actually reduced Parliaments supremacy, and if Parliament would be able to repeal or amend it, several opinions of different historians can be examined.

AV Dicey

Dicey's theory about Parliamentary supremacy has always been the most established. In The Changing Constitution written by Jowell and Oliver, it was said that “Dicey's word has in some respects become the only written constitution we have.”. According to Dicey's understanding of Parliamentary supremacy (also called the “continuing theory”) “Parliament may not bind its successors” or in other words each Parliament is ...