United Kingdom Constitution

Factbook > Countries > United Kingdom > Government

Constitution: history: unwritten; partly statutes, partly common law and practice
amendments: proposed as a “bill” for an “Act of Parliament” by the government, by the House of Commons, or by the House of Lords; passage requires agreement by both houses and by the monarch (Royal Assent); note - recent additions include the Human Rights Act of 1998, the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010, the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act 2011, the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011, and the House of Lords (Expulsion and Suspension) Act 2015 (2016)

Definition: This entry provides information on a country’s constitution and includes two subfields, history and amendments. The history subfield includes the dates of previous constitutions and the main steps and dates in formulating and implementing the latest constitution. For countries with 1-3 previous constitutions, the years are listed; for those with 4-9 previous, the entry is listed as “several previous,” and for those with 10 or more, the entry is “many previous.” The amendments subfield summarizes the process of amending a country’s constitution – from proposal through passage – and the dates of amendments, which are treated in the same manner as the constitution dates.

The main steps in creating a constitution and amending it usually include the following steps: proposal, drafting, legislative and/or executive branch review and approval, public referendum, and entry into law. In many countries this process is lengthy. Terms commonly used to describe constitutional changes are “amended,” “revised,” or “reformed.” In countries such as South Korea and Turkmenistan, sources differ as to whether changes are stated as new constitutions or are amendments/revisions to existing ones.

A few countries including Canada, Israel, and the UK have no single constitution document, but have various written and unwritten acts, statutes, common laws, and practices that, when taken together, describe a body of fundamental principles or established precedents as to how their countries are governed. Some special regions (Hong Kong, Macau) and countries (Oman, Saudi Arabia) use the term “basic law” instead of constitution.

A number of self-governing dependencies and territories such as the Cayman Islands, Bermuda, and Gibraltar (UK), Greenland and Faroe Islands (Denmark), Aruba, Curacao, and Sint Maarten (Netherlands), and Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands (US) have their own constitutions.

Source: CIA World Factbook - This page was last updated on January 20, 2018

© 2018 IndexMundi. All rights reserved.