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Chapter

Cover Constitutional and Administrative Law

10. Constitutional conventions  

After the legal sources of the UK constitution considered in previous chapters, this chapter turns its attention to an important non-legal source of the UK constitution: its constitutional conventions. It will be shown that constitutional conventions relate to practical and significant political matters which allow the UK constitution to function. They also represent a means by which the executive branch can be made accountable for its actions. The discussion explores the nature of constitutional conventions, gives examples of constitutional conventions, such as ministerial responsibility, enforcing conventions, the Cabinet Manual, and investigates the courts and conventions. Codification of conventions and the importance of conventions in relation to devolution is also discussed.

Chapter

Cover Essential Cases: Public Law

Attorney General v Jonathan Cape Ltd [1976] QB 752, High Court (Queen’s Bench Division)  

Essential Cases: Public Law provides a bridge between course textbooks and key case judgments. This case document summarizes the facts and decision in Attorney General v Jonathan Cape Ltd [1976] QB 752, before the High Court (Queen’s Bench Division). This case concerns the constitutional convention of collective Cabinet responsibility which requires, inter alia, that Cabinet discussions remain secret, whether the publication of a diary detailing Cabinet discussions breached the convention, and what the constitutional consequences of any breach were. The document also includes supporting commentary and questions from author Thomas Webb.

Chapter

Cover Essential Cases: Public Law

Attorney General v Jonathan Cape Ltd [1976] QB 752, High Court (Queen’s Bench Division)  

Essential Cases: Public Law provides a bridge between course textbooks and key case judgments. This case document summarizes the facts and decision in Attorney General v Jonathan Cape Ltd [1976] QB 752, before the High Court (Queen’s Bench Division). This case concerns the constitutional convention of collective Cabinet responsibility which requires, inter alia, that Cabinet discussions remain secret, whether the publication of a diary detailing Cabinet discussions breached the convention, and what the constitutional consequences of any breach were. The document also includes supporting commentary and questions from author Thomas Webb.

Chapter

Cover Concentrate Questions and Answers Public Law

3. Prime Minister and Cabinet  

The Q&A series offers the best preparation for tackling exam questions. Each chapter includes typical questions, diagram problem and essay answer plans, suggested answers, notes of caution, tips on obtaining extra marks, the key debates on each topic, and suggestions on further reading. This chapter presents issues relating to the Prime Minister and the Cabinet. The sample questions given here deal with issues such as the extent to which the UK has moved from a system of Cabinet government to a system of Prime Ministerial government; collective ministerial responsibility; and how the convention of individual ministerial responsibility operates in relation to departmental error.

Chapter

Cover Public Law

7. Central government  

This chapter examines the structure and role of central government, with the latter part focusing on the key constitutional requirement that the government is accountable to the people through Parliament, reflecting the democratic nature of the constitution. The phrase ‘central government’ refers to the Prime Minister, Cabinet, ministers, government departments, and civil servants. Informally, these parts of central government are often referred to as ‘Whitehall’, reflecting how most government departments and the Prime Minister are based around that area of central London close to Westminster. A more constitutionally appropriate phrase is the ‘executive’. However, this term can also be taken to mean other elements which include the governments of Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales, as well as local government and organizations such as the police.

Chapter

Cover Public Law Concentrate

8. The executiveCentral, devolved, and local government  

Each Concentrate revision guide is packed with essential information, key cases, revision tips, exam Q&As, and more. Concentrates show you what to expect in a law exam, what examiners are looking for, and how to achieve extra marks. This chapter discusses the executive branch of government. The executive consists of the reigning monarch who is legally the head of state, the Prime Minister, Cabinet, unanimity of advice and collective cabinet responsibility; Secretaries of State, Ministers of the Crown, departments of state, non-departmental public bodies, the civil service, the Civil Service Commission, parliamentary accountability, the Ministerial Code, the seven principles of public life, legal accountability, devolved administrative organizations in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, and London, local authorities, the police, and the armed forces, the effect of the Localism Act 2011, the Scotland Acts 1998, 2012, 2014, and 2016, the Cities and Devolution Act 2016, and the Wales Act 2017. This chapter also discusses the relevant provisions of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 and the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation and Exercise of Functions) Act 2018.