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Chapter

Cover Administrative Law

1. Administration and the principles of the constitution  

Administrative law includes a complex variety of processes and doctrines that confer and control public power. This chapter outlines the underlying principles of administrative law. Topics discussed include the core principle of administrative law: opposition to arbitrary use of power. That principle is introduced through the story of habeas corpus from the middle ages to the twenty-first century. The constitutional principles of administrative law also include parliamentary sovereignty, the separation of powers, the rule of law, comity among constitutional authorities, accountability, and a newly emerging principle of open government. The chapter shows how the common law and legislation can achieve adherence to these principles of administrative law.

Chapter

Cover Public Law Directions

11. The key functions of Parliament  

This chapter identifies Parliament’s primary functions of making law and scrutinising government action. Parliament’s scrutiny of government has been defined as ‘the process of examining expenditure, administration, and policy in detail, on the public record, requiring the government of the day to explain itself to parliamentarians as representatives of the citizen and the taxpayer, and to justify its actions’. In the absence of a codified constitution and entrenched limits on executive power, the requirement for the government to answer to Parliament for its actions acts as a check and control. The chapter also considers the legislative process, particularly legislative scrutiny. Secondary legislation made by the government can often be subject to much less scrutiny and debate than primary legislation, and sometimes none at all. These scrutiny gaps increase the risk of arbitrary law-making and ‘governing from the shadows’, again raising rule of law concerns.