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Chapter

Cover Public Law

10. Good Governance—An Introduction  

This chapter explains the meaning of good governance and why it is important to uphold the standards of good governance, first discussing the standards of good governance, which include governing in the public interest; governing transparently; respecting the dignity, rights, and interests of individuals; and governing competently. It then turns to the concept and types of accountability, covering political accountability, legal accountability, and administrative accountability and audit.

Chapter

Cover Public Law

8. Devolution and The Territorial Constitution  

This chapter focuses on the UK’s territorial constitution, that is, the governance arrangements that result in power being dispersed rather than concentrated in a single set of national institutions. Devolution involved creating new governments in Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales, and investing them with powers that were previously exercised at a UK level. Devolution in the UK is therefore intended to be part of the answer to questions that must be confronted in all political systems: where should governmental power lie? And at what level should laws be enacted and the business of government transacted? Local government plays a key role in decision-making, policy formulation, and the delivery of public services across a wide range of areas, including education, housing, personal social services, transport, and planning control.

Chapter

Cover Constitutional Law, Administrative Law, and Human Rights

1. Defining the Constitution?  

This chapter identifies evaluative criteria that readers may wish to keep in mind when considering the description and analysis of the United Kingdom’s current constitutional arrangements presented in the rest of the book. The chapter begins by exploring what we might regard from a contemporary perspective as the essential features of the governmental systems adopted in a ‘democratic’ state. In order to illustrate the very contested nature of this concept of ‘democracy’, the chapter presents and analyses several hypothetical examples of what we might (or might not) regard as acceptable forms of governance, and explores the the notion of a country’s constitution being properly described as as a social and political contract formulated by its citizens. The chapter concludes by examining briefly the solutions adopted by the American revolutionaries to resolve the constitutional difficulties they faced when the United States became an independent country.

Chapter

Cover Public Law Directions

8. Rule of law  

This chapter assesses the rule of law. The rule of law is a constitutional value or principle which measures good governance, fair law-making, and applying law in a just way. It acts as a protecting mechanism by preventing state officials from acting unfairly, unlawfully, arbitrarily, or oppressively. These are also key terms in judicial review. The rule of law is also regarded as an external measure for what a state does; if the rule of law breaks down in a state, it will fail to function in an internationally acceptable way. Ultimately, the core meaning of the rule of law is that the law binds everyone. This includes those in government, who must obey the law. Moreover, any action taken by the government must be authorised by law, that is, government needs lawful authority to act.