4.1.1 Parliamentary Sovereignty - Introduction

Welcome to the fourth topic in this module guide - Parliamentary Sovereignty! Parliamentary Sovereignty is a body of rules that govern the legislative competence of Parliament and how courts are to deal with Acts if Parliament.  At the end of this section, you should have a general understanding of how Parliamentary Sovereignty is theorised, what Parliament’s legislative competence is and how Parliamentary Sovereignty is impacted by the Human Rights Act 1998.

This section begins by introducing Parliamentary Sovereignty and outlining the history of its conception. It then explores some sources of Parliamentary Sovereignty, theories and principles. The section then goes on to consider how the Human Rights Act 1998 affects Parliamentary Sovereignty and also how European Law impacts supremacy. The section finally discusses how EU limits Parliamentary supremacy and the effect of the European Communities Act 1972 (EC Act) that gives precedence to EU law above UK law.

Goals for this section:

  • To understand the history and the concept of Parliamentary Supremacy.
  • To appreciate the application of the different theories that relate to Parliamentary Sovereignty.

Objectives for this section:

  • To appreciate how Parliamentary Sovereignty developed throughout history, and how theories by academics and commentators have contributed to its definition and description.
  • To evaluate how the Parliamentary Sovereignty is impacted by the Human Rights Act 1998.
  • To be able to analyse how EU law affects Parliamentary Sovereignty and to what extent it limits the powers of Parliament.

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Hands on Examples