The ensure that too much power is not

The separation of
powers is a principle of the United Kingdom’s unwritten constitution, which
corroborates that different roles should function independently and that no
individual or group should have complete power. These powers are usually separated
into three institutions. The legislative which refers to parliament bodies whom
make the laws, the executive, which includes government ministers and civil
servants, are responsible for enforcing the law, and the judiciary where the
law is then interpreted and applied in courts by judges. The main function of
this concept is to protect individual liberty and ensure that too much power is
not concentrated into the hands of one institution and branch.1 In
its original form, the idea of separation of powers indicates that these three
roles should not overlap, and that no two functions should be carried out by
the same institution to avoid one authority dominating the UK government. This essay
will look at the extent to which the system is followed, and assess whether it is
the guiding principle to the United Kingdom’s constitutional arrangements.


There is controversy
in the UK over the model for the governance of a state as there are many circumstances
where the requirements of this concept are not properly followed. Overlaps
between different institutions are often made causing disagreements over how
important the separation of powers actually are in the UK. For instance, Neil
Parpworth argues “A separation of powers in the purest sense is not, and has
never been, a feature of the UK constitution.”2
This argument is easy to comprehend since it is clear there is a relationship
between each institution because of the parliamentary democracy that the UK
system upholds, causing there to be no proper separation between parliament and
government, which proves it is not a concept that the UK fully adheres to. It
is believed that not following a strict system and not having separation in the
UK but in fact allowing these overlaps, enables for a proper cooperation
between each institution and thus without this there would complete segregation
in the constitution. Saunders backs up this argument and states “a complete
separation of powers is possible neither in theory nor in practice”.3
Therefore, looking at this arguments made, it would be contradictory to suggest
that it is the main and guiding principle of the UK’s constitutional

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However, the idea of a
separating powers is to prevent sovereignty in one of the three institutions. If
too much power was focused on one institution instead of a proper separation
then this would be undemocratic, especially considering that for example
members of the judiciary are not voted in by public domain. Professor Eric Barendt
and Baron Montesquieu state that “if too much of one kind of power is
concentrated in one institution, there is more of a risk of that power being
abused to reduce freedom”,4
giving clear justification to the purpose of the concept. In the UK, it must be
considered that government and parliament have tried to incorporate some
concepts of separation of powers as they are still separate and independent
establishments, regardless of being entwined in some ways. They formed from
distinct historical origins and each is continually following its own