This book is concerned with the organisation, powers and accountability of government in the British constitution. It has been written from a lawyer’s perspective, modified by an awareness that the British constitution is far from being exclusively the handiwork of lawyers. Judges and other practitioners of the discipline of law have made a notable contribution to it, but so have political actors, controversialists of many hues, party organisations, peers, rebels in and out of Parliament and the legions of special interests. Yet lawyers sometimes pretend that the constitution is theirs, teaching and writing about it in myopic isolation.
We have written this book in the conviction that the law student will arrive at an incomplete and fragmentary view of the constitution unless encouraged to take account of ideas, practices and relationships that occur outside the strict limits of the law of the constitution. The law student has much to learn from writers and practitioners in politics, government and public administration, just as students of these subjects can enrich their studies by learning something of the values, constraints and possibilities of the law. If asked a question, say, about the power of Parliament, a lawyer and a political scientist may give very different answers. But they are describing the same institution, and for a full understanding of its place in the constitution each of them needs to take the other’s perspective into account.