Tuesday, 8 May 2007

A Robust Constitution?

Some time ago a post on Samizdata.net by Perry de Havilland entitled What now, England? prompted a discussion on what would constitute an ideal or, “wish list”, British constitution.

Having taken into account many comments and with acknowledgements to Mandrill, Tim C, Mark E, Jim, Freeman, Nick G, RC Dean, Paul Marks Pietr, Cat, Sunfish, Nicholas Gray and the US constitution, here is a distillation/consensus of the comments.

It is still a work in progress, so feel free to offer any sensible comments, or suggestions, including the order of importance of the clauses. It is really a means to make one consider exactly what one considers the ideal role of government and the citizen, what rights they both need and the duties they owe.


1. The powers not delegated to the State by the Constitution are reserved to the people. The State shall make no law amending this except by the will of the people expressed in a full referendum .

2. The state shall enter into no treaty, or agreement with any individual, group or state, that in any way abrogates or diminishes the sole sovereignty, or power, of the people of the United Kingdom, save with the full agreement of the people as expressed in a full referendum.
Any such agreement must be subject to a full referendum to reaffirm , or revoke any such treaty, or agreement. At any time on a Petition signed by over 25% of the eligible citizens, or in any case within 14 years of the agreement.

3. The State shall make no law concerning the establishment, elevation or imposition of any religion, or prohibiting the free peaceable exercise of religion. No person or persons shall have the right to impose any religion on any person by means of force or threat.

4. The State shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech, including the written word, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

5. The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated. No warrants shall be issued, except on probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and precisely specifying the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
The State shall have a duty and the power to enforce this by appropriate legislation.

6. All persons born, or naturalized, in the United Kingdom, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United Kingdom.
The State shall make no law, or enforce any law, which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the State. Nor shall it deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within it’s jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

7. Neither slavery, nor any form of involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime where the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United Kingdom, or any place subject to it’s jurisdiction.
The State shall have a duty and the power to enforce this by appropriate legislation.

8. The right of citizens who are over 21 to vote shall not be denied, or abridged by the Government or by any Local authority on account of race, creed, colour or sex. This right shall not be denied, or abridged, by reason of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax.
The State shall have a duty and the power to enforce this by appropriate legislation.

9. The State shall make no law interfering with the right of any individual, groups, or companies, to freely associate, or make agreements and contracts together, excepting where said are contrary to, or bound by the constitution of the United Kingdom.

10 The State shall make no law in separation or isolation or special case . in other words, parliament shall be of the people, not of itself.

11.The State make no law which infringes on the rights of all citizens to bare arms in personal and collective defence of the constitution and against enemies both internal and external. Towards this end any honest citizen of voting age and sound mind has a right to take training, obtain a licence of competence to bare arms and subsequently to bare arms. Citizens shall have a right to form and join licensed militia.
The State shall have a duty and the power to enforce this by appropriate legislation.

12. The citizen has an absolute right to protect their life family and property, also lives and property for which they may be responsible, against unlawful attack. The citizen may use reasonable force, up to and including deadly force, if necessary, in order to exercise that right.
This right shall only be bound by the constitution of the United Kingdom. The State, or any other governing authority, shall enact no law, and enforce no law, which shall abridge, abrogate, or diminish that right.

13. The citizen shall have a right to pursue health, wealth, happiness, associate and conduct their lives however they choose, provided it is within the constitution and is not to more than minimal detriment of others and does not harm the general good. The State shall have a duty to ensure this and shell enact no law, allow no law, and enforce no law, which shall abridge, abrogate, or diminish that right.

14. The constitution recognises that from time to time for certain needs the State may need to raise Taxes. Taxation should be limited as much as possible and at no time, except temporarily, for no more than three calendar years, in a state of dire emergency, or war, should total taxation exceed 21% of Gross Domestic Product. Total individual and total Company taxation should not exceed 14% of income in any three year period and in the case of individuals be restricted to those over voting age. Any new tax, or increase in taxation, shall be subject to ratification by a full referendum.
The State shall not incur debt, or increase borrowing, beyond it’s ability to pay within it’s existing tax structure and income without a full referendum.
In furtherance of clause 9 - The state shall make no tax nor impose any unreasonable hindrances on the sale and transport of goods and services.