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1

How has the EU effected parliamentary sovereignty?

- After 1973, a great deal of legislative power moved to the EU after 1973. EU law is superior to British law, so if there is any conflict, EU law must prevail. At the same time, Parliament may not pass any law that conflicts with EU law. However, there remains large areas of policy that have not been passed to Brussels, such as social security and health and education.

- The ECHR is not legally binding on the UK Parliament, so Parliament retains its sovereignty. However, it is also clear that Parliament treats the ECHR largely as if it were supreme. In other words, it would only be in extraordinary circumstances that Parliament would assert its sovereignty over the ECHR.

2

Other factors that have effected parliamentary sovereignty

- Referendums are now a lot more frequent to be used when deciding important constitutional issues such as EU membership. Although the results of such referendums are not technically binding on Parliament, it is almost inconceivable that Parliament would ignore the popular will of the people.

- Devolution to other UK countries has weakened Parliamentary sovereignty. Parliament does have the power to restore to itself all the powers that it has delegated, but this would be controversial unless a referendum is held.

3

Factortame case

- The Factortame case emphasises the fact that EU law takes precedence over UK law.

- The Law Lords nullified the Merchant Shipping Act of 1988 and therefore accepted EU legislative supremacy.