Professor Webster Hutton in his book “History of the Modern World” asserts that the British constitution is both written and unwritten. The written part consists, first, of such documents as the Magna Carta and the Bill of Rights, which represented agreements between king and people; second, of parliamentary statutes, such as the Habeas Corpus Act, the Act of Settlement, and the various Reform Acts; third, of international treaties and fourth, of the Common Law as expressed in court decisions. All these documents have never been brought together in one comprehensive instrument like the constitutions of the United States, of France, and of other modern countries.
The unwritten part of the British Constitution includes a mass of customs binding on both Crown and Parliament. In Great Britain they play a still larger part in the conduct of government, owing to the love of precedent so characteristic of the British people.
British legal theory makes Parliament consist of the Crown, the House of Lords, and the House of Commons. The share of the Crown is now limited to expressing assent to a bill after its passage by the Commons and the Lords. Such assent the Crown must give. The royal veto has not been expressly taken away but in 1707 Queen Anne was the last sovereign to exercise this former prerogative. Nor may the courts set aside an act of Parliament as unconstitutional, for every statute is a part of the constitution.
The foregoing have been outlined to enquire as to whether the Guyana Constitution has been patterned after that of the British and if perchance the custom of Parliament cutting the budget both in Britain and Guyana has not been established as precedent.
On what authority then has the Court set aside the act of parliament in Guyana? And on what basis has the Attorney General the right to advise the President not to sign bills passed by Parliament? Are these acts demonstrations of arrogance and contempt?
Hubert C. Roberts