A new Magna Carta? - Political and Constitutional Reform Contents



46  The Armed Forces

(1)  Acts of Parliament shall provide for, and regulate, the Armed Forces of the United Kingdom, comprising the Royal Navy, the British Army and the Royal Air Force, together with the Territorial and Reserve Forces.

(2)  Each such Act shall expire at the end of the fifth year following its enactment.

(3)  Expenditure with respect to the Armed Forces shall be authorised by annual Appropriation Act.

(4)  There shall be a Defence Council, consisting of the   Minister having responsibility for defence (who shall chair the Council) and such other Ministers, officers in the public services or in the Armed Forces as Act of Parliament shall prescribe; and an Act of Parliament shall provide for appointments, tenure of office and conditions of office of members of the Council.

47  War and Armed Conflict Abroad

(1)  Any decision of the Executive or any agency of state to commit the United Kingdom to direct participation in any international armed conflict or any international peace keeping activities shall require the prior approval of each House of Parliament.

(2)  Any declaration of a state of war by the Executive under the terms of any international covenant shall be expressed by way of Order in Council, provided that that no such Order shall be made unless a draft of the Order has been approved by resolution by a two thirds majority of those voting in each House of Parliament.

(3)  As early as practicable prior to the parliamentary proceedings referred to in paragraphs (1) and (2), the opinion of the Attorney General on the legal grounds for the United Kingdom's participation in the international armed conflict, international peace keeping activities, or declaration of war, as the case may be, proposed by the Executive, shall presented to Parliament.

48   Use of the Armed Forces within the State

(1)  An Act of Parliament shall regulate the deployment of the Armed Forces in support of the civil authorities in the state for -

(a)  the maintenance of national security or civil order;

(b)  the maintenance of essential supplies to preserve life and livelihood in a civil emergency;

(c)  the undertaking of necessary work of urgent national importance.

(d)  the alleviation of distress and for connected purposes arising out of natural or other disaster.

(2)  The minister responsible for national security and civil order may by Order in Council direct deployment of the Armed Forces under paragraph (1) provided that,

(a)  no such Order may be made unless -

(i)  a draft of Order is accompanied by a certificate signed by at least two-thirds of the members of the Defence Council stating their assent to such deployment of the Armed Forces; and

(ii)  a draft of the Order is approved by each House of Parliament;

(b)  the Order expires at the end of fourteen calendar days after it is made, but may be renewed in the manner provided in this paragraph.

(3)  Nothing in this Constitution prevents the taking of any measures necessary for the defence of the country from imminent or actual invasion by a foreign power.[855]

(4)  No armed force of any country outside the United Kingdom, nor any weapons or equipment for the use of such force, shall be based in, or used from the landspace, airspace or territorial waters of, the United Kingdom, the other British Islands or any Overseas Territory or their territorial waters.

49  The Police and Security Services

The Police Service

(1)  An Act of Parliament or, in the case of Scotland and Northern Ireland, an Act of the Scottish Parliament or Northern Ireland respectively, shall provide for -

(a)  the establishment, organisation, governance, and financing of such number of police authorities or directly elected Police and Crime Commissioners, serving such areas, as the Act shall prescribe, whose duty shall be to secure the maintenance of an efficient and effective police force for its area;

(b)  the selection, appointment, and conditions of service of police officers and, in particular, procedures for the identification of candidates which will ensure, so far as practicable, that adequate numbers of candidates of both sexes and from diverse racial, religious and social backgrounds are considered for appointment;

(c)  procedures whereby each police force can be held accountable with respect to the performance of its functions to such body of persons holding elected membership of Parliament, or appropriate devolved Parliament or Assembly, or local authority as the Act shall prescribe;

(d)  the establishment of independent bodies with the duty of investigating, on their own initiative and on complaints, acts, omissions and practices in connection with the performance of their functions by police officers or police authorities, and means of redress including payment of compensation for persons adversely affected by the defective performance of such functions.

The Security Services

(2)  For the purposes of this Constitution, the expression "national security" means the protection of the territorial integrity of the state, the safety of its citizens generally, and the maintenance of its system of government against espionage, sabotage or subversion by methods aimed at undermining that system of government, or against the use of violence in pursuit of political ends or against or between members of any group defined by race, ethnicity, national origins or religious beliefs; and the expression "security service" means those employed by the state for the purpose of national security.

(3)  The security services shall be structured and regulated by Act of Parliament.

(4)  The security services shall act in all matters in accordance with the law, including international agreements binding on the United Kingdom, and no member of any security service may obey a manifestly illegal order.

(5)  The Prime Minister shall -

(a)  establish a National Security Committee of the Cabinet to exercise a general direction over the activities of the security services, which shall be entitled to have access to all information and all records relating to the activities of security service

(b)  submit annual report to Parliament concerning the activities of the security services, which may exclude any matter the publication of which the National Security Committee, after consultation with the Inspector-General of Security Services, considers to be prejudicial to the proper performance of the functions of any such service.

(6)  An Office of Inspector General of Security Services, appointed by the Head of State on the advice of the Prime Minister, shall be established by Act of Parliament making provision for such functions, powers and resources as may be necessary to -

(a)  keep under review the operational activities of the security services, and

(b)  investigate complaints arising from any of their activities or policies that appear to be unlawful or unreasonable,

(c)  inquire into any matter at the Prime Minister's request connected to the security services, and

(d)  submit annual reports with any recommendations to the National Security Committee.

Political Neutrality

(7)  The police service and the security services shall be politically neutral, and neither they nor any of their members shall act in a manner calculated to further the interest of any particular political party.

50  Emergencies and Suspension of the Constitution

Suspension of the Constitution

(1)  Where, in the opinion of the Prime Minister, in the United Kingdom or any part of the United Kingdom -

(a)  a grave threat to national security or public order has arisen or is likely to arise; or

(b)  a grave civil emergency has arisen or is likely to arise,

the Head of State may, by Order in Council, make provision, to the extent strictly required by the exigencies of the situation and reasonably justified in a democratic society, suspending, in whole or in part, absolutely or subject to conditions, any of the provisions of this Constitution set out in paragraph (2).

(2)  Subject to paragraph (3), the following provisions may be suspended under this Article -

(a)  Article 36 (Bill of Rights);

(b)  Articles 19 with respect to the duration of Parliament and its electoral cycle, and 31(5) with respect to the Assemblies;

(d)  the provisions of an Act made under Article 53 in so far as it affects any provision of the Bill of Rights.

(3)  The following provisions set out in Article 36 may not be suspended under this Article -

(a)  Paragraph (1) (Right to life), except in respect of deaths resulting from lawful acts of war;

(b)  Paragraph (2) (Freedom from torture);

(c)  Paragraph (3)(a) (Freedom from slavery);

(d)  Paragraph (4)(f) (Treatment of persons in detention);

(e)  Paragraph (5)(b) to 5(f) (Right to fair hearing in criminal cases);

(f)  Paragraph (6) (Prohibition of retrospective offences);

(g)  Paragraph (8) (Freedom of thought);

(h)  Paragraph (18) (Equality).

(4)  Unless the urgency of the situation makes it impracticable to obtain such approval, an Order in Council under this Article shall not be made, unless a draft of the Order has been approved, by resolution, by a two-thirds majority of those voting in each House of Parliament.

(5)  An Order in Council that has been made without having been approved in draft under paragraph (4) ceases to have effect unless, within 14 days after it is made, it is confirmed, by resolution, by a two-thirds majority of those voting in each House of Parliament.

(6)  The validity of an Order in Council made under this Article may be challenged in proceedings for judicial review.

(7)  An Order in Council made under this Article has effect only for such time as shall be specified in the Order; and the duration of the Order may be extended, by resolution, by a two-thirds majority of those voting in each House of Parliament, if, and to the extent that, the making of a new Order in Council would be justified under this Article.

Detention in Emergencies

(8)  Where a person is detained under an Order in Council made under this Article -

(a)  the person shall, as soon as reasonably practicable and not more than 7 days after commencement of the detention, be provided with a statement in writing, in a language that the person understands, specifying in detail the grounds of the detention;

(b)  not more than seven days after the commencement of the detention, a notification shall be published in newspapers having general circulation in the United Kingdom stating that the person has been detained and the particulars of the provision of law under which the detention is authorised;

(c)  not more than 3 weeks after the commencement of the detention and thereafter during the detention at intervals of not more than 6 months, the detention shall be reviewed by an independent and impartial tribunal, the members of which shall be appointed by the appropriate Judicial Services Commission;

(d)  the person shall be afforded reasonable facilities to cons~1t a representative of his or her choosing and to appear, m person or through such a representative, before the tribunal.

(9)  The tribunal reviewing a detention under this Article may make recommendations concerning the necessity or expediency of continuing the detention, which shall be communicated to the detainee; and unless an Act of Parliament or the Order in Council otherwise provides, the authority by which the detention was ordered, after consideration of the recommendations, is not obliged to act in accordance with them.

855   Countries such as France who have experienced invasion in recent history may require a declaration of Siege to accompany such measures, which in the case of the United Kingdom might be issued by Order in Council. Back

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© Parliamentary copyright 2014
Prepared 10 July 2014