LNAT practice question

This is a sample LNAT Section A passage. You have 8 minutes to read the passage and answer the questions. 3 full practice tests with answers and detailed explanations are available in Chapter 5 of the e-book Ace the LNAT – 3rd Edition.

Parliamentary Power

The basic principle of the British constitution can be said to be a very simple one. It is encapsulated in the assertion that Parliament is the sovereign lawmaker. This concept of Parliamentary sovereignty was articulated by A.V. Dicey, an Oxford law professor of the 19th Century, who still wields great influence in British Constitutional law. According to Dicey, the idea contained two elements. The positive limb is that Parliament can make or unmake any law whatsoever by the ordinary process of an Act passed by a majority vote in the Houses of Parliament and Lords and given Royal assent. The negative limb proposes that an Act of parliament cannot be challenged in any British court. Since there is no higher law than an Act of Parliament there is no means by which to declare an Act illegal or unconstitutional.

The positive limb of Dicey’s theory seems to say that there is nothing that Parliament cannot do however it is apparent that there is an obvious flaw to this assertion. If there were nothing that Parliament could not do it would follow that Parliament could give its sovereignty up. This question has led to the development of two opposing theories. The continuing theory of Parliamentary sovereignty maintains that Parliament is a perpetual institution and that its unconfined legislative power is created afresh every time it meets regardless of its previous enactments. This is Dicey’s position. The self-embracing theory of Parliamentary sovereignty on the other hand asserts that Parliamentary sovereignty does include the power to bind itself and its successors. This is achieved by a process which has become known as ‘entrenching a measure within the legal system.’

Jennings, a strong advocate of the self-embracing theory, argues that entrenchment is possible and that this can be shown by the two limbs of Dicey’s own theory. He argues that since there is no statute which articulates the rule in Dicey’s positive limb, it must be a so-called common law rule. If, according to this current rule of recognition, an Act of Parliament is the highest form of law then Parliament could legislate to change this rule of recognition so that the courts are required to accept, for example, that certain laws are safe from repeal by a simple majority vote thus successfully limiting the manner and form of future Parliamentary process.

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(1) Dicey’s theory can be best summed up as:

(a) It is illegal for Parliament to try to confine its legal powers

(b) While at any given moment Parliament has unlimited legal power it is limited by the procedural process imposed on it by its predecessors

(c) Parliament has unlimited legislative supremacy with the one caveat that it can not limit the unlimited power of the institution itself

(d) Parliament is subject to the regulation of its powers by the courts

(e) Acts of Parliament are not the highest form of law in the British constitution

(2) Which conundrum can be inferred from the two limbs of Dicey’s theory according to the passage?

(a) Since the courts cannot declare an Act of Parliament illegal Acts of Parliament are not really laws at all

(b) For parliament to have ultimate legislative supremacy it must be limited from doing away with its own unlimited legislative powers

(c) No conundrum can be inferred

(d) While parliament may appear sovereign there must be limits on its power otherwise it would be dangerously undemocratic

(e) The positive limb conflicts with the negative limb so as to make a nonsense of Dicey’s theory as Jennings points out in the final paragraph

(3) Which of the following is not true of Jennings’ argument?

(a) Through the ordinary Parliamentary process the procedure of creating an Act of Parliament can be altered so as to bind future Parliaments

(b) His theory invalidates the second limb of Dicey’s theory

(c) Dicean Parliamentary supremacy is a common law rule

(d) Acts of Parliament are the highest form of law

(e) It is an argument in favour of the self-embracing theory of Parliamentary Sovereignty

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