Government » Arms of Government » The Legislature

Parliamentary Sovereignty

Parliamentary Sovereignty or Supremacy

Parliamentary sovereignty (also called parliamentary supremacy or legislative supremacy) is a concept in the constitutional law of some parliamentary democracies. It holds that the legislative body has absolute sovereignty and is supreme over all other government institutions, including executive or judicial bodies. It also holds that the legislative body may change or repeal any previous legislation and so it is not bound by written law (in some cases, even a constitution) or by precedent.

In some countries, parliamentary sovereignty may be contrasted with separation of powers, which limits the legislature’s scope often to general law-making, and judicial review, where laws passed by the legislature may be declared invalid in certain circumstances.

Many states have sovereign legislatures, including the United Kingdom, Finland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Barbados, Jamaica, Papua New Guinea, Israel, and the Solomon Islands.

Supremacy of Parliament refers to the power of the body to make laws on any matter at all without coming under the influence or scrutiny of any other body.

Implications of Parliamentary Sovereignty

  • Supremacy of Parliament means that when the parliament makes mistake in the passing of any law, no other body can correct this mistake. Only the same parliament can correct the mistake.
  • Another implication of the Parliamentary Supremacy is that, parliament has the power to determine the type of governmental system to be operated in the country. Parliament can choose to pass a law to practice a capitalist or socialist system of government.
  • Power to regulate its lifespan means that parliament can extend how long or how short it stays. For example, if the parliament is supposed to sit for four years, this can be extended by another three years to a seven year term.
  • Parliament has the power to pass a law that takes effect from a time when a breach of that law was not an offense. On the hand, it could also pass a law that makes an action legal when before the passing of that law was not legal.
  • Parliament has the power to impose any form of religion it deemed fit on their people. For example, at some point, the British were Catholics but parliament but parliament pass a law to replace Catholicism with Protestantism.
  • Another implication is that without the approval of parliament, nobody can draw money from the national purse. This is the reason why every executive must take its budget to parliament to be discussed and passed into law.

Parliamentary supremacy in the United Kingdom is a concept that has long been debated. Since the subordination of the monarchy under Parliament and the increasingly democratic methods of parliamentary government, there have been the questions of whether Parliament holds a supreme ability to legislate and whether or not it should.

[Attributions and Licenses]


This is a lesson from the tutorial, Arms of Government and you are encouraged to log in or register, so that you can track your progress.

Log In

Share Thoughts