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Following a series of terrorist explosions in central Birmingham, the government invoked emergency prerogative powers. These powers enabled the government to take control over commercial buildings damaged in the explosions. The powers also allowed the government to deny the occupiers access to those buildings while forensic teams undertook the lengthy process of gathering evidence. 


Recognising the impact on the occupiers of such buildings, Parliament passed legislation creating a compensation scheme allowing those affected to claim for any costs and losses incurred while those buildings are under the government’s control. Notwithstanding this new legislation, the government continues to use the prerogative powers to avoid paying any such compensation under the statutory scheme. 


Which of the following statements best summarises the legal position?

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The legal principle that applies in this situation is that where there is overlap between a prerogative power and a statute, the statute prevails. This principle was established to ensure that the statutory provisions created by Parliament take precedence over the more archaic and less democratically accountable prerogative powers. This is grounded in the principle of parliamentary sovereignty, which holds that statutes enacted by Parliament are the supreme form of law in the UK legal system. Therefore, in this case, the government cannot rely on prerogative powers to circumvent the compensation scheme established by the new legislation. 


Key Point: This question addresses the principle of parliamentary sovereignty and the relationship between statutory law and prerogative powers in the UK legal system. Understanding this hierarchy is crucial for grasping the limits of government authority and the supremacy of legislative acts over executive actions.

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