It’s been a furiously busy two years of constitutional news: from the AV referendum and failed Lords reform to elected Police Commissioners and fixed-term parliaments. But now with the Coalition reaching mid-point in this parliament what constitutional issues will be raised in the run-up to 2015?
The downgrading of Chloe Smith’s role from that of her predecessor’s indicates that the Coalition will be placing less priority on parliamentary and constitutional reform, but there still remain huge constitutional matters that will be addressed before the end of this parliament.
Foremost amongst these is the referendum on Scottish independence – a topic most MPs will campaign together on. The vote in 2014 will not simply answer the question of Scotland’s and the UK’s future but also raise further questions on topics like what constitutes ‘devo-max‘ should Scotland remain in the UK as well as what age voters should be. Meanwhile Westminster will look at transferring more powers to the Welsh and Northern Irish assemblies.
Making Parliament more accountable and transparent are also aims that will continue to be pursued. Legislating for the recall of MPs is still to be addressed as is the thorny issue of party funding while a statutory register of lobbyists is also promised.
Individual voter registration is set to become a reality by 2015 and while Parliament is set to vote on boundary changes it seems unlikely that a reduction in the number of MPs or a substantial change to 2010 electoral boundaries will be approved without Liberal Democrat support.
While the Coalition looks like it is winding up its constitutional plans there’s still a lot of potential change on the horizon. As Europe continues to remain on the agenda, Britain’s relationship and perhaps even membership of the EU may face dramatic changes with many constitutional implications.
The Constitution Society will remain at the forefront of exploring these issues, ever committed to a transparent and rational approach to constitutional change.