New Director Appointed

The Constitution Society is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Andrew Blick as Director. Based at King’s College London, Andrew has extensive experience working in political, public policy and academic environments.  He has written on a wide range of constitutional issues, including special advisers to ministers, the contemporary significance of Magna Carta, the office of Prime Minister and the possibility of codifying the United Kingdom constitution.

Andrew said:

“In the relatively short time since it was established in 2009, The Constitution Society has already become well-established in its field. It has a valuable niche as a provider of astute analysis, taken seriously by the people who count. I am pleased to have the chance to help build on these achievements to date. With the Scottish referendum imminent, followed by a General Election, and possible challenges to the position of the UK within the European Union, it is an exciting period to be working on constitutional issues.”

In his consultancy role at The Constitution Society Andrew will focus on strategic direction, research programmes and dissemination. He will continue as Lecturer in Politics and Contemporary History at King’s.

Read more ›

8th May 2014

After the Referendum: Options For a Constitutional Convention – Join Us For the Launch

The Constitution Society is happy to announce the launch of a new paper After the Referendum: Options For a Constitutional Convention. Worked on in conjunction with Unlock Democracy and authored by eminent constitutional expert, Dr Alan Renwick, the paper explores different models for a constitutional convention, citing the importance if Scotland votes ‘yes’ or ‘no’.

To join us for the launch of this paper in Parliament on 29th April with the author, Graham Allan MP and Lord MacLennan, please sign-up here. Physical copies of the report will be available on the night and PDFs will be available for download on the website shortly afterwards.

A summary of the paper is set out below:

Whatever the result of Scotland’s independence referendum, careful constitutional thinking will be needed. If Scots vote Yes, Scotland will need a new constitution and the rest of the UK will have to rethink its governing structures. Even in the event of a No vote, everyone agrees that the shape of the Union will need to change over the coming years. This paper examines how such constitution-making should take place. It sets out the options, gathers evidence from around the world on how those Read more ›

9th April 2014

Audio of Lord Steel and Dr Meg Russell discussion on Lords Reform

The Constitution Society was pleased to work with our friends at the Constitution Unit to deliver a high profile discussion on the latest attempts at Lords Reform. Chaired by Dr Ruth Fox from the Hansard Society with Lord Steel and, constitutional expert, Dr Meg Russell, the event was attended by numerous members of the House of Lords and other key stakeholders.

To promote a free and frank discussion questions and comments were raised under the Chatham House Rule, but we are able to provide an audio recording of both Dr Russell’s and Lord Steel’s interventions. 

The issue of whether the current bill constitutes a threat to the current model of Commons and Lords relations was addressed by both speakers. The potential for Peers to ‘retire’ from the Lords and stand for election to the Commons was raised by Dr Russell and her article outlining her concerns can be read here.

The recording of the meeting is available to listen to here.

7th April 2014

Lords Reform: the Steel Bill and beyond

Lord Steel’s bill allowing retirements and expulsion from the House of Lords has its second reading in the Lords on 28 March. While the core content of the bill has been widely welcomed, some concerns have been raised about a potential “loophole” which could allow the Lords to become a launchpad for future MPs.

The Constitution Society is delighted to be hosting a closed event in Parliament with the Constitution Unit to look at the implications of the Steel Bill on the House of Lords and the wider British constitution.

Chaired by Ruth Fox from the Hansard Society, Meg Russell and Lord Steel will talk about the latest attempt to reform the Lords.

This piece by Meg Russell sets out her concerns, explaining the risk of a “loophole”.

The discussion will be held in a closed meeting but shall be written up for the website later this week.

31st March 2014

Where the Party Finance Debate Stands and Prospects for Reform

The Constitution Society is pleased to announce the following event from our friends at the McDougall Trust.

Speaker:  Professor Justin Fisher, Brunel University London

Chair:  Michael Steed, McDougall Trust

Venue: Conference Room, City Temple Conference Centre, Holborn Viaduct, London EC1A 2DE (link to map below)

http://www.citytempleconferencecentre.com/contact-us.asp

About the topic: An opportunity to hear where the long-running debate stands on party finance and prospects for reform.

About the speaker: Justin Fisher is Professor of Political Science in the Politics and History department at Brunel University London.

Trust contact point: the Trust’s Administrator, Paul Wilder (telephone: 020 7620 1080 or e-mail: events@mcdougall.org.uk or post: 6 Chancel Street, London SE1 0UX). Reminders will be sent confirming event details. Do check the website for details of future workshops.

21st March 2014

Nat Le Roux gives evidence to the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee

Director of The Constitution Society Nat le Roux, gives evidence to the House of Commons Political and Constitutional Reform Committee on the role and powers of the judiciary in the UK and elsewhere, with particular respect to the UK constitution and powers of judicial review.

The video of this can be viewed here.

Additionally please download our paper on Judicial Review and watch an expert panel debate the subject at the paper’s launch here.

10th March 2014

Constitutional Responsibilities of the Civil Service

A personal view by Sir Christopher Foster of the Better Government Initiative, this latest paper outlines how pressures to reduce civil service impartiality could ultimately call into question our lack of legally enforceable constitutional constraints on ministerial action.

Can a convention based constitution hold up in the face of civil service changes?

Download the paper here.

26th February 2014

Report launched with the Constitution Unit on constitutional standards

The Constitution Society is delighted to announce the launch of a new report with the Constitution Unit entitled The Constitutional Standards of the House of Lords Select Committee on the Constitution.

Authored by leading experts, Jack Simson Caird, Robert Hazell and Dawn Oliver, the report looks at the complex issues that surround the House of Lords Select Committee on the Constitution, codifying the the standards it used between 2001 and the end of the parliamentary session 2012-2013. 

The report has been welcomed by The Constitution Society as a welcome contribution to the discussion on the way our democracy works. It will no doubt be read with interest by policymakers and all of those with a keen interest in the functions of parliament and the select committee system.

The report can be downloaded here.  

11th February 2014

Judicial Review Launch – watch the video online

The launch of The Constitution Society’s latest paper, Judicial Review and the Rule of Law: Who is in Control? at the British Academy is now available to watch online. 

Our Research Director and author of the report, Amy Street, was joined by Bill Cash MP, Sir Konrad Schiemann and Richard Gordon QC as they discussed the important topic of judicial review and the relationship between the concepts of the Rule of Law and Parliamentary Supremacy. The event was chaired by Nat le Roux, Director of The Constitution Society.

The panel discussion can be viewed here.

3rd January 2014

Judicial Review paper online

The Constitution Society’s latest paper, Judicial Review and the Rule of Law: Who is in control? is now available online.

Judicial review faces an uncertain future. The government’s proposed reforms in this area – not least, restricting who may bring a claim – are attracting controversy.

This report takes a step back from the heat of that debate to illuminate the broader picture from a constitutional perspective. What are the constitutional implications of attempts by the executive to limit the ability of individuals or organisations to challenge its decisions – and the power of the courts to rule on the lawfulness of its actions?

What is the impact on the rule of law and the relationship between institutions of state? What are the potential consequences of altering the constitutional balance between our judges and Parliament? And why is this issue so important to the government, to Parliament and to lawyers? 

9th December 2013