New paper on Parliamentary privilege to be launched

The Constitution Society is pleased to announce the launch of our latest paper – Parliamentary Privilege: Evolution or codification.

Written by eminent barrister, Richard Gordon QC, and Sir Malcolm Jack, former Clerk of the House of Commons (2006-2011), the paper looks at the critical constitutional issue of Parliamentary privilege from a number of interesting angles.

A formal launch on Thursday 9th May will be attended by parliamentarians, journalists and academics for a discussion on the paper’s key findings.

Until then, the paper is embargoed but a preview can be found from Joshua Rozenberg on the Guardian Law website.

Once the paper has been distributed a PDF copy will be available from the website. 

For any queries on the paper or the launch please email James Hallwood via james@constitutionsoc.org.uk

Mr Speaker announced as the patron of our new youth initiative

The Constitution Society is delighted to announce that Rt Hon John Bercow MP, Speaker of the House of Commons, has agreed to be the patron of our new youth initiative, Young People and the Constitution (YPC).

YPC is The Constitution Society’s initiative to inform today’s young people and tomorrow’s leaders on the workings of the British constitution and the arms and levers of our state.

Bringing young people from a broad range of experience and backgrounds together with key figures in the workings of the British constitution, we aim to better prepare the politicians and civil servants of tomorrow.

Mr Speaker will be delivering a talk on the role of Parliament in the British constitution on Monday 13th May at 5pm in Westminster. To register for a place or for any queries, please email ypc@consoc.org.uk

15th April 2013

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Resignation shines light on PCC powers

The resignation of Paris Brown, Britain’s first ‘Youth Police Commissioner’, shines light on the powers of appointment elected Police and Crime Commissioners have and raises questions as to how appropriate these may be. 

The revelation that Ms Brown had once sent violent, racist, and homophobic tweets made her position untenable, but her resignation does not usher in the end of the role of a ‘Youth Police Commissioner’ in Kent. Introduced by Kent’s Independent PCC, Ann Barnes, the role sought to engage the police with young people – a replacement will be appointed in due course. This was a position created in Kent alone and at the behest of its PCC. 

Questions of vetting, transparency, and the powers of PCCs are now in the spotlight. Making summary appointments is one of the important powers that PCCs have been granted, but until now it has been little explored. The landmark election of PCCs would have been the ideal opportunity for a constitutional discussion on the rights and wrongs of democratisating key roles – yet the election did little to explore the constitutional implications of this new position and the low turnout (below 15%) spoke for the lack of enthusiasm or clarity on the remit of the office. 

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Eleanor Laing MP joins The Constitution Society Advisory Board

The Constitution Society is delighted to announce that  Eleanor Laing MP has joined us as a key member of our Advisory Board. Eleanor has been the Conservative Member of Parliament for Epping Forest since 1997 and, before the 2010 General Election, Eleanor was the Shadow Minister for Justice.

Eleanor has a long been at the forefront of constitutional discussions in Parliament, serving as Frontbench spokesman on Constitutional Affairs in 2000, a key member of the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee since 2010 and an important voice on the Joint Committee on House of Lords Reform. Eleanor is also the Chairman of the 1922′s Sub-Committee on Home and Constitutional Affairs and the government’s Special Representative to Gibraltar.

Eleanor joins Labour Peer, Lord Howarth of Newport and former Liberal Democrat MP, David Howarth, bringing political balance to our Advisory Board and key expertise. 

We very much look forward to working with Eleanor in the future.

To see the rest of our Advisory Board, our Trustees, and staff click here

 

Comment: Why we should be cautious about abandoning the European Convention on Human Rights

“Freedom from Strasbourg” has become a popular rallying cry in British Politics. Just last week Theresa May made it a central part of a speech which many feel was intended to position her for a future leadership challenge.We need to stop human rights legislation interfering with our ability to fight crime and control immigration… that’s why the next Conservative Government will scrap the Human Rights Act.” said Mrs May, and why not?

The extended sojourn of Abu Qatada in the U.K. on the basis of Article three of the European Convention on Human rights, has certainly offended those key ‘British’ senses of decency, justice and common sense, and does not Parliament reign Sovereign here?

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APPG The Contemporary Relevance of Magna Carta – Podcast

The Constitution Society provides organisational and secretarial support for the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on the British Constitution, chaired by Lord Norton of Louth. The Group works to broaden legislators’ knowledge base and improve the quality of debate on proposals for constitutional change and the way in which they are introduced.

We are excited to announce that the next APPG podcast is now available to listen to or download. The most recent meeting of the APPG on the Constitution was on on the subject of the Contemporary Relevance of Magna Carta. Read more ›

27th February 2013

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APPG Police and Crime Commissioners – Podcast

APPG Police and Crime Commissioners – Podcast

The Constitution Society provides organisational and secretarial support for the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on the British Constitution, chaired by Lord Norton of Louth. The Group works to broaden legislators’ knowledge bahich they are introduced.

We are excited to announce that the next APPG podcast is now available to listen to or download. The most recent meeting of the APPG on the Constitution was on on the subject of Police and Crime Commissse and improve the quality of debate on proposals for constitutional change and the way in wioners. Read more ›

13th February 2013

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Despite the speech a referendum on EU membership seems unlikely

Cameron’s much-delayed and anticipated speech on Britain’s relationship with the rest of the European Union called for a substantial renegotiation of the terms of our membership as well as a repatriation of powers. The renegotiated settlement would then be put to a referendum with the public deciding whether to back his deal or leave the EU completely. 

Many column inches have been devoted to looking at what the terms of renegotiation would be, the likelihood of success, and the internal politics of an increasingly eurosceptic Conservative Party that some claim has led to this move. But while pro and anti European camps prepare to make their cases, the simple fact is that this referendum is unlikely to happen.

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25th January 2013

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APPG Constitutional Developments Under the Coalition – Podcast

The Constitution Society provides organisational and secretarial support for the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on the British Constitution, chaired by Lord Norton of Louth. The Group works to broaden legislators’ knowledge base and improve the quality of debate on proposals for constitutional change and the way in which they are introduced.

We are excited to announce that the APPG meetings will now be available to listen to as podcasts. The most recent meeting of the APPG on the Constitution was on on the subject of Constitutional Developments Under the Coalition. 

 The speakers, in order of appearance, were: 

  • Professor Robert Hazell, Director, The Constitution Unit 
  • Dr Michael Pinto-Duschinsky, Senior Consultant on Constitutional Affairs, Policy Exchange

You can listen to the podcast on our website here. If you would like to download the podcast simply right click the link above and select ‘save as’.

23rd January 2013

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The Coalition’s mid-term constitutional plans

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.

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11th January 2013

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