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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Scottish Independence: asking the wrong question?

Following last month’s agreement between David Cameron and Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond,  the Scottish Government has now rubber-stamped the SNP’s proposed question for the 2014 referendum on Scottish independence: ‘Do you agree that Scotland should be an independent country?

The proposed question has yet to be approved by the Electoral Commission. The  Commission’s role in determining the intelligibility of proposed referendum questions is, strictly, merely consultative. However it would be at best embarrassing for the SNP to ignore the Commission’s recommendation. 

 Dr Matt Qvortrup, a member of The Constitution Society’s Working party on Scottish Independence and a leading authority on referendums, said last week that in his view the Electoral Commission are unlikely to endorse the proposed question on the grounds that the word ‘agree’ biaised the question towards an affirmative answer.

 Earlier this year a group of academics including Dr Qvortrup proposed an alternative, neutral, phrasing of the question which is broadly supported by the opposition parties: ‘Scotland should become an independent state: I agree/I do not agree

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Salmond and Cameron agree on independence referendum

The British and Scottish governments have largely agreed on the details of a referendum on Scottish independence in 2014. Though some issues remain to be ironed out, it is understood that there will be a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ question with no third option on the devolution of more powers. It also appears that agreement has been reached on allowing 16 and 17 year olds to vote on Scotland’s future.

With general agreement reached it seems clear that a referendum on Scotland’s future in the United Kingdom will now be taking place in 2014. The legal consequences of this will be paramount to the Scottish electorate making an informed decision. The Constitution Society will be looking in-depth at these consequences as well as continuing to monitor developments on this important topic.   

The Constitution Society welcomes Chloe Smith

Further to the last post, The Constitution Society has finally been informed that Chloe Smith is to be the minister replacing Mark Harper in the Cabinet Office. Unlike Mr Harper, Ms Smith’s brief appears to incorporate a far wider portfolio – “public sector efficiency and reform, political and constitutional reform and a range of other topics” according to her official website.

Previously Economic Secretary to the Treasury, Ms Smith will take on the newly constituted position of Parliamentary Secretary to the Cabinet Office. 

We welcome Ms Smith to her new role and look forward to engaging with her in the future. Issues surrounding party funding, lobbying and the ongoing debates over Scotland and Europe will require her full attention.

20th September 2012

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