6th June 2012

A summary of this week’s constitutional affairs: bringing together debates and questions in Parliament, Select Committee activity and online comment.

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APPG meets to discuss House of Lords reform

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on the Constitution works to improve the quality of debate on proposals for constitutional change and the way in which they are introduced. Previous topics explored range from the AV referendum to Scottish independence. The APPG is supported by The Constitution Society. 

The meeting on 16th May 2012 was a response to the House of Lords Reform Report and was attended by Members of both Houses. The event was chaired by Lord Norton of Louth with presentations from Dr Meg Russell (Deputy Director, Constitution Unit, UCL) and Professor John Curtice (Research Consultant to NatCen Social Research).

The APPG meetings are open only to members of both Houses and are unattributed so the following is a brief summary of the topics explored.

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The Constitution Society submits evidence on the quality of legislation

The Constitution Society is happy to announce that our evidence to the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee on the
subject of ‘Ensuring Standards in the Quality of Legislation’ has been submitted. 

The evidence highlights the large amounts of low quality legislation and calls for the introduction of new Parliamentary processes to mitigate against political pressures to pass ill-thought out laws. The Constitution Society welcomes the idea of a ‘Legislative Standards Committee’  to review draft legislation and check:

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Queen’s Speech – the constitutional highlights

This year’s Queen’s Speech is the second under the Coalition and the 57th of Her Majesty’s reign, the full text of which can be found here. While the emphasis of the government programme appears to be to ‘reduce the deficit and restore economic
stability’ this is a speech that outlines some potentially monumental constitutional changes. 

Succession

The speech notes that the  ‘…government will continue to work with the 15 other Commonwealth realms to take forward reform of the rules governing succession to the crown’. Building upon the Perth agreement between Commonwealth Realms in 2011, the speech alludes to the plans to end male preference primogeniture, allow those who marry Roman Catholics to remain in the line of succession and reduce the need to ask permission of monarch for a marriage to only the six closest in line to the throne. 

While relatively uncontroversial, such moves will require the amending of several key constitutional laws such as the 1689 Bill of Rights and the 1701 Act of Succession. 

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Mixed results for directly elected mayors

While the results for the 2012 Local Elections poured, in The Constitution Society was carefully watching the series of  referendums as to whether some of the UK’s major cities should have a directly elected mayor. A key initiative of the Coalition, the case for directly elected mayors had been strongly articulated by many in Government and Opposition, with the Prime Minister calling for a ‘Boris in every city’.

As it happened London did indeed return Boris Johnson as mayor, but of the eleven cities voting on whether to have a directly elected mayor or not only two opted for it over a council cabinet system. Birmingham, Bradford, Coventry, Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle Upon-Tyne, Nottingham, Sheffield and Wakefield all rejected a mayor with ‘No’ votes of 57.8%, 55.1%, 63.6%, 63.3%, 53.2%, 61.9%, 57.5%, 65% and 62.2% respectively.

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25th April 2012

A summary of this week’s constitutional affairs: bringing together debates and questions in Parliament, Select Committee activity and online comment.

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Codifying Local Government?

The Political and Constitutional Reform Select Committee is consulting on the democratic and practical issues around the desirability of codifying (or formally writing down) in statute the principles and mechanics of the relationship between central and local government.

You can find the draft code above or by clicking on this link. The Committee itself has not taken a view on the document, but is making it available to the public for consultation to see if an appetite exists for any form of codification of the relationship between central and local government.

Consultation closes on 5th October 2012. The Constitution Society encourages all interested parties to send responses and thoughts on the code to the Select Committee at pcrc@parliament.uk

Joint Committee publishes its report on House of Lords Reform

The Joint Committee on the Draft House of Lords Reform Bill published its report today.

Amongst its main recommendations are:

  • An 80% elected chamber by STV with 20% nominated for expertise
  • 450 member strong House to provide an adequate pool to scrutinise legislation
  • 15 year non-renewable terms for members
  • A referendum to decide if members of the House of Lords are to be elected

PCRC Launches New Inquiry

Yesterday the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee announced the launch of a new inquiry into whether the United Kingdom needs a constitutional convention. The inquiry will seek to look at how such a convention could allow discussion and debate on the future of the Union as a whole rather than doing so via a focus on specific issues or constituent nations.  

The Constitution Society welcomes this inquiry as an opportunity to establish a credible discussion on the constitutional future of the UK. To read more about this interesting development and have your own input into a potential convention’s establishment click here.

16th April 2012

A summary of this week’s constitutional affairs: bringing together debates and questions in Parliament, Select Committee activity and online comment.

 

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