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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19th March 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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Judges, Politicians and the Contested Constitution

By Aidan O'Neill QC

Judges, Politicians and the Contested Constitution

Conrad Russell once observed that the essential problem of the relationship between Scotland and England “could be defined by saying that England could brook no equal, and Scotland no superior.” Read more ›

Would the Conservatives benefit from Scottish independence?

By Michael Everett, Researcher, The Constitution Society

A few weeks ago David Cameron attempted to seize the initiative over the question of Scottish independence by suggesting that the SNP should hold a referendum on this question sooner rather than later. Several reasons have been offered for Cameron’s actions, including the argument that the political and economic uncertainty surrounding Scotland’s place in the Union is bad for business and foreign investment.[1] Perhaps the most intriguing rumour doing the rounds at Westminster, however, is that several senior Tories, including George Osborne, favour an early referendum because they believe it offers the Conservatives a ‘win-win’ situation.

Behind this argument lies a belief that an early referendum is likely to favour the unionists. Polls suggest that support for independence in Scotland is currently low.[2] A referendum held in the near future would therefore probably result in a ‘no’ to Scottish independence. Read more ›

The Weakest Link: The UK government’s legal argument for a binding referendum on Scottish independence runs counter to international and constitutional law

By Dr Matt Qvortrup

When Michael Moore stood at the Dispatch Box at Westminster on the 10th of January he had a simple message; Scotland’s constitutional settlement rests with Westminster and Scottish independence would require the consent of London.

It could be argued that this view is somewhat at odds with international law and it might not be compatible with the constitutional doctrine of referendums in the United Kingdom.

Leaving aside the issue of whether Scotland should become independent or not, it is important that things are done in accordance with accepted principles of constitutional and international law.

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