Thursday, 8 July 2010

Constitutional Tinkering .... continues .........

The previous Labour government introduced some major constitutional reforms.  These included devolution to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and the Human Rights Act 1998.  They set up a Department for Constitutional Affairs (DCA) - which later morphed into the Ministry of Justice - and there were numerous constitutional initiatives such as the creation of the Supreme Court of the U.K. and major changes to the role and status of the Lord Chancellor.  They also looked at a number of areas but actually did little - e.g. reform of the role of the Attorney-General and a review of "Royal Prerogative Powers" which are, in practice, really common law executive powers.

The new "coalition government" also seems hell bent on some constitutional reforms including fixed term parliaments and the alternative vote (about which there may be a referendum).  Further reform of the House of Lords is also on the agenda (despite the creation of many new peers since the general election).

Should all these constitutional reforms be done in this piecemeal manner?  Maybe there should be some form of "constitutional convention".  Have a read of what Joshua Rozenberg has to say in the Law Society Gazette.  I tend to agree with him.  Do you?


  1. As J.Rozenberg says there's a lot to be said for the flexibility of an unwritten constitution and as long as it's taken slowly with plenty of explanation and discussion we should be able to make progress. Personally I am all in favour of fixed term parliaments with the caveat that a government may be challenged by a vote of confidence. I am agnostic on voting reform - can see benefits in all proposals but do think that the House of Lords needs to be reformed so it is not a resting ground for party hacks. I am a fan of the stalwart work done by some peers with expertise (eg Lord Ramsbotham and Baroness Stern)but am appalled by the recent "packing" by too many deadbeats.