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Does devolution require a reformed UK constitution?

The event explored the challenges of devolving power in the UK's constitutional framework.

Jess Sargeant and Professor Nicola McEwen on stage at the IfG. On screen is Professor Jo Hunt.
Jess Sargeant, IfG Associate Director, was joined on screen by Professor Jo Hunt and on stage by Professor Nicola McEwen.

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Westminster’s relationship with the UK’s nations and regions has changed radically over the last 25 years. Powers have been devolved, and new institutions in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have been created. But does the UK’s constitution still work for these new arrangements or is reform needed?

In Scotland, the question of independence looms large. In Northern Ireland, the future of power-sharing is in doubt. In Wales, there is growing interest in federalism. And in England, the pursuit of economic development is driving regional devolution. There are shared challenges too, including relationships with the central UK government and the lack of constitutional protection for devolved powers.

This event – part of the IfG and the Bennett Institute Review of the UK constitution – brought together reflections from four roundtables held across the UK to discuss these issues, in partnership with the Senator George J. Mitchell Institute for Global Peace at Queen’s University Belfast, the Royal Society of Edinburgh, the Centre for Urban and Regional Development Studies, and Cardiff University’s Wales Governance Centre. What are the shared constitutional issues facing devolution across the UK? How can the unique constitutional questions across Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, and England be addressed? And are there ways that the constitution could be improved?

To explore these questions, the IfG brought together an expert panel including:

  • Professor Jo Hunt, Professor of Law in the Cardiff School of Law and Politics and a member of the Wales Governance Centre
  • Professor Nicola McEwen, Professor of Public Policy at the University of Glasgow
  • Professor Andy Pike, Chair of Regional Development Studies at the Centre for Urban and Regional Development Studies
  • Sir David Sterling, former Head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service and Chair of the Chief Executives' Forum.

This event was chaired by Jess Sargeant, Associate Director at the Institute for Government

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