The UK’s constitution has been tested to its limits and found in urgent need of reform.
This report, published jointly by the Institute for Government and Cambridge University’s Bennett Institute for Public Policy, warns that a tumultuous period in UK politics has damaged trust in UK politics, its political institutions, and its international reputation as a stable democracy – with further injury inflicted by a series of scandals involving ministers and MPs, including those in the highest offices having been found to have broken the law.
Watch as our constitution review team set out the key findings
It concludes an 18-month long Review of the UK Constitution – supported by a high-level advisory board including former supreme court judge Baroness Hale, former ministers Sir Robert Buckland and Sir David Lidington, and shadow leader of the House of Lords Baroness Smith of Basildon and former Mayor of Liverpool, Joanna Anderson. Taking a non-partisan and evidence-based approach, the review makes robust recommendations designed to re-assert the UK’s fundamental constitutional principles, establish them as a stable basis for the operation of government and reassure the public that they will be enforced.
Recent years have seen governments willing to test or even break constitutional norms. The UK system allows significant constitutional changes to be made at speed, driven by narrow political party interests, without establishing broad consensus or a sense of wider public legitimacy. With no independent and authoritative source of constitutional knowledge to provide insight on constitutional issues or challenge short-sighted policy, partisan interests – rather than principles – have been allowed to drive constitutional change.
The report sets out how to strengthen the existing political constitution.
- Establishing a new Parliamentary Committee on the Constitution
- Creating an independent Office of the Constitution to support the new parliamentary committee
- Creating a new category of constitutional acts to formally recognise the importance of key pieces of legislation that underpin our political system
- Giving parliament a more extensive scrutiny process for new constitutional bills
- Clarifying the role and strengthening the capacity of the civil service to give constitutional advice
- Establishing a permanent centre for constitutional expertise within the Cabinet Office
- Integrating public engagement – though citizens’ juries and assemblies – into the processes of constitutional change