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Latest news, updates and announcements from The Constitution Unit

New Lecturer post in British and Comparative Politics

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The UCL Department of Political Science/School of Public Policy has just advertised for a new Lecturer in British and Comparative Politics. It is hoped that the successful applicant will contribute to the Constitution Unit's research, as well as to teaching in the Department. Full details can be found here.

Inaugural Lecture: Professor Meg Russell- Politics, Academia and the Real World

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Tuesday 3 March 2015 - 6.30pm

Presiding: Professor Mary Fulbrook, Dean of Faculty of Social And Historical Sciences

Press Release: New report finds that codification of the UK’s constitution is not essential

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The Constitution Unit is pleased to announce the launch of a new report on codification of the UK’s constitution. The report compares the texts of constitutionally relevant statutes in the UK to other countries’ constitutional texts. In doing so, it provides three lessons for those involved in the debate over codification (or not) of the UK’s constitution:

VIDEO: Professor Robert Hazell on Another hung Parliament: what next?

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In this short video Professor Robert Hazell explains how the new government will be formed if no single party gains an overall majority in the UK general election in May.

New Leadership for the Constitution Unit from September 2015

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Meg Russell, Alan Renwick & Robert Hazell

New arrangements for the leadership of the Constitution Unit are planned from September 2015. Professor Robert Hazell will formally step down as Director, after 20 years in the role, to be succeeded by the current Deputy Director, Professor Meg Russell. At the same time Dr Alan Renwick joins the UCL Department of Political Science from the University of Reading, and will take over as the Constitution Unit Deputy Director.

VIDEO: Nicholas Paines QC & Henni Ouahes  - Reforming Electoral Law

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Speakers: Nicholas Paines QC & Henni Ouahes (Law Commission)

28th January 2015

Meg Russell on BBC Westminster hour talking about why system for appointing peers needs urgent reform

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Meg Russell was on the BBC Westminster Hour programme on Sunday 23 February 2015 talking about why system for appointing peers needs urgent reform.

VIDEO: The Rt Hon Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland on 'Austerity, inequality and the Scottish approach to economic growth' 

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Nicola Sturgeon &RH

Nicola Sturgeon the First Minister of Scotland spoke at a public lecture on Wednesday 11th February on 'Austerity, inequality and the Scottish approach to economic growth' 

Press Release: New report calls for regulation of prime ministerial appointments to the Lords

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A new report published today by respected think tank the Constitution Unit, and backed by other key constitutional reform bodies, calls for immediate moves to regulate prime ministerial appointments to the House of Lords. The report was launched last night at a high-profile event in the Lords, presided over by the former Lord Speaker and welcomed by various senior figures.

Unit in the News - January 2015

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The new Parliamentary Candidates UK project, which is a new resource for those interested in representation and the UK political class, has been quoted in the press recently.

VIDEO: Professor Michael Kenny - Understanding the Re-emergence of the English Question

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Speaker: Professor Michael Kenny
8th December 2014

Press Release: Don’t Rush English Votes on English Laws, says Constitution Unit

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Commenting on the publication today of the government’s different options for English votes for English laws, the Director of UCL’s Constitution Unit Professor Robert Hazell said:

VIDEO: Dominic Grieve QC MP - Why It Matters that Conservatives Should Support the European Convention on Human Rights

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Speaker: Dominic Grieve
3rd December 2014

A British withdrawal from the European Convention of Human Rights would be “devastating for Britain and human rights throughout Europe, says Dominic Grieve, sacked as Attorney General by David Cameron in July.

VIDEO: Dr Alan Renwick & Katie Ghose - A Constitutional Convention for the UK: What Form Should It Take?

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Speaker: Dr Alan Renwick & Katie Ghose
12th November 2014

Talk to University College London by the Rt Hon Dominic Grieve QC MP 'Why Human Rights should matter to Conservatives'

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Check against delivery


I am most grateful for the kind invitation that has been extended to me tonight by both the UCL Constitution Unit and Judicial Institute to come and talk about the operation of the ECHR and the Human Rights Act from a Conservative perspective. Throughout my time in politics, but particularly after I became Attorney General in 2010 I have come to value the work that you have done and my opportunities to learn from your events and publications.

Press Release: Speech by the Former Attorney Gengeral Dominic Grieve MP to the Constitution Unit and Judicial Institute of UCL on 3 December 2014

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A British withdrawal from the European Convention of Human Rights would be “devastating for Britain and human rights throughout Europe, says Dominic Grieve, sacked as Attorney General by David Cameron in July.

New book edited by Jennifer Hudson 'The Political Costs of the 2009 British MPs’ Expenses Scandal'

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VIDEO: Jim Gallagher & Iain McLean - The Day After Judgement: Scotland and the UK after the referendum

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Speaker: Professor Jim Gallagher & Professor Iain McLean
9th October 2014

Jim Gallagher argues it would be a serious error if either Scotland or the UK were to conclude things could revert to business as usual. Agreement on the full detail of further devolution plans is needed across the parties and then legislation. The more complex task will be reconstituting the union. This needs updating and restating; to reflect not just the place of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland but the reality that England has a constitutional existence also, to be expressed in parliamentary procedures to deal with English legislation. All of this needs to be drawn together, codified and managed for the long run. The referendum has been both divisive and energising. Obligations fall on both sides – to accept the result, and to be magnanimous in victory.

Robert Hazell gives evidence at the Public Administration Select Committee on Whitehall: capacity to address future challenges

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Robert Hazell gave evidence at the Public Administration Select Committee (PASC) holds its first public oral evidence sessions on its inquiry Whitehall: capacity to address future challenges on Tuesday 4 November at 10.00am.  The inquiry considers the government’s capacity to anticipate, to analyse, to assess, and to respond to the most significant challenges facing the UK in the next decade or so.

VIDEO: Meg Russell's UCL Lunch Hour Lecture on 'Does parliament matter?'

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Speaker: Professor Meg Russell
9th October 2014

Many people dismiss the Westminster parliament as an ineffective 'talking shop', and similar allegations are commonplace about parliaments in other democracies. But based on substantial research Meg Russell argues that Westminster is influential - and almost certainly increasingly so. Her lecture seeks to dispel some common misconceptions about how parliamentary institutions work, in the UK and beyond.

VIDEO: Succession to the Crown of Canada – The Court Challenge and the Consequences

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Speaker: Professor Anne Twomey

18th September 2014

Press release: Constitution Unit analysis of the English Question

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On the Constitution Unit Blog Robert Hazell has published a four page analysis of all the different answers to the English Question.  As the political parties and others cross swords about the rival merits of an English Parliament or English votes on English laws, or city regions vs regional government vs local government, the Constitution Unit offers this as an expert and dispassionate contribution to the debate.  It is based upon a three year research project with ten contributors which resulted in a book titled The English Question.

VIDEO: Special Advisers: Who they are, what they do and why they matter 

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Viewers of The Thick of It will know of special advisers as spin doctors and political careerists. Several well-known ministers have been special advisers, among them David Cameron, Ed Miliband, Jack Straw and Vince Cable.

PRESS RELEASE: Special Advisers: Who they are, what they do and why they matter by Ben Yong and Robert Hazell  

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Professor Robert Hazell on BBC2's 'Scotland Votes: What's at Stake for the UK' on 12 Aug 2014

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R Hazell - Scotland Votes: What's at stake for the  UK - 12 Aug 14

Professor Robert Hazell explains the impact Scottish independence could have on the 2015 General Election and the next Government on BBC2's Scotland Votes: What's at Stake for the UK? Andrew Neil explores what an independent Scotland would mean for Wales, England and Northern Ireland and the changes that may lie ahead whether the vote is yes or no.

Order a copy of 'Special Advisers: Who they are, what they do and why they matter' by Robert Hazell and Ben Yong

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Dr Meg Russell on BBC Westminster hour discussing the unsustainable House of Lords appointments

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Dr Meg Russell was on the BBC Westminster Hour programme on Sunday 27 July  discussing unsustainable House of Lords appointments and the need for regulation. Dr Russell explains the most urgent Lords reform is the need to regulate unsustainable level of PM's appointments. Listen to the show on BBC website.

Video: Leanne Wood AM - What of Wales? Putting Wales at the heart of the Constitutional debate in Britain.

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All eyes are on Scotland in the lead up to its independence referendum but Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood makes the case for Wales to emerge from the periphery and emerge as an active participant in the debate for a new British partnership. Examining the implications for Wales and Britain of the Silk Report into further devolution and the Scots referendum, Ms Wood will argue the case for the process of devolution to give way to a new process of self-government; a powers reserved in reverse model that would see decision-making shared on the basis of the sovereignty of the people rather than of Westminster.

Press release: Special Advisers need better support and supervision, says new study from Constitution Unit

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The weekend resignation of Fiona Cunningham, Theresa May’s trusted Special Adviser, provides yet another reminder of how important Special Advisers are in Whitehall; but also of the inadequate arrangements for their support and supervision.  The need for better support is one of the main conclusions of a recent study by the Constitution Unit, funded by the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust.

Press release: UKIP has no entitlement to peers: but row demonstrates how Lords appointments badly need reform

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Today's news reports (eg. here and here) include a claim by UKIP for more seats in the House of Lords. Figures were quoted from a Constitution Unit report to support the claim that UKIP is entitled to 23 new peers. It is important to note that our report did not endorse such appointments, and in fact emphasised that such a change was undesirable.

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How should parliament decide who will be the next Prime Minister: by a nomination vote, or the Queen’s Speech?

Thu, 26 Mar 2015 11:00:22 +0000

Robert Hazell weighs up options for establishing who can command the confidence of the House of Commons, which will be particularly significant in the likely event of another coalition. This is the fourth in a series of posts about government formation after the election. The Cabinet Manual explains the rules as follows: ‘… the Sovereign will invite the person […]


Farewell to the Commons: Reflections on parliamentary change over 40 years

Tue, 24 Mar 2015 11:00:47 +0000

On 4 March Jack Straw and Sir George Young spoke at a Constitution Unit valedictory event where they considered how parliament has changed since the 1970s. Sam Sharp offers an overview of the discussion. Jack Straw and Sir George Young have 77 years of parliamentary experience between them – Straw was first elected in 1979, […]


Codification of the UK Constitution is not essential

Thu, 19 Mar 2015 10:00:29 +0000

The Constitution Unit is pleased to announce the launch of a new report To Codify or Not to Codify: Lessons from Consolidating the United Kingdom’s Constitutional Statutes. James Melton, the report’s lead author, offers an overview of the report, which reflects on some lessons learned about the UK Constitution while consolidating the texts of 18 […]


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