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The Constitution Unit News

PACAC adopts Robert Hazell's recommendations on Pre-Appointment Scrutiny

On 17 September the Commons Political and Constitutional Affairs Committee (PACAC) published their report on Pre-Appointment Scrutiny, recommending changes in the way Select Committees approach the task of scrutinising nominees to the most senior public appointments. PACAC’s report drew heavily on recommendations by the Constitution Unit's Robert Hazell, who was the first witness before the Committee on 15 May, and made two written submissions, on 1 May and 5 June. In particular PACAC agreed that Select Committees

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Meg Russell gives evidence to Constitution Committee inquiry into the legislative process

On 6 June, Constitution Unit Director Professor Meg Russell gave oral evidence – along with Daniel Gover (co-author of their book Legislation at Westminster) and Dr Ruth Fox (Director of the Hansard Society) – to the Constitution Committee’s inquiry into the legislative process. In 2016, the four-stage inquiry was launched to follow up the Committee’s 2004 report on Parliament and the Legislative Process. The Committee produced its first-stage report on preparing legislation in 2017, and is now taking evidence on the passage of legislation through parliament.

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Meg Russell gives evidence to Liaison Committee inquiry into the role of House of Lords Committees

On 25 April Constitution Unit Director Professor Meg Russell gave oral evidence, alongside two representatives from the Institute for Government, to the House of Lords Liaison Committee, which coordinates and reviews the work of the chamber's committees. Earlier this year it launched an inquiry aiming to examine the strengths and weaknesses of the Lords committee system, and to make proposals for reform – representing the first such major review in 25 years. This was a historic evidence session, being the first public evidence session ever held by the committee.

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Constitution Unit researchers contribute to new parliamentary studies textbook

The newly published book Exploring Parliament edited by Cristina Leston-Bandeira and Louise Thomson (Oxford University Press, 2018) is explicitly intended as a textbook for Parliamentary Studies modules, which introduce undergraduate students to the functioning of the UK parliament. The book brings together contributions from academics and practitioners and covers a wide range of themes related to the organisation and functioning of the UK parliament, and includes several contributions from Constitution Unit staff and Fellows, as well as from Honorary Staff and close collaborators.

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Meg Russell wins funds to hold bicameralism events in Rome

Unit Director Meg Russell has won £3500 in funding as part of UCL Rome Regional Partnership Fund, for a partnership with LUISS University, Rome. The project, 'The Challenges of Second Chambers: Parliamentary Bicameralism in Practice, and Prospects for Reform', includes two workshops to be organised in collaboration with LUISS Centre for Parliamentary Studies, which has close relationships with practitioners from the Italian parliament.

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Alan Renwick gives evidence to the Council of Europe

The Constitution Unit’s Deputy Director, Dr Alan Renwick, is in Strasbourg today giving evidence to the Political Affairs and Democracy Committee of the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly. The committee is launching an inquiry into the conduct of referendums, and Dr Renwick will give an introductory presentation on some of the key issues that it might address.

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NEW REPORT: Critical Friends? Non Executives on Whitehall Departmental Boards

The Constitution Unit publishes today the first major study of non-executive board members in Whitehall (commonly known as non-executive directors, or NEDs). The report finds that non-executives are high calibre, committed people, whose expertise is greatly valued by the civil service. But NEDs find the role frustrating, and feel they could be much more effective if the system only allowed.

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Expert Panel Report: the Welsh Assembly needs to grow

An Expert Panel on Assembly Electoral Reform today recommends that the Welsh Assembly should be expanded in order to hold the Welsh Government to account effectively and deliver for the people and communities of Wales.  

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Unit invites applicants for Leverhulme Early Career Fellowships

The Constitution Unit would like to encourage academically-excellent candidates to propose projects to pursue with us as an Early Career Fellow, linked to forthcoming funding opportunities from the Leverhulme Trust. 

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New group of experts to consider rule of law implications of Brexit Bill

Rt Hon Dominic Grieve QC MP, the former Attorney General, is to chair a new group of experts brought together to consider the implications of the EU (Withdrawal) Bill for the rule of law. The Expert Working Group on the EU (Withdrawal) Bill and the Rule of Law, set up by the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law in partnership with the Constitution Unit, will meet for the first time at Westminster today, Monday 9 October.

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Results of Citizens' Assembly on Brexit: UK voters want a soft Brexit 

A representative body of UK citizens today sent politicians a clear message in favour of a ‘soft’ Brexit. Faced with the range of possible outcomes, they chose to retain free movement of labour, but with the UK government exercising all available controls to prevent abuse. If a deal can’t be reached in negotiations on trade, staying in the Single Market and Customs Union was preferred to no deal at all.

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Meg Russell’s latest book: Legislation at Westminster

On 31 August 2017, Constitution Unit Director Professor Meg Russell publishes her latest book, co-authored with former Constitution Unit researcher Daniel Gover. Russell and Gover’s Legislation at Westminster: Parliamentary Actors and Influence in the Making of British Law (Oxford University Press) is the final product of a major Constitution Unit research project funded by the Nuffield Foundation, and represents the most detailed study of the legislative process in the British parliament for over 40 years. It sheds new light on the political dynamics of making law in Britain, showing parliament to be more influential than is often assumed.

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