Publication date: 12 August 2016
Event: Five years as Lord Speaker: reflections on the Lords and its future. A conversation with Baroness D'Souza.
Baroness D'Souza is coming to the end of her five-year term as Lord Speaker, being only the second ever holder of this position.
Publication date: 4 August 2016
Constitution Unit members have appeared frequently in the media in recent weeks to discuss the processes that will be involved if the UK is to leave the European Union following the referendum on 23 June:
Publication date: 8 July 2016
Following the shocking murder yesterday afternoon of the MP for Batley and Spen, Jo Cox, campaigning for the EU referendum was suspended. The planned UCL EU Referendum Debate, which had been due to feature leading figures from both campaigns, was therefore changed into a Meet the Experts Q&A. A panel of academics with expertise in the politics and economics of the EU and the processes around the referendum answered a wide range of questions from audience members. The panellists were:
Publication date: 17 June 2016
On 2 June, the Constitution Unit hosted its fourth Brexit seminar. Our panellists – Brian O’Connell, UK Consultant Director of the British Irish Chamber of Commerce, Sara Hagemann, Assistant Professor at the LSE European Institute, Agata Gostyńska-Jakubowska, Research Fellow at the Centre for European Reform, and Alan Posener, Correspondent on Politics and Society for Die Welt – discussed the impact that Brexit would have on the other EU member states.
Publication date: 15 June 2016
A group of over 250 academics have signed an open letter in the Telegraph to criticise the deliberate misinformation circulated by campaigners on both sides of the Brexit debate, and express serious concerns about the effects on the public's ability to make an informed choice on 23 June.
Publication date: 14 June 2016
The latest edition of the Constitution Unit newsletter, Monitor is now available to download.
Publication date: 9 June 2016
Publication date: 8 June 2016
On 19 May, the Constitution Unit hosted its third Brexit seminar. Our panellists Professor Sionaidh Douglas-Scott, Queen Mary University of London, Professor Jim Gallagher of Nuffield College, Oxford, Professor Cathy Gormley-Heenan, University of Ulster, and Dr Rachel Minto, Cardiff University discussed the impact that Brexit would have on Devolution and the Union. This briefing paper, written by Robert Hazell and Alan Renwick, explores this topic in further depth. It opens by explaining that public opinion is much more pro-EU in Scotland and Northern Ireland than in England and Wales; this creates the possibility of a divided, and divisive, referendum result if the different nations in the UK vote in different ways. The paper then discusses the process of withdrawal, how the devolved nations would be represented during the Brexit negotiations, and whether a vote for Brexit would trigger a second independence referendum in Scotland. It concludes by considering the long term policy consequences of Brexit, in terms of the scope for greater policy differentiation between the different nations of the UK, and the scope for the devolved nations to develop different relationships with the EU.
Publication date: 26 May 2016
Meg Russell on Radio 4's Westminster Hour discussing the relationship between the Conservative government and the Lords
Publication date: 23 May 2016
Press Release: Scotland, Wales and Ireland point to how governments should be formed in hung Parliaments
In their recent elections Scotland, Wales and the Republic of Ireland all saw the return of a hung Parliament in which no party gained an overall majority. Under their constitutions the first business of the newly elected Parliament is to elect the head of the new government. That is what happened in Ireland on 6 May, and this week in Scotland on 17 May and in Wales on 18 May. In a new report published today by the Constitution Unit at UCL and the Department of Politics at Oxford University the authors suggest that is what should also happen at Westminster. Instead of the Queen having to decide who should be Prime Minister before Parliament meets, the first business of a newly elected House of Commons should be to select the Prime Minister, who would then be formally appointed by the Queen.
Publication date: 20 May 2016
On 5 May, the Constitution Unit hosted its second Brexit seminar. Our panellists - Kenneth Armstrong, Professor of European Law (Cambridge), Simon Hix, Professor of Political Science (LSE) and Sir Stephen Wall, former UK Permanent Representative to the European Union - discussed the impact that Brexit would have on the EU and its political system.
This briefing paper, written by Oliver Patel and Christine Reh, explores this topic in further depth. Drawing on the seminar, it outlines the UK's contribution to the EU and argues that Brexit would have a significant impact on the EU's political system. In the short-term, British disengagement could undermine initiatives such as TTIP and the Capital Markets Union. In the long-term, Brexit would change the EU’s balance of power. It is particularly likely to strengthen protectionist forces and social democrats. However, Germany’s position could also be strengthened. It is also likely to undermine the EU's foreign policy ambitions.
The paper is part of a wider project on the UK and the EU. The project consists of a series of seminars, with each seminar followed by a briefing paper and video on the same topic. There are two more seminars and briefing papers, as well as a major debate, prior to the referendum, details of which can be found here.
Publication date: 18 May 2016
House of Commons committee backs Meg Russell's evidence on the Strathclyde review and wider Lords reform
A new report from the House of Commons Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee (PACAC) into the Strathclyde review on the House of Lords' powers has strongly supported arguments made in evidence by the Unit's Director Professor Meg Russell.
Publication date: 12 May 2016
Publication date: 6 May 2016
On 21 April, the Constitution Unit hosted its first Brexit seminar. Our panellists - Lord Lisvane, former Clerk of the House of Commons, Sir Simon Fraser, former Permanent Under-Secretary of the Foreign Office and Professor Hussein Kassim, author of The European Commission of the Twenty-First Century – discussed the impact that Brexit would have on Whitehall and Westminster.
This briefing paper, written by Nicholas Wright and Oliver Patel, explores this topic in further depth. Drawing on the seminar, it asks: what are the immediate political consequences of a vote to leave the EU? What would the withdrawal process entail and how would it impact on Parliament and the civil service? And, what would be the long-term impact of Brexit on Whitehall and Westminster? The evidence indicates that Brexit would have a significant impact on Whitehall and Westminster, especially during the withdrawal process.
Publication date: 4 May 2016
Publication date: 13 April 2016
Publication date: 12 April 2016
Publication date: 8 March 2016
Publication date: 1 March 2016
Publication date: 25 February 2016
Publication date: 15 February 2016
Meg Russell's Lords Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee evidence on the Strathclyde review and the Lords
Publication date: 10 February 2016
Publication date: 8 February 2016
New Book: Faces on the Ballot: The Personalization of Electoral Systems in Europe, by Alan Renwick and Jean-Benoit Pilet
Publication date: 4 February 2016
Press Release: Independent review recommends politicians say NO to Draft Wales Bill unless major changes are made
A report by an independent review group consisting of constitutional and legislative experts will today (Monday 1 February 2016) say that they could not recommend that politicians in Cardiff Bay and Westminster support the Draft Wales Bill in its current form.
Publication date: 1 February 2016
Meg Russell has given evidence to the House of Commons Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee (PACAC) on the circumstances surrounding the Strathclyde review of the House of Lords' powers, and its possible implications on Tuesday 19 January 2016. The session can be watched on the parliament website or read the full transcript.
Publication date: 20 January 2016
The report published today by Lord Strathclyde into powers of the House of Lords could facilitate a wider deal on the next stage of Lords reform, say experts at UCL's Constitution Unit. The Strathclyde report proposes a reduction in the chamber's powers over secondary legislation, which is likely to prove controversial with members of the Lords, and particularly with the Labour opposition. But there are also changes that members of the Lords themselves urgently want: in particular control over the chamber's size, and unregulated prime ministerial appointments. House of Lords expert Professor Meg Russell therefore suggests that there could now be a deal to be struck.
Publication date: 17 December 2015
Publication date: 14 December 2015