The Constitution Unit



Palace of Westminster at sunset

Parliament lies in the heart of British politics. Yet calls for parliamentary reform – of both the House of Commons and House of Lords – have been frequent, and both chambers have often been accused of weakness. The Unit's research has investigated possible reforms to both chambers, as well as the effects of reforms that have previously taken place. In addition, much of our recent work has focused on parliament's impact on policy.

The Constitution Unit's work on Parliament is led by Professor Meg Russell.


House of Commons

The Politics of Parliamentary Procedure

This project explores the process of procedural change in the UK House of Commons, to understand the extent, causes, and consequences of government influence.

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The Changing Role of the House of Lords

Ongoing research on the strength, legitimacy, influence and membership of the House of Lords, including a record of all defeats in the Lords from 2005 to present. You can also view our record of all government defeats in the House of Lords.

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MPs' Staff

This project considers the role of MPs' staff in parliament, their employment conditions, and whether they are descriptively representative of the UK's population. 

Brexit, Parliament and the Constitution

Brexit, Parliament and the Constitution

Meg Russell's 3-year Senior Fellowship through the ESRC-funded UK in a Changing Europe programme, including commentary and events on key topics and a programme of detailed research on Brexit and parliament.

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Parliament's Watchdogs

Lead by Professor Robert Hazell, this study examines watchdogs which regulate the election, remuneration and conduct of MPs, and those seeking election as MPs.

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An Elaborate Rubber Stamp? The Impact of Parliament on Legislation

A major research project on the legislative process which considers the impact of parliament on legislation before and after coalition government. This project ran from 2011-2015.

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Options for an English Parliament

Ever since the establishment of the devolved assemblies in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in the late 1990s some have proposed that England too should have a parliament of its own. This project ran from 2016-2018.

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Financial Privilege

Research into the House of Commons' use of financial privilege against amendments passed to legislation in the Lords. This project ran from 2013-2014.

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Legislative Committees at Westminster: The Case for Reform

Meg Russell's comparative project on the role and operation of Legislative Committees. This project finished in 2013.

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The Impact of House of Commons Select Committees

A collaboration between Constitution Unit and Select Committee staff which analysed the impact of committee inquiries and recommendations. This project ran from 2010-2011.