The Constitution Unit


Constitutional Standards in Legislation

This project was led by Professor Robert Hazell and Professor Dawn Oliver. Dawn Oliver first advocated the development of legislative standards in an article in Public Law in 2006, and Robert Hazell provided supporting arguments in two other articles in Public Law, in 2004 and 2006. 

In 2013 they decided to demonstrate that a set of legislative standards could be developed, and recruited Jack Simson Caird to go through all the reports of the Lords Constitution Committee, extracting their standards and assembling them into a coherent code.

Their first report, The Constitutional Standards of the House of Lords Select Committee on the Constitution, was published in 2014. 

In 2015 they produced a second edition, covering all 168 scrutiny reports on bills published by the Constitution Committee between its creation in 2001 and May 2015: the collective output of three parliaments. The code contains some 150 constitutional standards, organised into five sections: the rule of law; delegated powers, delegated legislation and Henry VIII clauses; the separation of powers; individual rights; and parliamentary procedure. 

In 2017 they produced a third edition of the report, which updates the code to the end of the 2015-2017 Parliament. The work of extracting constitutional standards from a further 19 reports was done by Georgina Hill, a research volunteer at the Constitution Unit during the Summer of 2017; we are very grateful for her contribution to this project.