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The Constitution Unit

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Government

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In one sense, all the Constitution Unit’s work involves government, and the Constitution Unit has worked closely with governments of all persuasions in planning and implementing their constitutional reform programmes.  It has also worked closely with opposition parties.  Because of Robert Hazell’s own background in the civil service, the Unit has particularly close connections with Whitehall; and amongst our honorary staff are senior civil servants who work with the Unit in their retirement.

Two of our recent projects were led by retired senior civil servants. Peter Waller led a study of Pre-Appointment Scrutiny Hearings, revisiting earlier work in 2009 which looked at the first 20 such hearings. Alan Cogbill led study of Non-Executive Directors on Whitehall boards, which began by compiling a database of all the NEDs and their backgrounds. Previous projects include our 2009 study of hung Parliaments which recommended the need for a Cabinet Manual in the UK. We then studied the workings of the new Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government in 2011; and that led to a study of Special Advisers in 2012-13.

Research

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Pre-appointment Scrutiny Hearings 

Many senior public appointments have been subject to scrutiny by parliamentary select committees since 2007. This project examines the impact of these processes, updating earlier Constitution Unit research published in 2010 and 2011.

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Non-Executive Directors in Whitehall

This project assessed the contribution of non-executive directors in and outside of Whitehall departmental board meetings. It was led by three former civil servants; Alan Cogbill, Hilary Jackson and Howard Webber.