The Constitution Unit



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The Constitution Unit has worked closely with governments of all persuasions in planning their constitutional reform programmes; and with opposition parties.  A good example is our study of Minority and Multi-Party Government in Canada, New Zealand and Scotland (2009), which led to development of the UK Cabinet Manual in 2010.  Robert Hazell and Ben Yong then undertook a special study of the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition and how it worked in its early years (2012).

Other projects have looked at specific sources of advice and expertise to government.  These include Ben Yong and Robert Hazell’s detailed study of Special Advisers (2014), which also produced a Handbook for new Spads, and other Resources.  Other studies have looked at Ministers from outside Parliament (2010), and the Role of Government Lawyers (2012-13), both by Ben Yong; and a project on the Role of Non-Executives in Whitehall (2018), led by three former senior civil servants. 


Prerogative powers project

Prerogative Powers

Professor Robert Hazell is part of a SSHRC-funded research project which compares how the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand are seeking to regulate prerogative powers.

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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. 

Special Advisers

Special advisers

It is difficult to discuss the role and impact of special advisers in government without having an evidence base from which to work. this project aimed to remedy this by constructing a database and interviews with special advisers, their ministers and civil servants.

pre appointment scrutiny committee

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.