UCL News


UCL in the News: Straw's written constitution hint

13 February 2008

BBC News Justice Secretary Jack Straw has sent out a strong signal that the government is ready to draw up Britain's first ever written constitution.

He said the move would encapsulate in one document a citizen's rights, their responsibilities and an outline of how the different arms of government work. …

Mr Straw says the constitution of the UK "is in our cultural DNA".

However, "most people might struggle go put their finger on what those rights are or in which texts they are located".

"The next stage in the UK's constitutional development is to look at whether we need better to articulate those rights which are scattered across a whole host of different places and indeed the responsibilities that go with being British."…

Professor Robert Hazell, of the UCL Constitution Unit, said he thought it unlikely that Britain would ever have a written constitution.

"Constitutions don't get written in cold blood.

"Written constitutions typically follow defeat in war, a revolution, independence or the collapse of the previous system of government.

"None of those fates is likely to befall the UK. So however desirable it may be, a written constitution isn't going to happen".

But Professor Hazell said he did support the government's interest in developing a British Bill of Rights.