Constitutional Reform and Renewal - Justice Committee Contents

5  Conclusion

93.  We welcome the Government's commitment to constitutional reform and renewal, and its desire to restore public trust in Parliament and the political process more broadly. The Government, however, must take this opportunity to complete the "unfinished business" of its previous attempts at constitutional reform, particularly in relation to the House of Lords, and in relation to the governance of England which remains in a pre-devolution time warp.

94.  The Government's approach to constitutional reform has been ad hoc and piecemeal. Constitutional reform will determine the direction and nature of our core institutions for generations to come. It is imperative that we get this right. It must be done properly.

95.  Further reform must therefore be underpinned by a set of constitutional principles based on a proper understanding of the position and role of Parliament in relation to the other institutions of state. Individual reforms cannot be treated in isolation, so must be considered both in relation to each other and in the context of this set of principles. The Democratic Renewal Council should prioritise the clarification of constitutional principles and their strategic and consistent implementation through its proposals for reform.

96.  Without the strategic implementation of constitutional principles, proposals for change can have unintended and unforeseen constitutional consequences and risk the creation of a constitutional imbalance. The Parliamentary Standards Bill, as originally presented to the Commons, provides a stark illustration of this.

97.  In order to avoid these dangers, the Government must allow sufficient time for adequate and thorough consultation with the public and with Parliament on constitutional change. It is essential that the process for reform is transparent, considered and appropriate. If this is not achieved, not only will the legitimacy of the specific reforms be undermined, but the Government will also risk the further alienation of the public—potentially worsening the crisis that it is seeking to resolve.

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