10. The three blueprints that Professor Blackburn
has produced can be summarised as follows:
Constitutional Code: this would be a document sanctioned by Parliament,
but without statutory authority, and which would set out the essential
existing elements and principles of the constitution and the workings
Constitutional Consolidation Act: this would be a consolidation
of existing laws of a constitutional nature in statute, the common
law and parliamentary practice, together with a codification of
essential constitutional conventions.
Constitution: this would be a document of basic law by which the
United Kingdom would be governed, setting out the relationship
between the state and its citizens, an amendment procedure and
elements of reform.
11. There are advantages and disadvantages to the
United Kingdom's currently uncodified constitution, and these
arguments are explored in the papers by King's College London.
We wish to be absolutely clear that we are not in this report
endorsing one view or the other. Our intention is to generate
a forward-looking debate, alongside the Magna Carta 800th
anniversary celebrations, by placing in the public domain the
results of a unique four-year research project. Like Professor
Blackburn, we believe that a consideration of detailed alternative
models showing how a constitution might be designed and drafted
will inform and advance the debate on the desirability, or not,
of codifying the constitution in one place.
Our aim has been to ensure that, if and when a decision is taken
to make progress on this issue, a thoroughly scrutinised and properly
devised plan is already in place to achieve a successful outcome.
12. We wish also to be very clear that although the
third blueprintthe Written Constitutionincludes
some changes to the United Kingdom's current constitutional arrangements,
we are not in any way endorsing or recommending these specific
changes. They are simply one example of how a written constitution
could take shape and we encourage participants to rewrite parts
or the whole of their favoured option, or submit a rousing, lyrical
introduction or preamble to their preference.
13. The blueprints could be regarded as standalone
documents, in the sense that each is an example of a particular
approach to codifying the constitution, or, as Professor Blackburn
states, they could be studied as "three stages or building
blocks to go through in the process of working towards a written
constitution of the UKidentifying the basic principles
and elements of government and the constitution; establishing
the detailed content and boundaries of existing constitutional
law as expressed in statute, the common law, parliamentary practice,
and convention; then preparing a modern documentary constitution
of fundamental law that binds the working of the state and its
relationship with its citizens."
14. Select Committees normally address their recommendations
to Government, but we hope that the leaders of all political parties
in the United Kingdom, politicians from local and central government,
academics, think tanks, and other organisations, read the research
and take part in the discussion. Above all, we hope that the
public, including school and university students, seize this unique
opportunity for the nation to debate the future of our democracy.
The constitution, written or not, should belong to the people
of the United Kingdom. The research we are publishing will enable
a large number of people to access a comprehensive source of information
about the form, if any, a codified constitution could take. We
will also produce popular guides to the research for the lay reader
15. At a time of declining membership of political
parties and public disillusionment with the political establishment,
it is a good moment to return to fundamentals. There are few things
more fundamental than the arrangements that determine how the
state operates and exercises power in a democracy, and how it
interacts with the people. We want people to discuss the blueprints
and to decide for themselves whether there is a need for a new
Magna Carta for the 21st Century and beyond. No constitution
is a panacea but it should be the framework that supports our
democracy. Our intention is for the work we are publishing to
prove a source of inspiration to all who are interested in how
the United Kingdom is governed in the future. What should the
next 800 years look like?
16. We are holding a consultation on the options
we are publishing with this report. We ask anyone who is interested
in the future of the United Kingdom's constitution to send us
their views on the questions below:
the UK need a codified constitution?
· If so,
which of the three options offers the best way forward?
needs to be included in/excluded from your favoured option if
you have one?
Comments can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or
sent by post to the Political and Constitutional Reform Select
Committee, House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA. The consultation
closes on 1 January 2015. We will then report on the responses
from the public in time for them to be taken into account ahead
of the general election.
4 Professor Robert Blackburn, Centre for Political
and Constitutional Studies, King's College London, Introduction
to the Three Illustrative Blueprints, Appendix, p 29 Back
Professor Robert Blackburn, Centre for Political and Constitutional
Studies, King's College London, Introduction to the Three Illustrative
Blueprints, Appendix, p 29 Back