Consultation on A new Magna Carta? - Political and Constitutional Reform Contents

3  Further work

Other initiatives for constitutional renewal

59. Several other initiatives have been established to promote discussion of the key constitutional issues in our democracy. The Great Charter Convention, an online collaboration between the politics departments of the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, OurKingdom, IPPR and the Department of Politics at the University of Southampton, seeks to promote "an open, public debate on where arbitrary power lies in the UK today and how we should contest and contain it."[48] ConstitutionUK, run by the LSE Institute of Public Affairs, is an online project to crowdsource ideas for a written UK constitution to be drafted by a constitutional convention which plans to convene in April 2015.[49] We welcome all initiatives which promote open public debate, and encourage public engagement with, our constitutional future.

Amendments to the blueprints

60. Respondents were asked for any recommendations for changes to their favoured option for constitutional codification, if they had one. A number of respondents proposed detailed drafting changes to the published blueprints, in particular to the blueprint for a written constitution: for example, the submission from Oxford Pro Bono Publico addressed, with extensive comparative evidence, the treatment in the written constitution blue print of the civil rights of non-nationals.[50] Our aim in publishing the blueprints has been to ensure that, if and when a decision was taken to make progress on codification, a "thoroughly scrutinised and properly devised plan" is in place "to ensure a successful outcome".[51]

61. With that aim in mind, we have invited Professor Robert Blackburn to assess the detailed proposals for revision made in the consultation responses and to revise and update the blueprints as necessary in the event that a future body charged with preparing a codified constitution calls for an authoritative text which accurately describes existing arrangements.

Consideration by the House in the 2015 Parliament

62. This Committee was established to consider political and constitutional reform for the lifetime of the present Parliament. The establishment, or re-establishment, of a committee with an express remit to examine such issues in the 2015 Parliament will depend on the will of the House which is to be elected on 7 May. Should the programme for government of the administration formed after 7 May include any elements of constitutional reform, we strongly recommend that a select committee be established to examine the Government's proposals and to keep the progress of any political and constitutional reform under regular review, to continue the work this Committee has undertaken in the present Parliament. In the absence of such a committee, we recommend that our work on political and constitutional reform, and the continuing debate on the UK's constitution, be taken up by the select committee with a remit to examine the work of the Government department with responsibility for constitutional policy.

A draft accessible summary constitution, with options for reform

63. As we indicated above, a number of the responses we have received suggested that the options for constitutional codification which we published were too dry or too detailed to engage the general reader. We recognise the requirement for a more basic document to set out the general principles which underpin the UK's constitution—whether uncodified, as at present, or codified. We are therefore publishing, as an annex to this report, a draft of an accessible written constitution based on the UK's existing constitutional arrangements.

64. The "pocket constitution" which we have published is intended as a summary of the present constitutional position. It also includes a number of alternative options to the present arrangements, many of which arise from the responses to the consultation exercise, for discussion and debate during the General Election campaign, throughout the Magna Carta anniversary year and beyond. None of the above purports to represent the settled view of all the members of the Select Committee: instead we intend this document to promote further debate on our constitutional arrangements and options for reform. In publishing it in a brief and accessible format we hope to engender the broadest possible discussion of constitutional issues. To that end, we will establish a further web survey to seek the views of members of the public on the status quo and on the alternatives we have sketched out. We recommend that the successor committee of the House with a remit to consider constitutional issues in the 2015 Parliament should collate and evaluate the responses and maintain an ongoing consultation with the public on our constitutional future.

48   The Great Charter Convention is hosted online at  Back

49   The ConstitutionUK project is hosted online at  Back

50   Oxford Pro Bono Publico (AMC0143) Back

51   A new Magna Carta?, para 11 Back

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Prepared 9 March 2015