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Thursday, July 31, 2008
By Steven L. Taylor

Via the BBC: Constitution reforms ‘need work’.

At this point the reform is in draft form. Of interest is an increase in the power by the parliament over the Prime Minister and the cabinet, especially in foreign/military affairs.

The draft report has been dubbed as needing “further work.”

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4 Responses to “Update on UK Constitutional Reform”

  1. Richard Scott Nokes Says:

    See? Again and again I tell my students of the need for revision, but do they ever listen?

    The US Constitution & Declaration of Independence went through revisions, every Shakespeare play went through revisions, and the Brits understand the importance of revising — so why do freshmen think their prose is so perfect that it defies revision?

    Also, here is clear evidence that revision will be an important part of the political process in the future:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hDNkJu8xtwo

  2. MSS Says:

    In a parliamentary system, the parliament always has absolute control over foreign/military affairs. As in everything else. It is the principal, and the cabinet its agent.

    In other words, the only way to “empower” parliament is to increase its incentive to actually use the power it already has. And the only really effective way to do that is proportional representation (i.e. getting rid of single-party majorities, thereby introducing checks and balances via coalition/minority cabinets). Anything short of that is window dressing (and Westminster already has lovely windows).

    A secondary move that would help is a fully elected upper house. (The Lords–the name would have to be changed–actually are a lot more powerful than the conventional wisdom gives them credit for being. What they are not is democratic.)

  3. Dr. Steven Taylor Says:

    @Richard Scott Nokes – Indeed!

    @MSS – Indeed, also. Clearly the Commons can do whatever it likes, but the majority party does defer heavily to the cabinet. I would be curious as the origins of the proposals (my guess is that this is in reaction to Blair and Iraq).

    I was wondering about what exact mechanism they were proposing when I read the story this morning, and your window-dressing point is well taken.

  4. mbailey Says:

    i like the revisions critique in the first comment. i’ll use it in my own classes.


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