Constitutional standards

Lord Norton

On Monday, I chaired a meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on the Constitution.  The speakers were Professor Dawn Oliver, of University College London, and Jack Simson Caird, of Queen Mary College, addressing their report, published by the Constitution Unit, on The Constitutional Standards of the House of Lords Select Committee on the Constitution.  (You can read the report here.)  The report draws together the constitutional standards advanced by the Committee in the 149 reports it has published since it was established in 2001.  The standards are grouped thematically, encompassing for example the rule of law, separation of powers, and individual rights.

There was a valuable discussion as to how to utilise the research. The Political and Constitutional Reform Committee in the Commons has made the case for a Code of  Legislative Standards, but the standards proposed are essentially to do with process.  This report deals with constitutional principles and provides not only a useful document for the Constitution Committee in examining Bills (and reporting to the House when a Bill meets the two P’s test – affecting a principal part of the Constitution and raising an issue of principle), but also for Government in drafting Bills.  It can serve as a useful discipline, enabling Government to avoid provisions that breach the standards already advanced by the Committee.

If the Government are not minded to accept what is in effect a code of constitutional standards, then there is nothing to stop the House endorsing it as a code.  I was the first Chairman of the Constitution Committee and the Committee has gone from strength to strength since, being especially influential in the current Parliament.  This report is not only a testimony to its work over the past thirteen years, but a valuable basis for ensuring that the standards developed by the Committee are recognised and utilised in the scrutiny of public legislation.

2 comments for “Constitutional standards

  1. MilesJSD
    18/07/2014 at 10:42 am

    How is the civilisational essential of “Sustainworthy-Sustainability” made safe by this Constitution Matter ?

    Instantial question thereto:
    Shouldn’t a Sustainworthy or Sustainable Constitution set limits to [Environmental] Destructivity, Wastage, Extinction,
    and to both Human-Population and Lifesupports-Consumption ?

    • MilesJSD
      20/07/2014 at 1:13 pm

      Might it be added here:
      How does The Constitution make itself plain-and-democratically-practicable sense to the ‘normal’ citizen/person ?

      and how therein head & detail not only (e.g.)
      the Separation of Powers, but
      the Integration [‘Resolution’ – ‘Win-Win-Win’ fine-tuning’]
      of each and all of those Powers,
      including as well as the ‘Home Internal’ the ‘Global-and-Foreign-Relationships’ ?

      Instance from TV News today Sn200714,
      with Aidan White Journalism ‘watchdog’ being in-depth two-y interviewed on RT’s ‘Worlds Apart’:

      The worldwide Media Issue is (‘) Evidently no world-news channel can be trusted to be impartlal and to not avoid criticising its own Country’s Government or ‘Unilateral-Interest'(‘).
      Therefore
      (‘) How to get Constitutions to require All-Round and Detailed-Contextual News and Documentaries delivery direct to the Public, and up-front for immediate democratic further-fact-finding-and sharing, and discussion in time to feed-back upwards to Media, and to Parliament for the essential parliamentary-debating timeframes ;

      and primarily ‘trumping’
      any secondarily-legislative diluting, ‘cornering’, spin-doctoring, and short-term-political-gains-serving, by Executive Governance, Private-Members, and Lobbying Powers ?(‘)

      Since the UK Media must serve under an effectively-working Participatory-Democracy,
      how does the Democratic UK Constitution address our need for Governance-Level-Responsible, Factual, ‘Uncut’ and Unbiased Information & Scrutiny-Factors ?

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