1,000 words: Constitutional conventions

When the United Kingdom Parliament wishes to make law by enacting a piece of legislation, three things must normally happen. First, the ‘bill’ (as legislation is known until it is enacted) must be approved by a majority of MPs in the House of Commons. Second, unless a special procedure under the Parliament Acts 1911 and … Continue reading 1,000 words: Constitutional conventions

The UK constitution under pressure: A lost age of civility?

Recently, I have been reflecting on the question: ‘Does the UK constitution still work?’ Of course, the question is value-laden. For one thing, it implicitly assumes that, whether or not it works now, the UK constitution at least once worked adequately — an assumption that is not universally shared. And buried within the question is … Continue reading The UK constitution under pressure: A lost age of civility?

Can the Government veto legislation by advising the Queen to withhold royal assent?

During an interview on the Today programme on Radio 4 (here, beginning two hours and ten minutes into the broadcast), Sir Stephen Laws made — or at least appeared to accede to — an arresting suggestion about the withholding of royal assent from legislation. In particular, he appeared to endorse the view that if the … Continue reading Can the Government veto legislation by advising the Queen to withhold royal assent?

The Supreme Court’s judgment in the Scottish Continuity Bill case

Earlier this week, the UK Supreme Court gave judgment in relation to the “Scottish Continuity Bill” [2018] UKSC 64. The matter reached the Court through a reference made under section 33(1) of the Scotland Act 1998, according to which the Court has jurisdiction to rule on “the question of whether a [Scottish] Bill or any … Continue reading The Supreme Court’s judgment in the Scottish Continuity Bill case

Confidence motions and the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011

The House of Commons Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee (PACAC) has today published an interim report on the effect of confidence motions in the light of the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 (FTPA). The report helpfully cuts through confusion that has developed in this area since the Act was passed under the 2010–15 Conservative-Liberal Democrat … Continue reading Confidence motions and the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011

Strong and Stable? The British Constitution and the 2017 General Election

In this article, first published in Counsel magazine, I consider how constitutional matters influenced the 2017 general election — and what the future constitutional implications of the election generally, and of a hung Parliament in particular, might be.