Constitution Commission

Update 09-04-2015: I've made a couple of changes to reflect the comments that were made in the first stage, shown in bold. It's still expressed in terms of an idea, rather than a draft clause.------------------------------------------------------

The constitution would provide politicians with the rule book for their business; as such, it should not be down to politicians to change it / veto amendments to it.

We already have a Law Commission which reviews areas of law which might benefit from updating. I suggest a Constitutional Commission to play a similar role with regard to the constitution.

  • On a periodic basis, it should review the operation of the constitution as a whole, and propose amendments to be put to a referendum. (I'd prefer 1 Yes/No question per proposed amendment / associated set of amendments, rather than a single Yes/No to the whole set, but that might be logistically difficult)
  • Parliament should be able to refer specific matters to the Commission between those regular reviews
  • Where the courts have identified conflicting provisions within the Constitution, or a conflict is identified with our international obligations, the Supreme Court (or the Court of Session where no appeal lies to the Supreme Court) must refer the matter to the Commission within 30 days, for a proposed amendment dealing only with the relevant matter to be submitted to a referendum.

The Commission should be made up of politicians from the UK and national legislatures, and local government; leading academics and practitioners in the field (including members (or perhaps former members) of the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal, and Court of Session); and public volunteers. Politicians should be a minority.

All amendments should need more than a simple majority of those voting, whether that be the support of, say, 60% of voters, or a participation threshold.

"Protected provisions" should need a higher level of support. I make no proposal here as to what the protected provisions should be, or the level of support.

edited on Apr 9, 2015 by Rob G

Debra Storr Apr 5, 2015

Consideration of amendments that impact more than one tier (assuming we have devolution or federalism) need also to be considered.  

Under federalism, I would expect tiers impacted to also need to agree.

under devolution, the situation is less clear cut but I would expect the same to apply.

 

Daniel Regan Apr 13, 2015

Hi All, 

It would be great if you could look at this similar post and vote/comment to let us know which one you prefer! 

https://constitutionuk.com/category/view#/post/99085

 

Rob G Apr 13, 2015

Would it come as a huge surprise if I said I preferred this one? ;-) (No disrespect to the author of the other!)

Users tagged:

BananaPlant Apr 14, 2015

I seem to prefer this one too.

View all replies (2)

Debra Storr Apr 13, 2015

Can I sit on the fence?

id hope the constitution would not be in a state of significant flux as to require a standing commission.

But i agree that we need rules re amendments - and supermajorities should be required - and for some provisions there may need to be extra protections.   

But I agree it should be examined periodically - and certainly any body reviewing should have a minority of politicians.  

Malcolm Ramsay Apr 13, 2015

I certainly prefer this one to the one Daniel linked to.

I don't see any need for the reference to the Court of Sessions – I'd suggest leaving the obligation with the Supreme Court and let the courts amend their internal procedures to suit. And I'm not sure the 30 day provision adds anything.

I agree with Debra that a standing commission would hopefully be redundant in the long term but provision to convene a commission would always be necessary.

BananaPlant Apr 14, 2015

I seem to prefer this one too.

Daniel Regan Apr 16, 2015

Hi all,

Seems like this idea is more popular than the idea I linked to above. Can we try to work on shortening and refining the content of the idea so that it looks somewhat like a constitutional clause?

Rob G Apr 16, 2015

I always struggle with shortening things I've written, I normally end up making them even wordier! The figures in bold in square brackets are my suggestion for what's appropriate - comments so far have suggested intervals between reviews of from 5 years to 50 years...

A Commission shall be established to review the functioning of this Constitution on a regular basis, and to recommend to the people any amendments it feels to be desirable.

A law will regulate the membership of the Commission, the frequency with which it shall report, and the procedures for submitting its proposals to a referendum. Such legislation may not permit more than [one-third] of its members to be serving members of any legislative body within the United Kingdom, nor that the maximum interval between reports should exceed [twenty] years.

Members of the public, as well as members of legislative bodies, may petition the Commission with proposals for constitutional amendments. The Commission may adopt such processes for the submission and consideration of such petitions as it deems appropriate, following consultation with all legislative bodies within the United Kingdom.

Where a Superior Court* declares two (or more) provisions of this Constitution to be inconsistent, or finds a provision of this Constitution to be incompatible with the United Kingdom's international commitments, the Commission shall immediately consider the matter, and may propose rectifying amendments outside the usual review period specified in the legislation referred to above.

*The fact that the Supreme Court isn't the final court of appeal for many Scottish cases derives from the Act of Union, and I'm not taking it for granted that that is being wholly swept away by the Constitution.

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