COMMONS

Do we need a constitutional convention for UK? Evidence call

19 April 2012

The Political and Constitutional Reform Committee agreed at its meeting today to conduct a new inquiry into whether there is a need for a constitutional convention for the UK.

The inquiry aims to look at how a convention might allow a debate on the future of the Union as a whole, rather than piecemeal through a focus on specific issues or nations.

The Committee plans to hold a seminar to launch the inquiry. Further details will follow shortly.

The Committee wants to hear your views, and in particular your answers to the questions below.  You may choose to address all the questions, or to focus on those that are of particular interest to you:

Grounds and basis for establishing a convention

  • Is there a case for establishing a constitutional convention for the UK?
  • If there were to be a constitutional convention, on what basis should it be established?  What would be its legal status, or could it proceed on a more informal footing?
  • What lessons could be learned from previous constitutional conventions, in other countries?

Composition

  • What should be the composition of the constitutional convention?
  • What would be the best way of involving the public in the convention? 
  • Would there be a means of providing specific representation for England or the English regions, alongside the other components of the UK and the UK as a whole? 
  • Would the members of convention be mandated and, if so, by whom and to do what?

Remit and working methods

  • What should be included in the terms of reference for the constitutional convention?  For example, should the convention be tasked with proposing a new constitutional structure for the UK, or establishing an agreement between the different components of the UK on ways of proceeding in their relations with each other and with the UK Government and UK Parliament?
  • Are there any legal/constitutional issues requiring particular attention, such as the need to conform to the terms of the Belfast—or Good Friday—Agreement 1998?
  • How should the convention proceed?  For instance, on the basis of consensus, unanimity, qualified majority voting, or simple majority voting?  Would all the participants in the convention have equal status?  Are there any other procedural issues that should be considered at this stage?
  • How would proposals made by the convention be taken forwards?  For instance, would they require endorsement by the different Assemblies and Parliaments of the UK, or by one or more referendums?

How to respond to this paper

The deadline for written submissions is Thursday 14 June 2012.  Submissions should not significantly exceed 3,000 words unless this has been cleared in advance with the Committee secretariat.  Written responses to the Committee will be treated as evidence to the Committee and may be published. If you object to your response being made public in a volume of evidence, please make this clear when it is submitted.

Responses should be submitted by email in Microsoft Word or rich text format to pcrc@parliament.uk

If you do not have access to email, you may send a paper copy of your response to the Clerk of the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee, Committee Office, First Floor, 7 Millbank, London SW1P 3JA.

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