Constitution

This page highlights some of the current parliamentary material available on the constitution. This includes select committee reports, briefing papers on current legislation and other subjects produced by the parliamentary research services, and the latest Early Day Motions put down by MPs.

Commons Briefing Papers

DateDescription
14.11.2016Brexit and the EU Court
The High Court has appealed to the Supreme Court for a decision on whether the Government can start the Brexit process by triggering Article 50 TEU using Prerogative powers. Some press reports said the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) would have the last word on this. But can the CJEU rule on matters of UK constitutional Law? Many experts believe that the question central to the case, but not ruled on by the High Court, was whether Article 50 can be withdrawn. If it can be revoked, then the argument that Article 50 notice leads inevitably to a loss of rights under the European Communities Act 1972 might not hold. This paper looks at the questions of revocability and referral to the EU Court.
10.08.2016Constituency Casework: Judicial Review
Judicial review is a procedure that enables individuals to challenge the legality of decisions, acts and omissions of public bodies. This constituency casework briefing is designed to provide an introduction to the procedure.
28.07.2016Brexit: some legal and constitutional issues and alternatives to EU membership
This paper considers how the UK will leave the EU, some legal and constitutional issues, and possible alternatives to EU membership. What is the process for leaving the EU? Will the UK join a different grouping of states or go it alone? Will EU or UK citizens or businesses have any vested rights?
27.07.2016The Supreme Court on Devolution
This House of Commons Library Briefing Paper provides information on the Supreme Court's role in devolution. The paper explains how cases on devolution reach the Supreme Court and summarises some of the most important cases since 2009.
18.07.2016Citizens' Assemblies and Constitutional Conventions
This House of Commons Library briefing paper provides a concise history of constitutional conventions in the UK, beginning with the Scottish Constitutional Convention of 1989, the proposals for a citizens' assembly made by the Gordon Brown Government, and the 2016 pilot citizens assemblies held by a consortium of academics on the issue of devolution in England. It also sets out details of the wide-ranging Irish Constitutional Convention established in 2012, and the 2011 Icelandic National Forum and Constitutional Assembly which produced a new draft constitution.
30.06.2016Brexit: what happens next?
Now that the UK has voted to leave the EU, what will happen next? This Commons Library briefing paper looks at the immediate consequences of the vote and some of the longer term implications. This paper considers various questions about UK withdrawal from the EU and what is likely to happen in the coming weeks and months. The issues include the method of leaving the EU, continuing parliamentary scrutiny of EU business and the withdrawal negotiations, and the implications of Brexit for Scotland and Gibraltar.
30.06.2016Brexit: how does the Article 50 process work?
This Commons Library briefing paper looks at the process of withdrawing from the EU under Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union. There could be a complex and difficult negotiation lasting two years or more, or the UK could leave without settling its exit terms or its future relationship with the EU.
13.06.2016Wales Bill 2016-17
Briefing paper for the second reading of the Wales Bill 2016-17.
06.06.2016Impeachment
Impeachment was a means by which Parliament could prosecute and try individuals, normally holders of public office, for high treason or other crimes and misdemeanours. Impeachment is considered obsolete, as it has been superseded by other forms of accountability, and the rules underpinning the procedure have not been adapted to modern standards of democracy or procedural fairness
18.05.2016A British Bill of Rights?
The Conservative Party went into the 2015 General Election with a manifesto commitment to 'scrap the Human Rights Act and curtail the role of the European Court of Human Rights.' This note provides a brief introduction to the Human Rights Act 1998; the European Convention on Human Rights and the work of the European Court of Human Rights.

Lords Library Notes

DateDescription
13.09.2016Canadian Senate Reform: Recent Developments
This House of Lords Library briefing provides an overview of recent developments in the Canadian Senate appointments process and highlights the work of a special Canadian Senate Committee on Senate modernisation, which has taken evidence on the experience of the House of Lords from individuals including Lord Hope of Craighead, Convenor of the Crossbench Peers.
04.07.2016Leaving the EU: Parliament's Role in the Process
Following the result of the referendum held on 23 June 2016, this House of Lords Library briefing examines what Parliament's role would be in the process of withdrawing from the European Union in several key areas: invoking Article 50; overseeing the negotiation process; ratifying agreements; repealing and reviewing domestic legislation. This is an updated version of the briefing issued on 30 June 2016.
04.03.2016Ministerial Collective Responsibility and Agreement to Differ: Recent Developments
This Lords Library briefing provides information on ministerial collective responsibility in the light of the 2016 EU referendum.
04.03.2016The Sovereign's Ceremonial and Formal Role in Parliament Today
On 9 September 2015, Queen Elizabeth II became the longest reigning sovereign in British history. This House of Lords Library briefing focuses on the Sovereign as part of the constitution of Parliament. It captures key aspects of the role of the Sovereign as it relates, in practice, to Parliament today, with an emphasis on the House of Lords. It does this through addressing a selection of the ceremonial and formal roles of the Sovereign: the State Opening of Parliament and its prorogation and dissolution; the calling of a new Parliament, in light of the Fixed-term Parliament Act 2011; Royal Commissions and royal assent; and Queen's consent. The briefing also addresses a number of aspects of the Sovereign's communications and relationship with Parliament more broadly, through Addresses and messages and the Palace of Westminster itself. It provides facts and figures relating to Queen Elizabeth II including: the number of Acts that have received Royal Assent during her reign, Addresses given by the Queen to both Houses in Westminster Hall, and the wording of Queen Elizabeth II's first message to Parliament on her accession to the throne in 1952.
19.02.2016National Bills of Rights: International Examples
This House of Lords Library briefing examines the different models of national bills of rights adopted in a selection of countries.
05.01.2016Delegated Legislation in the House of Lords since 1997
This Lords Library briefing provides an overview of delegated legislation in the House of Lords since 1997.

Select Committee Reports

DateDescription
15.02.2012Constitution Select Committee (HL) twenty-fourth report on the Referendum on Scottish Independence.
Constitution Select Committee (HL) report [Lords]
11.01.2012Constitution Select Committee (HL) twenty-third report on Voting at the close of poll.
Constitution Select Committee (HL) report [Lords]
14.12.2011Constitution Select Committee (HL) twenty-second report on the Health and Social Care Bill:
Constitution Select Committee (HL) report [Lords]
16.11.2011Constitution Select Committee (HL) twenty-first report on Part 1 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment...
Constitution Select Committee (HL) report [Lords]
02.11.2011Constitution Select Committee (HL) twentieth report on the Protection of Freedoms Bill.
Constitution Select Committee (HL) report [Lords]

Early Day Motions

DateDescription
07.12.2010GENDER EQUALITY IN SUCCESSION TO THE THRONE
That this House notes with concern that under the rule of primogeniture men have precedence over women in succeeding to the Throne; further notes the application of gender equality ...
04.06.2009PARLIAMENTARY REFORM
That this House urges the Government to include within a constitutional renewal bill the election by secret ballot of a Business Committee of the House to arrange business whilst allowing ...
10.06.2008IRAQI REFERENDUM ON OCCUPATION
That this House notes the claim of the occupying powers in Iraq to be introducing democracy; further notes that democracy and occupation are almost certainly incompatible; takes account ...
10.06.2008PROCEDURE ON THE EU CONSTITUTIONAL TREATY
That this House notes the exceptional importance of the events of the week of 9th June 2008 to the future independence of the UK and the supremacy of Parliament; welcomes the judicial ...
15.05.2008BURMESE CONSTITUTIONAL REFERENDUM
That this House condemns the announcement by Burma's ruling junta that a new constitution was given overwhelming backing in a referendum carried out on 10th May in the midst of the ...

Glossary

  • Commons Briefing Papers (CBP) Papers providing in-depth and impartial analysis on every major piece of primary legislation and on other topics of public and parliamentary concern. Regular statistics papers are also published.
  • Early Day Motions (EDMs) - formal motions submitted by MPs in the House of Commons
  • POSTnotes (POST PN) - proactive four-page policy briefings from the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology based on reviews of the research literature, interviews with stakeholders and peer review, commissioned by the POST Board
  • Lords Library Notes (LLN) - authored publications by the research section of the House of Lords Library that provide analysis of Bills, subjects for debate in the House and other issues of interest to Members.
  • Select Committee Reports - papers produced by all select committees of both Houses