Constitutional Affairs

Constitutional Affairs

Summary

Dr Michael Pinto-Duschinsky was appointed in March 2012 as senior consultant on constitutional affairs to Policy Exchange. This role follows his membership in 2011-12 of the Commission on a Bill of Rights, a body set up by Britain's Coalition Government to provide advice on the controversial issue of reform of the country's Human Rights Act as well as reform of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. In 2011, Policy Exchange published his study titled Bringing Rights Back Home: Making human rights compatible with parliamentary democracy in the UK. In 2010-11, he was a member of the academic panel appointed to advise another official UK body, the Committee on Standards in Public Life, on its investigation into the reform of party funding in Britain. He also acted as the Committee's consultant on comparative political finance.

Policy Exchange has established a unit specialising in constitutional affairs because our established system of government is under question as never before. Those who advocate the transformation of the UK into a country with political systems more akin to those of Continental Europe have dominated the debate for the last quarter century or more. The assault on the Westminster Model of democracy is all the more remarkable because aspects of it have gone largely unnoticed.

We do not pretend that our institutions work perfectly. They can and should adapt to modern circumstances. But national elections, political parties and a sovereign House of Commons are – for all their shortcomings – the indispensable keys to our liberties.

Policy Exchange works across the party divides on the great issues of the day. We approach constitutional affairs in the same spirit – making it a particularly fertile area of inquiry for a think tank such as ours.

  • Our work will consist of a mixture of longer studies – which will be published periodically – and shorter commentaries on the Policy Exchange website on issues of topical relevance.
  • Our website will act as a 'clearing house' for good ideas on constitutional affairs – and will criticise bad ones by drawing attention to articles and publication on constitutional affairs which readers may otherwise have missed.
  • Through our constitutional page, we will provide links to relevant websites of bodies and persons such as the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee of the House of Commons, the Electoral Commission, Advisory Committee on Public Appointments, UK Constitutional Law Group and the Constitution Unit.
  • Apart from publications and studies of particular constitutional issues, we aim to present an overall vision of the future of UK democracy which will bring home to the public the fundamental issues at stake. We also aim to organise occasional seminars and events.

 

Recommended Reading

Submission of Lord Justice Carnwath to the Commission on a Bill of Rights

The submission was made on behalf of the Judicial Executive Board in December 2011. But although this and some 900 other submissions were intended for publication, the Commission omitted to put them on its website – citing insufficient resources. It appears to suggest that there is a limit to Parliamentary Sovereignty and to what it refers to as "merely majoritarian democracy". We feel it is important for Lord Carnwath's memorandum of evidence to be placed as was intended all along into the public domain, especially in view of its controversial contents.

 

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