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In this paper, which is the revised text of his recent lecture for Policy Exchange’s Judicial Power Project, John Larkin QC reflects on the state of the United Kingdom’s constitution. The paper discusses an aspect of an important provision of the European Convention on Human Rights — the procedural obligations under the Article 2 provision on the right to life, and its implications for how policy on the legacy of the Northern Ireland Troubles is to be made.
The startling revelation that the Labour Party is threatening to expel Trevor Phillips on grounds of ‘racism’ and ‘Islamophobia’ will be received in different ways. On the one hand, it looks like an act of folly from a party leadership whose power has been waning since the general election. Alongside this, this regrettable case is significant for the extent to which it underlines the nature of the ‘Islamophobia’ definition that has been adopted by a number of political parties and civil society groups over the last year – with Labour being one of those leading the way when the party adopted the definition in March 2019.
In 2014 Policy Exchange published the seminal report Watching the Watchmen: The future of school inspections in England. While Ofsted today is a much stronger, higher performing and robust organisation than it was in 2014, there is no public body so perfect that it cannot benefit from external scrutiny.
Universities in the UK are not yet in crisis – but they could be if they continue down their current path. In this report, based on over 50 interviews with vice-chancellors, chairs of council and other senior leaders, we set out the steps that university leaders must take if they are to put their institutions on a robust footing and regain the trust of the nation.
The Supreme Court’s prorogation judgment, Miller/Cherry, was contrary to the settled law of the constitution. This paper, which complements and completes an earlier critique, refutes attempts to deny the judgment’s revolutionary character, attempts that cannot be squared with key facts about prorogation in the run-up to the Bill of Rights 1689, with Erskine May’s Law and Practice of Parliamentary, and with the primary 20th century textbook on the law of the constitution. The paper details the factual misjudgements and injustices at the heart of the Supreme Court’s judgment, and confirms the wisdom of the law of non-justiciability that the judgment casts aside.
A UK Advanced Research Projects Agency could have a transformative impact on technological innovation in the UK – but the Government must embrace failure if it is to be a success. Learning lessons from the US, ministers must tear up the rule book of research funding bureaucracy and recognise that the majority of projects will not achieve their objectives, but that those that do will be will be transformational. The key to success will be allowing empowered and highly expert project managers to drive forward projects and allocate funding to the best people and projects wherever they can be found.
The planning system has little relevance to the country’s 21st century liberalised economy and society facing continuous change. It increases the costs of housing, living and doing business. Although the planning system has regularly been tinkered with in the past few decades, its fundamental principles are the same as when it was established in 1947 as part of a government program to establish a command-and-control economy.
To remain a competitive economy and to address the country’s housing shortage, the planning system is in urgent need of wholesale reform. This report puts forwards a blueprint for doing that.
Did the United Kingdom’s constitution work as it should have done in the process to leave the European Union? In essence, yes, says Sir Stephen Laws, Senior Fellow at Policy Exchange and a former First Parliamentary Counsel. He says the Government should resist invitations to undertake a programme of comprehensive constitutional reform, but it should be willing to consider limited changes to address weaknesses in our constitutional arrangements exposed by the Brexit process. In the Foreword, Rt Hon Lord Hague of Richmond says this “thoughtful and clear-sighted paper is a welcome warning about the dangers that [a written constitution] would bring, while making a constructive case for some necessary change”.
Why do 1.23 million people lack access to a bank account? What can be done to help the 10 million people who rely on non-standard credit? How can the Government ensure that everybody gets access to debt and financial advice?
This report, by Benjamin Barnard and Jos Henson Gric, shows how innovations in Financial Technology can improve access to banking, credit, insurance and debt advice services. It shows how the Government can encourage the one of the UK’s most innovative sectors to improve the lives of the poorest in society, particularly those on Universal Credit.
Prisons exist to keep the public safe yet in recent years the Ministry of Justice and Her Majesty’s Prisons and Probation Service has shown that they are not capable of properly managing the most dangerous offenders. This paper, by Richard Walton – a former Head of the Metropolitan Police’s Counter Terrorism Command – argues that it is time for the Home Secretary, and the Home Office, to supervise prisons as they did until 2007. The Ministry of Justice as it is currently configured should be abolished, with a new Lord Chancellor’s Department replacing it to work solely on courts and justice policy, at the same time enshrining in law and practice the independence of the judiciary.