Who oversees the constitution?

55720I am now back on the Constitution Committee of the Lords.  On Wednesday, we took evidence from the two Cabinet Office ministers, Oliver Letwin and John Penrose, and the President and Deputy President of the Supreme Court, Lord Neuberger and Baroness Hale.  You can watch the proceedings here.

In questioning the Cabinet Office ministers, I was concerned to tease out who in Government has overall responsibility for the constitution.  Mr Letwin has responsibility for co-ordinating constitutional reform, but that is not the same as having responsibility for overseeing our constitution.  The Lord Chancellor has a particular responsibility for protecting the rule of law and is sworn to defend the independence of the judiciary.  In the event of a clash between, say, the Lord Chancellor and the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr Letwin), how would it be resolved?  Mr Letwin referred to the constitution committee of the Cabinet, but as he conceded this deals with devolution.  There is thus no minister who is, in effect, the minister for the constitution and no committee that oversees it.  All the more need, in my view, for what I have termed a constitutional convocation.

About Lord Norton

Professor of Government at Hull University, and Member of the House of Lords
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1 Response to Who oversees the constitution?

  1. Lord Norton,
    I really admire your pursuing this course. I think there is a risk but it is probably a course of action needed in a relatively large number of polities around the world.

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