An urgent reset is required in order to restore trust in the UK’s constitution, two top think tanks have warned.
Faith in Britain’s political system has been shaken after a “tumultuous” string of events — from the Brexit process, the Covid-19 pandemic and the cost of living crisis — a report by the Institute for Government (IfG) and a Cambridge University think tank has found.
The Review of the UK Constitution report, published today, follows an 18-month review into the constitution and calls for improvements such as beefing up parliamentary scrutiny and civil service oversight.
The report by the IfG and Cambridge’s Bennett Institute for Public Policy highlighted “a wave of scandals including bullying, sexual harassment and misconduct by individual MPs, as well as allegations of breaches of the rule of law… undermining public confidence in government”.
It said these incidents had “heightened the widespread perception politicians believe that they are above the rules they set for others”.
Former Supreme Court judge Baroness Hale, who sat on the advisory board alongside former ministers, said the suggestions were “timely, sensible and practicable proposals… which, though modest, would make real improvement in the way we are governed”.
IfG director Hannah White said the recommendations were “intended to ensure that any politician considering changing the UK’s constitution is supported with robust advice”.
And Bennett Institute co-director Mike Kenny added that there was a “growing imperative” for the public to be better consulted and their views more integrated into constitutional changes.
The report calls for: setting up a parliamentary committee on the constitution; creating an independent office; establishing a new category of protected constitutional acts; widening parliamentary scrutiny on constitutional proposals; expanding the civil service’s capacity for constitutional advice, and formally integrating public engagement via citizens’ assemblies.
The Cabinet Office has been contacted for comment.