Hello, I’m Graham Allen, I’m the Chair of
one of Parliament’s select committees, the Political and Constitutional Reform Select Committee,
and I’m talking to you from the lobby of the House of Commons because I need your help.
Parliament needs to ensure that our democracy is ever stronger, and one of the things we’re
going to do is consult with you, and ask your opinion on a number of things around “Do we
need a written constitution? Do we need to strengthen our politics? And what ideas do
you have to contribute?” So lots of countries do have a written constitution,
or a codification of their laws, but we don’t in the UK, and perhaps we should join that
democratic family and have a written constitution of our own. Perhaps we should know the rules.
So in 2015 we are going to be celebrating the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta,
and we should enjoy those celebrations, but as well as being a backward look to see things
like the establishment of the rule of law, and to ensure power is distributed properly,
the things that they did in these days. We also need to look forward, we need to see
whether we need a new constitutional settlement, in other words a new Magna Carta. And maybe
we do, and that’s one of the questions that I’m going to ask you to think about. “Do we
need a written constitution? And if so, what should it look like?”
Let’s have a look at the document that my Select Committee has produced which actually
outlines a number of options. Firstly, that we should stay as we are, and
there are arguments both for and against that are in the document that I’d like you to have
a look at. Secondly, that we don’t need a full blown written constitution, that we could
actually do something of lesser scale, perhaps the Cabinet Manual could be put into some
sort of Parliamentary framework. Perhaps all the existing laws could be pulled together
in one place. But that’s for you to choose, and whichever option you choose, you then
need to tell us what are the changes you’d like to see. And particularly, if you plump
for a written constitution, do you think our draft has got it right? Do you think we’re
right on the powers of the Prime Minister? On the strength of local government? On devolution?
On whether we should elect the second chamber, behind me here?
There are lots of questions that we need you to have a look at, and if you could do that
seriously and send us the evidence, your views, we will put those things all together, by
about January the 1st 2015, and actually produce a Report for Parliament, and for Parliament
to consider. Let us know what your views are, we’ll take them seriously, and we’ll produce
a document that we think you’ll be proud of. Thank you so much.