Tuesday, 16 June 2009, 12:00AM

The New British Constitution

Professor Vernon Bogdanor FBA CBE

We have, since 1997, been undergoing a process unique in the democratic world of transforming an uncodified constitution into a codified one, piecemeal, there being neither the political will nor the consensus to do more.

The main elements of the new constitution are the Human Rights Act and devolution to the non-English parts of the United Kingdom.

The Human Rights Act and the devolution legislation, moreover, have the character of fundamental law. In practice if not in form, they limit the legal powers of Westminster, a formerly sovereign parliament, and establish a constitution which is quasi-federal in nature.

However, they do little to secure more popular involvement in politics. The next phase of constitutional reform, therefore, is likely to involve the creation of new forms of democratic engagement, so that our constitutional forms come to be more congruent with the social and political forces of the age.

The end-point of this piecemeal process might well be a fully codified or written constitution which declares that power stems not from the Queen-in Parliament, but, instead, as so many constitutions do, from 'We, the People'.

 

For more lectures by Vernon Bogdanor, Emeritus Gresham Professor of Law and current Professor of Government at the University of Oxford, please follow this link: Gresham College Lectures by Professor Vernon Bogdanor

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Vernon Bogdanor CBE is Emeritus Gresham Professor of Law, current Visiting Gresham Professor of Political History, Research Professor at King's College London, a Fellow of the British Academy and an Honorary Fellow of the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies. Prior to 2010, Professor Bogdanor Fellow of Brasenose College, is Professor of Government at Oxford University.

He has been an adviser to a number of governments, including those of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Kosovo, Israel and Slovakia. His books include The People and the Party System, Multi-Party Politics and the Constitution, Power and the People, and Devolution in the United Kingdom. He is a frequent contributor to TV, radio and the press and is a sometime special advisor to the House of Lords Select Committee on the European Communities (1982-83), and the House of Commons Public Service Committee. Most recently he was awarded the Sir Isaiah Berlin prize for Lifetime Contribution to Political Studies by the Political Studies Association.

Professor Bogdanor continues his Gresham lectures with a new series for the 2015/16 academic year entitled Political Crises Since 1945.

Professor Bogdanor's previous lecture series' are as follows:

2014/15 Six General Elections
2013/14 Britain and Europe
2012/13 Making the Weather: Six Politicians Who Shaped Our Age
2010/12 Britain in the 20th Century
2007/09 From Roosevelt to Bush: The American Presidency: Transformation and Change

All of Professor Bogdanor's past Gresham lectures can be accessed here.

Current Gresham Professor of Political History

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16 June 2009

The New British Constitution
Professor Vernon Bogdanor FBA CBE

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