» Thursday, June 21, 2007

Constitutional reform

Questioned about the scope of Government’s discussions with the Opposition, the Leader said that there were two sets of discussions – one obviously under that umbrella and another which could do so. Firstly, in relation to reform of the House of Lords, he pointed out that he had appeared before the Constitutional Affairs select committee on Tuesday to discuss the issue. Since the votes in the House of Commons in early March, there had also been the first meeting of the resumed all-party group, which he was chairing. Another would take place next week.

Secondly, in respect of party funding, the all-party group chaired by Sir Hayden Phillips had held a number of meetings, which were continuing. It was put to the Leader that he had told the Committee that he did not favour a written constitution. Mr Straw said that more and more of the UK’s constitutional arrangements had been put into "black letter law", to use a Germanic phrase, over the last ten years. In particular, he cited the Human Rights Act and devolution. There was a big agenda to continue, including House of Lords reform. Mr Straw said that his sense was that it was better to pursue it in that manner rather than to try to codify the current arrangements. Asked about the view of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, he said that was a matter for him.

Briefing took place at 15:00 | Search for related news

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