Labour Parties Reforms In 1997 Essay

1086 words - 5 pages

After the Labour party’s strong victory in the 1997 general election, winning 179 seats, they have made moves and provisions towards constitutional reform. Indeed, the two prime ministers; Tony Blair and Gordon Brown have done much for reform over the years, as illustrated by devolution and the human rights act. Indeed, they made provision for reform in 4 key areas, modernisation, and greater protection of rights, democratisation and decentralisation. However, it can be argued that their reform has been limited, and much more can be done for constitutional reform. 

Firstly, it is clear that the modernisation aspects of the reform have been severely limited. Indeed, this can be illustrated ...view middle of the document...

This once united the three branches of the state, yet it has now been separated. The Chancellor is now merely a member of the executive. Furthermore, there have been significant modernising reforms within the House of Commons in recent years. These have included the increase in use of Westminster hall for debates, the publication of bills two weeks in advance to increase scrutiny, and the change in prime ministers questions, from the once two 15 minute questions, to once half an hour slot. Therefore these reforms have strengthened the UK constitution. 

In addition, there has been weak reform with the protection of rights. Indeed, the human rights act (2000) is merely semi-entrenched. This means that its provisions can be put aside by Parliament, which has been done through the Declaration of incompatibility. The government can ask Parliament to pass legislation which infringes with the human rights act, under cases of national security. This was the case with the Terrorism act (2001)- emergency legislation passed in two days which suspended the Habeas Corpus Act and could have someone imprisoned indefinitely. In addition, the freedom of information act (2000), was to allow for the government to become more open and transparent by allowing for citizens to see documents which affect them. However, the Justice Secretary can veto requests if they believe that it hinders with national security. This was the case with Jack Straw and the cabinet meetings over the Iraq War and Devolution. Therefore it is clear that more can be done for the protection of our rights, possibly by creating a Bill of Rights, which would entrench citizen’s rights clearer. It is clear that reform of the constitution has not gone far enough. 

Furthermore, the democratisation aspects of the constitution can also be shown to be limited. Indeed, the Labour party promised to make provisions towards electoral reform. This has occurred in the devolved assemblies, which utilise proportional representation systems such as the additional member system- however, it has yet to occur in Parliament. This is because any governing party who is able to achieve a majority of the seats in the commons, do not want to change the system of first past the post of simple-plurality voting, as they do well under this. Also, aspects of...

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