The Foundations of Public Law

Principles and Problems of Power in the British Constitution

by Keith Syrett

Update for Chapter 3: The legislature

This update was compiled in January 2013

p.69, n.6


Now the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act 2011. The referendum on reforming the electoral system took place on 5 May 2011. A substantial majority of voters were in favour of retaining the existing 'first past the post' system. The final recommendations on new boundaries for electoral constituencies, which take account of a reduction in their number, will be presented to Parliament in October 2013. However, it is probable that the changes will not come into effect until 2018 following a House of Lords amendment to the Electoral Registration and Administration Bill 2012 to that effect: see 'Tories furious as Lib Dems delay boundary review', The Guardian, 15 January 2013.

p.69, paragraph 2

It was reported in late 2012 that at least 80 new life peers were to be appointed to the House of Lords, which would make the House the second largest legislative chamber in the world (behind the National People's Congress of the People's Republic of China). See 'Political parties in push to create dozens of new life peers',The Guardian, 24 November 2012.

p.71, n.12

The House of Lords Reform Bill 2012, if enacted, would have reduced the membership of the Lords to 450. 80% of the members would have been elected, serving a non-renewable fifteen-year term of office. They would have represented regions of the UK and one-third of seats would have been contested at elections every five years. The remaining 20% of members (including twelve bishops of the Church of England) would have been appointed. All hereditary peers would have been removed. The Bill was withdrawn following significant opposition in the House of Commons, particularly from backbench MPs in the Conservative Party.

p.72, n.14

Now the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011.

p.79, paragraph 2

The passage of the highly controversial Bill which became the Health and Social Care Act 2012 afforded an unusual variant on the normal legislative process. Following completion of the Committee stage, the Secretary of State for Health announced an intention to 'pause, listen and engage and subsequently to bring forward amendments to improve the plans further in the normal way': House of Commons Debates, 4 Apr 2011, col. 767 (A. Lansley). Following this process of engagement, the Bill was recommitted to a Public Bill Committee in June 2011, receiving Royal Assent in March 2012.

p.80, paragraph 2

In a review published in November 2012, the Commons Select Committee on Procedure concluded that the Backbench Business Committee had 'been welcomed as a successful and effective innovation' and saw no need for substantial changes to the practices or procedures which had developed around backbench business and the Committee's work: Procedure Committee, Review of the Backbench Business Committee, HC 168 (2012-13), [8].

p.84, n.59

See now Cabinet Office, The Cabinet Manual (2011), [2.23].

p.84, n.60

Now the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011.

p.86, n.69

The House Business Committee had not yet been established as of January 2013.

p.95, paragraph 1

The proposals for fixed-term Parliaments have been given legislative form in the 2011 Act. The proposals for reform of the electoral system were rejected in the referendum of May 2011.

p.96, n.103

See also J. Goldsworthy, Parliamentary Sovereignty: Contemporary Debates(Cambridge, CUP, 2010).

p.101, n.120

The proposed 'Great Repeal Bill' took the form of the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012: its content related primarily to matters of criminal law and evidence.

p.101, paragraph 1

For discussion of the forthcoming referendum on independence for Scotland, see update for Chapter 6.
p.103, n.132 However, the European Union Act 2011 appears to bind future Parliaments in 'manner and form' by requiring that referendums should take place in respect of certain changes to the Union. For discussion, see update for Chapter 6.

p.103, paragraph 2

In R (on the application of Brynmawr Foundation School Governors) v Welsh Ministers [2011] EWHC 519 (Admin), Beatson J accepted Laws LJ's classification in Thoburn v Sunderland City Council of the devolution statutes (in this case, the Government of Wales Act 2006) as 'constitutional' in character. He indicated that this would affect the manner in which the court undertook the task of interpretation of the statute. However, the specific question of whether status as a 'constitutional statute' served to modify the doctrine of implied repeal, as Laws LJ had suggested, was not addressed.

p.111, paragraph 1

Section 18 of the European Union Act 2011 states that directly applicable and directly effective European Union law only takes effect in the legal order of the United Kingdom by virtue of statute (primarily, section 2 of the European Communities Act 1972). This provision was not intended to change the legal position, and it does not assist in determining whether the European Communities Act can be impliedly repealed, or whether legislation which explicitly contravenes EU law should be followed by the courts. However, it does emphasise that key political actors in the UK regard the status of EU law in the legal order, and the implications which this holds for sovereignty, as matters lying solely within the control of the UK Parliament. For discussion, see M. Gordon and M. Dougan, 'The United Kingdom's European Union Act 2011: "who won the bloody war anyway?"' (2012) 37 European Law Review 3.

p.113, paragraph 2

For discussion of the forthcoming referendum on independence for Scotland, see update for Chapter 6.

p.114, n.179

For further discussion of the future of the Human Rights Act 1998 following the publication of a report by the Commission on a Bill of Rights in December 2012, see update for Chapter 5.

p.115, paragraph 2

A statement that the Government wished the House of Commons to proceed with a Bill irrespective of compatibility with Convention rights was made in respect of what became the Communications Act 2003, since it was uncertain that a ban on political advertising contained within that statute was compatible with Article 10 of the Convention (freedom of expression). In R (on the application of Animal Defenders International) v Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport [2008] UKHL 15, the House of Lords declined to issue a declaration of incompatibility in respect of the ban. The case was heard by the European Court of Human Rights in March 2012 and final judgment is awaited.