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Jack Simson Caird

Biography Dr Jack Simson Caird is Senior Research Fellow in Parliaments and the Rule of Law at the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law. He joined the Bingham Centre in July 2018. Prior to joining the Bingham Centre, Jack was the constitutional law specialist in the House of Commons Library, where he led the Library's work on the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill. Jack was a lecturer in Public Law at the University of Sussex from 2014 to 2015. His academic work has focused on the UK Parliament's…

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Murray Hunt

Biography Murray Hunt is the Director of the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law. He has a lifelong interest in the ways and means by which the values a society considers fundamental attain and keep a special normative status, how that special status can be reconciled with a commitment to representative democracy, and how to get practitioners and theorists to talk to each other about these questions so that practice is informed by theory, and theory informed by practice. From 2004 to 2017,…

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UN General Assembly Side Event on Parliaments and Human Rights

A side event at the UN General Assembly in New York on Increasing Parliaments' Engagement with Human Rights took place on Monday, 14 October 2019.  The side event was co-organized by the AHRC-funded Parliaments, Rule of Law and Human Rights research project led by Murray Hunt, Director of the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law and Visiting Professor of Law at the University of Oxford, and the PI on the project. The side event was attended by approximately 70 people, including ambassadors…

PARLIAMENTS

Increasing parliaments' engagement with human rights

Increasing parliaments' engagement with human rights  Event Details Enhancing the role of parliaments in the protection and realisation of human rights is emerging as a crucial way to bridge the "implementation gap" in human rights. Numerous parliaments around the world have started to prioritize human rights and engage with the UN human rights mechanisms,…

PARLIAMENTS

The Supreme Court and Parliament: The Constitutional Status of Checks and Balances

There have been two competing visions of the constitution battling it out since the Brexit referendum in 2016, which David Howarth described on this blog  as the Whitehall view and the Westminster view. The Whitehall view is that the UK constitution, and the relationship between Parliament and Government in particular, is designed to allow the Government of the day to deliver its promises to the electorate. Parliament's role is to scrutinise how those promises, as well the everyday decisions…

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Process of discovery

What Brexit has taught us so far: with Parliament standing prorogued, the Commons Speaker gives a robust defence of Parliament's role as a check on executive 'malpractice' and pledges all the 'procedural creativity' necessary. On 12 September 2019, John Bercow MP, the Speaker of the House of Commons, delivered the Annual Bingham Lecture , entitled 'Process of Discovery: what Brexit has taught us (so far) about Parliament, Politics and the UK Constitution' to a packed Middle Temple Hall.…

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The Benn-Burt Extension Act: A roadblock to a No-deal Brexit?

Introduction: Extension and the Rule of Law On 9 September, the EU (Withdrawal) (No.2) Act 2019   ('Benn-Burt Extension Act') received Royal Assent. The Benn-Burt Extension Act imposes a statutory duty upon the Prime Minister (if the relevant conditions are met) to request and accept an extension of the withdrawal negotiating period under Article 50(3) TEU. However, the Prime Minister has repeatedly stated  that he will not request such an extension, ostensibly in clear conflict…

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Weekly Update

On 12 September, the Speaker of the House of Commons, the Rt Hon John Bercow MP gave the Sixth Annual Bingham Lecture in Middle Temple Hall. The Speaker's Lecture was titled: 'Process of Discovery: What Brexit has taught us (so far) about Parliament, Politics and the UK Constitution'. The Speaker's lecture was live streamed and footage is available here . The lecture was covered by the Guardian, ITV news, the BBC, the Huffington Post and the Financial Times. The Speaker's lecture…

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Sixth Annual Bingham Lecture

On 12 September, the Speaker of the House of Commons, the Rt Hon John Bercow MP gave the Sixth Annual Bingham Lecture in Middle Temple Hall. The Speaker's Lecture was titled: 'Process of Discovery: What Brexit has taught us (so far) about Parliament, Politics and the UK Constitution'. The Speaker's lecture was live streamed and footage will be available on our website in due course. The lecture was covered by the Guardian , ITV news , the BBC , the Huffington Post  and the…

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Brexit and the UK Political and Constitutional Crisis: Prorogation and the Case for Constitutional Reform

The Government's decision to prorogue Parliament on 9 September (the Brexit Prorogation) has exposed an uncomfortable truth: the UK constitution does not provide strong legal limits on some of the executive's most constitutionally significant powers. The legality of the government's decision to request a prorogation will be determined by the Supreme Court on 19 September. Whether or not the Supreme Court decides that the government's decision was unlawful, the Brexit prorogation has highlighted…

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In a Democracy the Rule of Law means Parliament is supreme over the Executive

Murray Hunt considers why the Rule of Law is relevant to the current constitutional confrontation between the UK Government and Parliament Whenever the political temperature rises dramatically, invocation of the Rule of Law is seldom far behind. It is frequently enlisted by both sides in a political dispute, as a high-minded weapon to deploy on political opponents. All too often it is used in a rhetorical way, to lend extra weight to a political argument that the other side are doing something…

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The Brexit Prorogation: an unsustainable constitutional confrontation

Jack Simson Caird explains the strategic logic of the decision to prorogue Parliament. He writes that the government seems to be seeking confrontation with Parliament not just over Brexit, but over different visions of the constitution and democracy. So, unlike May's Government, Johnson's is willing to deploy all the means at its disposal in order to realise its visions. The government's decision to prorogue Parliament between 9-12 September to 14 October is based on overlapping strategic…

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Prime Minister announces new Modern Slavery Centre to be led by the Bingham Centre

Today the Prime Minister announced an ambitious new Policy and Evidence Centre on Modern Slavery to be led by the Bingham Centre The Prime Minister has today announced the investment of £10million of public funding from UK Research and Innovation's Strategic Priorities Fund to create an ambitious new Policy and Evidence Centre on Modern Slavery and Human Rights. The Centre's job will be to bring about a step change in our understanding of modern slavery and to transform the effectiveness…

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Parliament must act quickly to exert influence if it wishes to prevent a ‘no deal’ Brexit

In four months' time, the extension to the Article 50 period agreed in April will expire. The UK will have a new Prime Minister by then, although it remains unclear what position they will take if the Commons continues to refuse to approve the Withdrawal Agreement. Jack Simson Caird analyses the legal and political mechanisms available should parliament seek to prevent the next Prime Minister taking the UK out of the EU without a deal. Boris Johnson has said that if he is the next Prime Minister…

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APPG on the Rule of Law: Can Parliament stop a no deal Brexit?

APPG on the rule of Law: Can parliament stop a no deal Brexit? A recent Institute for Government comment arguing that Parliament would not be able to stop a Prime Minister determined to deliver no deal has provoked significant debate. This roundtable is being convened to debate the argument advanced in the comment piece and to consider the possible steps that Parliament could take to prevent a no deal exit. Chair Dominic Grieve QC MP, Chair of the APPG on the Rule of Law…

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APPG on the Rule of Law: Parliament, Brexit and the Rule of Law

'Brexit, Parliament and The Rule of Law: extending Article 50 and implementing the Withdrawal Agreement' 'Brexit, Parliament and The Rule of Law: extending Article 50 and implementing the Withdrawal Agreement' This meeting considered the events leading up to 29 March and discussed Rule of Law challenges facing Parliament. Chair Dominic Grieve QC MP, Chair of the APPG on the Rule of Law Speakers Professor Kenneth Armstrong, Professor of European Law at the University…

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The Bercow Bombshell: Political Constitutionalism in Action

This week, like the last and probably the next, the constitutional and political drama in the Brexit process reached new heights. The week began with a statement  from the Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow MP. The Speaker took many by surprise by invoking a precedent that has existed since 1604: that once the Commons has rejected a motion or Bill, the proposition in question should not be re-introduced in the same parliamentary session. The Speaker's intervention, both in terms…

PARLIAMENTS

MPs’ powers of persuasion are shaping the Brexit endgame

This week has been a momentous one for the Brexit endgame in the Commons. There is a growing sense of frustration and bewilderment at the lack of progress being made by MPs. However, it is worth taking a step back and seeing this week's events in the wider context of the relationship between the government and the Commons which has been evolving and adapting to the unique circumstances of Brexit. In a UK in a Changing Europe and Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law report published this week ,…

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The House of Commons’ Last Chance at Taking Back Control?

On Wednesday 27 February, MPs will have another opportunity to debate an amendable motion on the Government's approach to Brexit. The debate on Wednesday is likely to focus on the plan put forward by Yvette Cooper MP (Labour) and Oliver Letwin MP (Conservative). They want MPs to have a legally binding say on whether the Prime Minister seeks an extension to Article 50's two-year negotiating period. An amendment on Wednesday (if passed) would make time for legislation to achieve this. This post…

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For Rule of Law in the US, 2019 Brings New Hope

Published in The Hill  on 28 December 2018 For those concerned about the rule of law in the United States, the last two years have been a steady drip - accelerating at times to a full-blown torrent - of terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days. 2017 was tough, but 2018 was tougher. The year included the manufacture and release (against adamant objections from the intel community) of the infamous "Nunes" memo. It included the Helsinki summit between presidents Trump and Putin. It included…

PARLIAMENTS

The Commons’ verdict delayed: a decisive shift in the battle for control of the Brexit Endgame?

Theresa May's delay of the meaningful vote was a game-changing decision in the contest between the Commons and the Government for control of the Brexit process. This decision - ostensibly to address the concerns of MPs and enable further legal clarifications from the EU - might not appear that significant. In principle, the delay simply ensures MPs have all the information they need to make an informed choice. However, this underplays the strategic importance of the delay. The Government's…

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Getting Rights Right: Human Rights and the Scottish Parliament

In this Report the human rights committee of the Scottish Parliament considered how the Parliament could be a better guarantor of human rights in Scotland. The Report drew heavily on the draft UN Principles on Parliaments and Human Rights to make a number of recommendations designed to improve parliamentary scrutiny of legislation for human rights compatibility in Scotland as well as to improve public participation in discussion and debate of human rights issues in the Parliament. The…

PARLIAMENTS

The House of Commons and the Brexit Endgame: what can the Commons achieve before exit day?

This was originally published in the UK in a Changing Europe blog  on 23 November 2018, republished here with kind permission. Amid all the noise around leadership challenges and a People's Vote, it is easy to forget that the role of the House of Commons in the Brexit Endgame is focused on two core tasks: Approving the Withdrawal Agreement and the Framework on the Future Relationship (the meaningful vote); and Turning the Withdrawal Agreement into domestic law through the EU (Withdrawal…

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Taking Back Control: Brexit, Parliament and the Rule of Law

Over the next six months of the Brexit process, the UK Parliament will make a number of decisions that will have a profound impact on the UK's constitution and its legal systems. In a Bingham Centre for the Rule Law Report published this week, The Withdrawal Agreement and the Political Declaration: A Preliminary Rule of Law Analysis , we argue that the next six months represents a major test for the Rule of Law in the UK. The Rule of Law does not itself provide answers to the question…

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Contribution of parliaments to the work of the Human Rights Council and its universal periodic review

The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights drew up a set of draft Principles to guide parliaments seeking to build their capacity to engage with human rights and Rule of Law issues, based on an extensive survey of best practice in parliaments around the world. In particular, the draft Principles provide detailed guidance about how to establish and operate a parliamentary human rights committee. The draft Principles draw extensively on an earlier draft prepared by the Director…

PARLIAMENTS

Global developments in the role of parliaments in the protection and promotion of human rights and the rule of law: An emerging consensus – 2018 update

This Report updates the earlier global survey, reviewing developments since the earlier survey was concluded. The Update found that the emerging consensus identified in the earlier Report had continued to develop and was now even more firmly established at regional and international level. The move towards increased parliamentary engagement was gathering momentum both at regional level and in international organisations such as the UN. Noting the endorsement of the UN Secretary-General…

PARLIAMENTS

The Rule of Law in Parliament: A Review of the 2015-2016 Session

This study built on the Bingham Centre's first Rule of Law in Parliament report by examining the use of the Rule of Law as point of reference in Parliament in the next year's session (2015-2016). The findings demonstrate continuity of certain trends, but also some significant new developments. Compared with the previous period, the House of Commons overtook the House of Lords in supplying a clear majority of the 653 distinct references to the Rule of Law that were located and analysed.…

PARLIAMENTS

Global developments in the role of parliaments in the protection and promotion of human rights and the rule of law: An Emerging Consensus

This Report presents the findings of a worldwide survey of the most significant global developments in the role of parliaments in the protection and promotion of human rights and the Rule of Law. Drawing together developments at the international and regional level, the Report demonstrates that there is a growing international consensus about the importance of the role of parliaments in this respect, and growing activity towards achieving this. It found a distinct global trend of a…

PARLIAMENTS

The Rule of Law in Parliament: A Review of Sessions 2013-2014 and 2014-2015

The Rule of Law has practical implications for almost every aspect of government and parliamentary decision-making and so parliamentarians consider Rule of Law issues frequently. Every decision to grant a discretion to a Minister or bureaucrat in an Act of Parliament engages the Rule of Law, questions of access to the legal system such as fees, legal aid and legal process are Rule of Law issues, and holding the government to account can be an example of applying the Rule of Law. Most…

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