Constitutional reform post-1997

Constitutional reform post-1997

Devolution of Power

  • The Labour Government’s pledge in 1997 to devolve power led to the establishment of devolved legislative bodies in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.
  • The Scotland Act 1998 established the Scottish Parliament with powers to legislate on a range of issues, also known as devolved matters such as health, education, transport, environment and justice.
  • The Government of Wales Act 1998 established the National Assembly for Wales, allowing the Welsh people to have a greater say in decisions that affect their daily lives.
  • The Northern Ireland Act 1998 was passed as part of the Good Friday Agreement and established the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Human Rights Act

  • The Human Rights Act 1998 made the rights outlined in the European Convention on Human Rights part of UK law. It has had a significant impact in protecting individual rights.

Reform of the House of Lords

  • The House of Lords Act 1999 was a significant constitutional reform that removed all but 92 hereditary peers, reducing the size of the House from around 1,300 members to 669.
  • The act represented an attempt to make the House of Lords more democratic and limit the influence of aristocracy on law-making.

Local Government

  • The Local Government Act 2000 introduced a range of new measures designed to modernise local government structure and promote local democracy.

Greater Transparency and Openness

  • The Freedom of Information Act 2000 enhanced transparency in the UK Government. The act grants public access to information held by public authorities.
  • The act is designed to make governmental organisations more transparent, accountable, and responsive.

Constitutional Continuity

  • The introduction of the Constitutional Reform Act 2005 significantly altered the relationship between Parliament and the judiciary. It established the UK’s Supreme Court and further separated judicial and legislative powers.

Remember: Despite these reforms, the UK constitutional framework is still uncodified and flexible. The key principles of parliamentary sovereignty and the rule of law remain central to the UK’s system of government.