How far have the reforms of the Blair Governments addressed the weaknesses in the UK constitution

How far have the reforms of the Blair Governments addressed the weaknesses in the UK constitution

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How far have the reforms of the Blair Governments addressed the weaknesses in the   UK constitution? In his 1976 Dimbleby lecture, Lord Hailsham launched a series of scathing attacks on the  British constitution, claiming that “our constitution is wearing out”. The New Labour Party  ahead   of   the   1997   election   went   even   further,   declaring   “our   system   of   government   is  centralised, inefficient and bureaucratic” and at the same time committed itself to a number of  major constitutional reforms that it claimed would improve the quality of British democracy,  decentralise power and produce a more open form of government. Among these promised  reforms were bills introducing freedom of information, a human rights act, elected mayors for  London and other cities, devolved power in Scotland and Wales, the abolition of the hereditary  principle in the House of Lords and more independence for local government.   The   government   began   its   reforms   within   weeks   of   being   elected,   granting   operational  independence over monetary policy to the Bank of England in May 1997. Less than two years  the statute book, the government can justifiably claim that it has embarked on the most  ambitious and far reaching changes in the British constitution this century”.  So how successful have the numerous reforms been in solving our constitutional problems? To  look firstly at the issue of rights, the government successfully passed the Human Rights Act  (HRA) in 1998, finally incorporating the majority of the European Convention on Human Rights  (ECHR) into UK law. At a stroke this solved one constitutional imbalance since prior to the Act,  the UK had worked largely on the principle of negative liberty, whereby, to quote Hobbes,  “freedom exists in the silence of the laws”. The ECHR “could not give rise directly to rights  enforceable in the UK courts, and complainants had first to exhaust remedies in the British  courts before they could exercise the individual right of petition to Strasbourg” 1 . This Labour  government’s policy was in stark contrast to those of their predecessors on this issue. Since the  Convention’s adoption in 1950, successive UK governments have argued that any incorporation  into UK law would have a negative effect on the UK justice system, arguing that judges would  be drawn into politics, into conflict with Parliament and would acquire too much power. Lord  Bingham, referring to the fact that the UK has no separation of powers, declared that the 
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This note was uploaded on 04/29/2008 for the course PPE PPE taught by Professor None during the Summer '08 term at Oxford University.

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How far have the reforms of the Blair Governments addressed the weaknesses in the UK constitution

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