Recent constitutional changes

The Labour government first elected in 1997 had promised in its manifesto to make constitutional changes. It delivered some of its promises, but its ritics argued that it did not go far enough. The changes made include:

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Recent Changes

  • It reformed the House of Lords. The right of the hereditary peers (all but 92) to vote and sit was abloshed.
  • It devolved power to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Scotland its own parliament, and Wales and Northern Ireland have their own assemblies.
  • It altered the electoral system in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Proportional representation was introduced.
  • It held binding referendums in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. 
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Recent Changes (continued)

  • It brought in the Human Rights Act, which guarantees liberties to citizens


  •  It set up the new post of Mayor of London, with devolved powers.


  • It changed the relationship between the executve and the judiciary in the Constituional Reform Act of 2005.


  • It passed the Freedom of Information Act. 
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Recent Changes (continued x2)

  • It passed the political parties, Elections and Referendums Act, which reformed all three areas.


  • It ratified the Amsterdam, Nice and Lisbon treaties, which further affected the UK's general relationship with the UK's relationship with the EU.
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Criticism of the changes

  • The Labour government did not reform the House of Commons in a meaningful way. It had been suggested that the government would give select committees much more power to scrutinise the executive and also make Parliament work more sensible hours. These changes did not happen. In fact, the government increased its hold and influence over Parliament, and it has even been argued that it ignored Parliament because the government had such a large majority in the commons.


  • It did not change the voting system for general elections in the UK. Tony Blair failed to get a majority of the electorate to vote for him in 2001, yet he still had a large majority in the commons.
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Criticism (continued)

  • It did not fully tackle the problem of the House of Lords. It did not reform the role of the Lords. Peers remained unelected, and many of those appointed seemed strong supporters of the Labour government.
  • It did not really sort out the relationship between the government in London and those in Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast.
  • There is still no written constitution in the UK.
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