Abstract

The constitution received official recognition in 2003 with the creation of the Department of Constitutional Affairs, but the year was spent mopping up unfinished business from the reform programme started in 1997. This article covers developments in freedom of information, the regulation of the civil service, House of Lords reform, devolution in Scotland and Wales, preparations for devolution to the English regions, and electoral systems and fixed-term elections. A number of themes have become apparent. There is an increasing role for the various constitutional watchdogs outside Parliament, adding to the general shift away from parliamentary sovereignty. The constitution is becoming more visible, with more being written down. Most importantly, the government tends to see constitutional reform as part of pragmatic politics with no clear vision of the final product. Without an all-embracing theory, constitutional change continues to be piecemeal, and both the need and calls for further reform will continue to rumble on.

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