What is happening?
We are living in constitutionally eventful times but constitutional reform is not being approached in a unified way under a single Bill, review, or commission. Instead, policies which have constitutional implications are being pursued at different times by different departments in different ways to achieve different objectives. Moreover, much of the change produced may not even be intentional. It is the unexpected consequence of a series of measures taken together.
This makes it difficult to keep track of what is going on, in which department, why it is important, how it interrelates with other changes, and what its broader or longer-term implications might be. Public Law Project’s UK constitutional reform tracker tries to tackle this problem.
How does the tracker help?
The tracker does two important things. The first is to provide a chronological list of constitutionally important events under the current administration. Given that the current constitutional reform trend is not exclusively or even largely legislative in some areas, these important events include not only primary legislation but also secondary or delegated legislation issued by Ministers, policy papers, parliamentary motions, ministerial statements, government speeches and announcements, public appointments, administrative practices, and key cases from the courts associated with these things. The purpose is to highlight events that may otherwise be obscure or missed.
The second important feature of Public Law Project’s tracker is to make every one of these entries searchable by various tags. This will help users understand not only what is going on in terms of individual changes but also the interrelationships between events, so that trends and patterns over time can be seen. Users can search, for example, for all policies that have implications for judicial review, or freedom of expression, or national security, or which relate to the ministerial code. Users can also search for activities related to particular central government departments or institutions and several other categories and themes, available here.
Scope and nature of the tracker
Importantly, the tracker is designed to be politically neutral and impartial. We make no assessment of whether the events it contains are good or bad. Instead, the tracker is designed to be a shared resource for those interested in constitutional issues without addressing political debates as to the merits of each proposal or event. Those are assessments we prefer to leave to the users of the tracker.
The tracker focuses on events of constitutional relevance and significance pursued by the central government and the immediate consequences of those reforms, such as court cases, comments by the Speaker of the House of Commons, and parliamentary reports. It does not, at this stage, focus on independent constitutional reforms pursued by the devolved governments or other bodies.