Written Constitution

Oral Answers to Questions — Prime Minister – in the House of Commons at 11:30 am on 25th May 2005.

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Photo of Graham Allen Graham Allen Labour, Nottingham North 11:30 am, 25th May 2005

One the Prime Minister might know: will he bring forward proposals for a written constitution incorporating the rights and responsibilities of individuals and political institutions?

Photo of Tony Blair Tony Blair Prime Minister

No. The UK has been well served by its existing uncodified constitution, which has evolved to meet changing circumstances.

Photo of Graham Allen Graham Allen Labour, Nottingham North

Over recent decades, under all parties, government has got stronger and more centralised. Our other political institutions—local government, political parties and, above all, the House of Commons—have become weaker and more dependent. Does the Prime Minister recognise that growing and unhealthy imbalance, and does he accept that an agreed, written partnership between Parliament and the British people might be one way forward, leading not only to a rejuvenation of our democracy, but to better government?

Photo of Tony Blair Tony Blair Prime Minister

First of all, I pay tribute to my hon. Friend, who has campaigned on this issue for a very long time and written extensively on it. His point about the need to ensure that Parliament holds the Executive to account is absolutely right. I do not, however, think that the answer is to be found in a written constitution. I have to tell him that frankly. The answer, if there is an easy answer, is to be found in the way in which Parliament is reported and, in particular, in ensuring that when people are speaking in Parliament—not simply at Prime Minister's questions but in the many debates that take place in a somewhat less crowded House—sufficient attention is paid. When people think that sufficient attention is being paid in those circumstances, they will find that there is a slightly different balance between the Executive and Parliament.