The Wilberforce Society | Legal and Constitutional Policy
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Legal and Constitutional Policy

Lead Writers: Zoe Adams, Francois Vanherck

Writers: Shani Wijetilaka, Maximilian Campbell, Joshua Richman, Jack LeGresley

Editor: Umang Khandelwal

The House of Lords is suffering from an identity crisis. This is as much due to short sighted reform efforts as it is to issues of legitimacy. Reform needs to be seen as a priority, conceived as part of a normative vision of the role that the House of Lords could, and should play in the context of the modern British constitution. It is time to recognise that the House of Lords can make a meaningful contribution to our democracy, and defend it against the widespread criticism to which it is subject today.

This paper has sought to highlight the importance of the scrutinizing function the House of Lords performs. It has sought to demonstrate that the question of expertise cannot be separated from the nature of its composition. Before other issues can even begin to be addressed, the House needs to demonstrate it represents a diverse cross-section of society. By focusing on the central issue of composition, the proposed reforms should help to convince the public of the important contribution that the House of Lords can make to the quality of our democracy today.


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Written by Ewan Lusty

Formatted by Brendan Tan

Corruption is increasingly on the UK policy-making agenda. In December 2014 the Government published a comprehensive Anti-Corruption Plan, consisting of 66 points for further action in addressing corruption, acting on repeated warnings from journalists, academics, and NGOs about the threat corruption poses in the UK and the need for an active policy response. Although this plan is wide-ranging in its scope and ambition, further thought and discussion is necessary to determine the exact shape of this action.

This paper proposes an online service that will act as both an easily accessible reporting mechanism and an information hub. It will allow citizens both to report corruption and to understand the principal corruption risks in more detail. It will specifically target corruption in local government, one of nine risk areas identified by the Anti-Corruption Plan. Because Scotland and Northern Ireland have separate institutional arrangements for tackling corruption, this proposal will confine itself to England and Wales. It draws on a wide range of existing innovations around the world, including from low- and middle-income countries. In particular, India and Ukraine offer valuable examples of how to incorporate citizens’ use of technology into an anti-corruption strategy.


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The prison population currently stands at around 84,000. This constitutes a 100% increase on the 1993 prison population. During this time the rate of reoffending has remained stubbornly high, with about 50% of offenders  reoffending within a year of release from prison. The reoffending rate has remained consistent despite  a range of initiatives and policies aimed at tackling this problem.

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This paper examines the English legal profession as it stands, as well as assessing the major proposals for reform. The paper also analyses recent changes to the legal profession and their potential impact, including the LSA 2007 and the role of ABS models.

The paper’s proposals include that the legal education system in England and Wales should have a common starting point for both barristers and solicitors, similar to the Hong Kong model; that a merger of the professional regulatory bodies would be unworkable in the short term; and that while the two professions of barrister and solicitor should not be merged forcibly, a gradual movement towards solicitor-advocacy should be encouraged.

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TWS was invited to submit its views to the government’s independent Commission on a Bill of Rights’ public consultation. In response, a seven person committee was formed under John Kwan, TWS’s Head of Legal Policy, and worked to produce a substantial 50 page report. The paper proposes that a new Bill of Rights should recognize and legislate for new rights — to Internet access, to education and healthcare, and for victims of crime.

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A presentation of the case for the adoption of a UK written constitution, after society-wide consultation, to entrench fundamental human rights and to clarify constitutional arrangement regarding the roles of different branches of government and parliament, and to vest the power to interpret the constitution in the judiciary.

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