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Parliament’s Political and Constitutional Reform Select Committee is undertaking a 6-month consultation on whether or not we need a Written Constitution – a ‘new Magna Carta’ – for the UK. Have your say on the future of our democracy.

Our constitution belongs to the people of the United Kingdom not political insiders. It is about how the state exercises power and how it interacts with the people. It is about our democracy. So as the nation celebrates the 800th anniversary of the first Magna Carta we need to look forward as well as back: do we need a new Magna Carta for the next 800 years?

Chaired by Graham Allen MP, the Committee’s Report “A new Magna Carta?” was launched on 10th July at the British Library, in close proximity to the original Magna Carta.

The report asks whether or not we need a Written Constitution for the UK and outlines a number of options including a fully-fledged Written Constitution. The full text is available on www.parliament.uk/pcrc-constitution along with an easy to use pamphlet.

Each of the options in the report is open to debate and amendment. The Committee wants to hear from as many individuals and organisations as possible: schools, universities and sixth forms, politicians from central and local government, academics, think tanks, charities, campaigning groups, and members of the public.

The draft Written Constitution has several parts which could be considered together or used to promote  a series of discussions including the role and powers of the Prime Minister, the Commons, the Second Chamber, the Judiciary, Local Government, and Devolution.

To start the debate, the Committee asks:

  • Does the UK need a Written Constitution?
  • Which, if any, of the options set out do you support?
  • What should a written constitution for the UK contain?

The Committee is also asking for suggestions from the public for a Preamble for a modern Written Constitution for the UK.

Committee Chair Graham Allen MP said “The Preamble of a nation’s constitution should be rousing, ringing, inspiring and short. For budding Thomas Jeffersons who need a start here below is my own effort. If you think you can do better in 350 words then send in your entry (as a word document) to [email protected] with the subject line PREAMBLE. They will go on our web site and I will award a prize to the best public entry and the best by a journalist”.

Preamble to a New Magna Carta, A Written Constitution for the UK

Whereas, it is a great and manifold blessing to a nation to possess a constitution respected and revered by its citizens, and

Whereas, this United Kingdom has no single written constitution but rather a constitutional settlement scattered and diffused among many statutes and other instruments and in parts not even written at all but having expression only through custom and convention, and

Whereas, our citizens have no ready and convenient means to view and examine this settlement and bring it to memory,

Now, we the people of the United Kingdom have created this Constitution as an expression of our nation, our democracy and as the framework of our government whose just powers derive only from our consent.

We, through the agency of our representatives in Parliament assembled, have devised and agreed this constitution to unite in one place for all to see the principles and rules by which our realm is and ought to be governed, so that our constitution may be better known, upheld and protected by all its citizens.

Through this constitution our nation:

Affirms that all its people are created equal and entitled to justice, liberty and opportunity under law in our United Kingdom,

Embeds and entrenches the rule of law throughout its territory,

Defines the institutions of government and the inherent rights of all its citizens, and secures them from the tyranny or caprice of those in power over them,

Provides for its citizens to make decisions in government at the appropriate level which is closest to them,

Enables the means by which the exercise of any power or authority within the nation can be judged lawful and legitimate or otherwise and can be made accountable to all its citizens;

Creates throughout its territory the conditions which ensure domestic tranquillity, promote the general welfare, advance culture, learning and the use and expression of every individual talent, and allow the establishment and expansion of lawful commerce of every kind, and

Makes the rights and blessings attendant on our citizenship better known and understood that they may be more vigorously defended and promoted both by ourselves now and forever.

 

The consultation and a series of events will continue until 1st January 2015 – have your say by sending your comments to the Committee by e-mail using [email protected] or by post to the Political and Constitutional Reform Select Committee, House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA.

 

 

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