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B+M Chair takes part in constitutional debate

Elaine Motion has taken part in a debate about constitutional law – and the often fractious relationship between the machinery of government and policy-makers – at a high-profile conference.

Balfour+Manson’s Chairman took part in a panel discussion at the annual Human Rights Conference, organised by JUSTICE, which aims to advance access to justice, human rights and the rule of law.

The discussion focused on five aspects of constitutional law, including devolution, whether the UK should have a written constitution, and House of Lords reform.

The panel, also including Lord Pannick KC, one of the UK’s leading experts on public law and human rights, also discussed public criticism of lawyers by politicians and the balance of power between the legislature and the executive.

Mrs Motion said: “There was a lot of discussion about executive and legislative power and the clear sense was that the balance had been tipped very much towards the executive. There was also discussion about the need for education of the public generally about our political system which included a call to support independent journalism.”

She added: “It was felt that introducing a written constitution may not resolve the issues that are being experienced and would be full of challenges – but that more internal rules were needed to give parliament the teeth to deal with those challenges arising from greater executive power.”
Rob Behrens, the UK’s Parliamentary Ombudsman, also took part in the discussion, as well as Dominic Casciani, the BBC’s Home and Legal Correspondent. The session was chaired by JUSTICE Chief Executive Fiona Robertson.

Mrs Motion, who is a Trustee of the Institute for Constitutional and Democratic Research, added: “I was very honoured to be able to take part in such an important debate, at a time when our constitution is such a live topic of discussion.”