Press Release: Cameron delivers Brown’s project on rules of succession, but not all plain sailing

Press Notice
Friday 28 October: for immediate release

Cameron delivers Brown’s project on rules of succession, but not all plain sailing, says constitutional expert

Commenting on today’s announcement in Perth of the planned changes to the rules of succession, Director of the Constitution Unit Prof Robert Hazell said:

“It has been a longstanding aim of successive British governments to end the discrimination in the laws of succession.  Gordon Brown went to the Commonwealth conference in 2009 with the same objective as David Cameron, but failed.  Since then there has been a lot of work behind the scenes to get the other 15 realms on board.  The tide of goodwill towards the monarchy following the royal wedding in April and the Queen’s diamond jubilee next year provides the perfect window of opportunity to make the change.”

“But it is not all plain sailing” Prof Hazell continued.  “The UK cannot legislate for the other 15 countries.  In Australia the six states claim a separate relationship with the Crown, and it may require their separate consent.  In Canada the federal government will certainly have to gain the consent of the provinces, including Quebec.  In both countries it will revive the republican issue.”

“Questions will also be asked about why the discrimination against Catholics is only to be partially removed.  The prohibition on the Monarch being a Catholic will remain, because the Monarch is Supreme Governor of the Church of England.  Catholics in Britain might be willing to accept that, although their numbers are now broadly equal to Anglicans.  But in the 15 realms Catholics outnumber Anglicans by three to one, and they may be less understanding”.

Notes for Editors

  • The UK is following the example of other European monarchies, most of which have changed their rules of succession already to make them gender neutral.  Sweden changed their law in 1980, Holland in 1983, Norway in 1990, Belgium in 1991, Denmark in 2009 (with a referendum), Luxembourg in 2011.  Only Spain, Monaco and Liechtenstein retain male primogeniture.
  • 11 private member’s bills have been introduced into Parliament to reform the Act of Settlement.  Successive governments have supported the principle of the change, but have said that it required government legislation.  Only the government can negotiate with the other realms.
  • Prof Hazell is available for interview 0207 679 4971, or contact our Press Officer Brian Walker on 07892 176347.

Unit in the News: Clegg appoints new Spads

Nick Clegg & Robert HazellFollowing recommendations in our report into coalition government, the Deputy Prime Minister has announced new Liberal Democrat advisors will be placed in government departments.

The report, by Prof Robert Hazell and Dr Ben Yong, suggested that the Liberal Democrats have spread themselves too thinly and require additional resources to extend their influence, including more special advisers, expanded Private Offices, and additional support for the parliamentary party.

The report is part of a one-year project into monitoring the new coalition government in the UK sponsored by the Nuffield Foundation.


Further information:

Coalition Government 2.0?

The Politics Show on BBC iplayer

In this interview Robert talks about the effect the Lib Dems are having in the coalition and whether a review is necessary to set up coalition 2.0. The Unit has a research project monitoring the coalition government, funded by the Nuffield Foundation and led by Robert Hazell and Ben Yong.

Further Information

Delivering Devolution: Robert Hazell on R4 Beyond Westminster

As voters in Scotland and Wales prepare to go to the polls, Robert Hazell and a panel of experts take stock of more than a decade of devolution and asks what it means for the UK as a whole. Highlighting policies which are strikingly different from those of the government in Westminster, in Wales she looks at higher education and the decision to shield Welsh students from large tuition fee increases; in Scotland she looks at health and patients’ benefits such as free prescriptions and free personal care. What will be the impact of the recent increase in law making power for Wales and imminent greater tax raising power for Scotland and what are likely to be the tensions between the different nations in the UK at a time when public spending is being squeezed?

Related links

Unit in the News

Some recent mentions of the Unit over the last couple of weeks:

Aiding ministerial achievement, Guardian (14 March 2011)

Calls for merger of Welsh, Irish and Scots offices, Wales Online (10 March 2011)

Goats humiliated by Wolves, Epolitix (01 March 2011)

Peers deal on AV vote

After a marathon debate, peers have reached a deal to end the deadlock over plans for a referendum on the Westminster voting system.

Meg Russell on NewsnightMeg Russell appeared on Newsnight to comment (piece starts at 17min).

Click the link below to view on the BBC iPlayer.

BBC Newsnight 31.01.11
Unit research on the House of Lords

Study ranks Canadian FOI laws dead last

Canada’s The Star has cited a Unit research paper analysing FOI regimes around the world:–study-ranks-canada-s-freedom-of-information-laws-dead-last

Further information