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Constitutional Reform in the UK: A Conference on the Brown Commission Report (Part Two)

Date: 1st March 2024

Time: 09.30 - 17.00 (Registration from 09.00)

Venue: BIICL, Charles Clore House, 17 Russell Sq London WC1B 5JP


Conference Details

At the end of 2022, the Brown Commission published its final report, 'A New Britain: Renewing our Democracy and Rebuilding our Economy: Report of the Commission on the UK's Future'.

Part One of the Conference took place at the Bonavero Institute of Human Rights, University of Oxford on 5 May 2023. Three panels considered (i) the process of constitutional change; (ii) second chamber and electoral system reform; and (iii) ethics, integrity and fourth branch (guarantor) institutions.

More about Part I  |  Watch a Recording of Part I 

In this, Part Two of the Conference, panellists will consider (i) devolution; (ii) decentralisation and localism; and (iii) social rights.

Part Two of the Conference is hosted by the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law in partnership with the Bonavero Institute of Human Rights, University of Oxford, LSE Law School, UCL Faculty of Laws, and the British & Irish Chapter of the International Society of Public Law. 

The conference is convened by Prof Jeff King, Lucy Moxham, Prof Kate O'Regan, Prof Tarun Khaitan and Prof Jo Murkens.

View recordings of the conference

Conference recordings

Download the slides

Professor Alisa Henderson

Read the report of the conference

Event report


Prof Jim Gallagher CB FRSE, Visiting Professor, University of Glasgow School of Law

Panel One: "Devolution, the Constitution and the Union"

This panel will explore the impact of the Brown Commission's proposals for "stronger self-government and fuller shared government" on both the devolved nations and the UK's Constitution. The Brown Commission report sets out the need for cooperation across the UK even on devolved matters and the importance of the UK's shared institutions. It also makes a number of proposals to strengthen and protect devolution in Scotland and Wales, and to enhance powers of the devolved institutions in those nations. The stated priority as regards Northern Ireland is to restore and strengthen devolved government in Belfast. Panellists are invited to consider the report's proposals and, in particular, mechanisms for inter-governmental relations, both bilateral and multilateral. The report also recommends that consideration be given to establishing new forms of local and regional leadership, particularly in Scotland, and panellists are encouraged to discuss the relationship between devolution and decentralisation.

Chair: Prof Jo Murkens, Professor of Law, LSE Law School

  • Akash Paun, Programme Director, Institute for Government
  • Prof Katy Hayward, Professor of Political Sociology in the School of Social Sciences, Education and Social Work, Queen's University Belfast
  • Philip Rycroft, Philip Rycroft Consulting Ltd, Honorary Professor at Edinburgh University and Senior Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Bennett Institute for Public Policy, University of Cambridge
  • Prof Ailsa Henderson, University of Edinburgh.

Panel Two: "Decentralisation and Localism in the UK"

The Brown Commission report sets out plans to "spread power and authority across the country and to the towns, cities and regions of England". The report discusses various components of devolution in England and emphasises the need for partnerships between local, regional and national participants. It also notes the need to put in place arrangements for scrutiny and accountability to accompany increased powers. Panellists are invited to consider the report's proposals, and how they relate to devolution in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and to politics in Westminster. In this regard, panellists are encouraged to discuss the proposal for a new mechanism called "Special Local Legislation" to initiate local legislation in Parliament, as well as plans for "double devolution" to increase community involvement in local decision-making and services.

Chair: Bren Albiston, Society of Labour Lawyers and Associate at Stephenson Harwood

  • Dr John Stanton, Senior Lecturer, City, University of London
  • Nyasha Weinberg, 39 Essex Chambers and Kings College London
  • Prof Patrick Diamond, Queen Mary, University of London

Panel Three: "Institutional Modes of Protection and Fulfilment of Social Rights"

The Brown Commission report recommends that there should be "new, constitutionally protected social rights" that "reflect the current shared understanding of the minimum standards and public services that a British citizen should be guaranteed". In particular, the report proposes four new social rights in the areas of health, schooling, poverty and housing. This panel will consider the legal form and justiciability of these social rights, as well as other forms of institutional engagement with such rights. Panellists are encouraged to consider how these social rights might be protected within the British Constitution, including as regards the devolved nations, and the institutional mechanisms for delivering and implementing such rights.

Chair: Prof Tarun Khaitan, Professor (Chair) of Public Law, LSE Law School

  • Prof Kate O'Regan, Professor of Human Rights Law and Director of the Bonavero Institute of Human Rights, University of Oxford
  • Prof Jeff King, Professor of Law, UCL and Research Director, Bingham Centre
  • Stephen Hockman KC, Society of Labour Lawyers and Six Pump Court
  • Colin Caughey, Director of Public Policy, Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission

CPD Information

This event offers the equivalent of 6 CPD hours.


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Event Recording

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