September 2015 – CRG launches Discussion Paper
The discussion paper was launched at each of the Conservative Party, Labour Party and Liberal Democrat autumn conferences in order to initiate debate and gain feedback on the Group’s proposals.
Introduction of English Votes for English Laws (EVEL)
Evidence to the House of Lords Constitution Committee
In January 2016 the Marquess of Salisbury, Lord Hain and Daniel Greenberg gave evidence to the House of Lords Constitution Committee on “The Union and Devolution”.
Lord Hain explained that “Devolution up until now has been a top-down process: the centre deciding to devolve powers to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and more recently in parts of England. The model we are proposing is a bottom-up process. It is turning it on its head”.
Meeting with the Prime Minister
Former Labour Party MP, Gisela Stuart, asked a question to the then Prime Minister, David Cameron, during PMQs on 20 January 2016 about a meeting with members from the Constitution Reform Group. The meeting took place not long afterwards, in the Spring of 2016, where he agreed for the Cabinet Office to work with the Group.
Introduction of the Cities and Local Government Devolution Act 2016
Introduction of the Scotland Act 2016
In July 2016 the Group agreed and formulated a new constitutional settlement in the form of the draft Act Of Union Bill
Introduction of the Wales Act 2017
Power-sharing at Stormont collapses
Increasing interest from the academic community
Since 2017 members of the CRG Steering Committee have been speaking at universities across the UK, including King’s College London, the University of St Andrews, Cardiff University and the University of Oxford.
Introduction of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018
First reading of the Act of Union Bill 2018 in the House of Lords
The Bill was formally introduced in the House of Lords by Lord Lisvane, a Crossbench peer in the House of Lords and former Clerk and Chief Executive of the House of Commons, on 9 October 2018.
Breakfast Briefing at the Institute for Government
The Constitution Reform Group Steering Committee presented the Act of Union Bill 2018 to an audience comprising of politicians, journalists, academics and civil society organisations at the Institute for Government on 11 October 2018.
Constitutional Convention debate
Lord Hain made reference to the CRG in his speech during the Constitutional Convention debate on 13 December 2018 where he acknowledged that “Without wide-ranging constitutional reform the very future of the United Kingdom is imperilled”.
Crossbench Debate – “To move that this House takes note of the possible effects of Brexit on the stability of the Union”
On 17 January 2019 Lord Lisvane’s Motion received the most votes out of a possible 20 Motions proposed by Crossbench peers to debate this key topic, highlighting how the Act of Union Bill 2018 “…would replace the central imperial condescension with a devolution settlement properly owned by its participants”.
Three MPs join the CRG Steering Committee
In February 2019 it was formally announced that Lisa Nandy MP, Seema Malhotra MP and Bim Afolami MP had joined the Group – and so bringing the increasingly urgent issue of overarching constitutional reform within the sphere of the House of Commons.
House of Lords Debate – “That this House takes note of the 20th anniversary of devolution in the United Kingdom and the role of the devolved administrations in the governance of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland“
Lord Hain made reference to the CRG in his speech during the House of Lords debate on 22 May 2019 where he acknowledged that “There is unfinished business of devolution in England outside of London. That is not sustainable and the Government needs to address it.”
Evidence to the Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee at the Welsh Assembly
In September 2019 Lord Salisbury and Sir Paul Silk gave evidence on behalf of the Constitution Reform Group to the Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee at the Welsh Assembly as part of the Committee’s inquiry into Wales’ Changing Constitution.
Lord Salisbury said “Where we are now is not a unitary state which is what we were before 1997, nor a fully federal one. Inevitably, the speed at which devolution was created has led to a lot of constitutional loose ends. As a result, the desirably of a long-term constitutional settlement has not been met and is very much unfinished business. The time has come to create a more coherent settlement. A federal solution is the only practical basis on which we can proceed”.
Three former First Ministers join the CRG Steering Committee
In October 2019 it was announced in a joint letter to The Daily Telegraph that Lord McConnell, the former First Minister of Scotland, Carwyn Jones AM, the former First Minister of Wales, and Lord Trimble, the first and former First Minister of Northern Ireland had joined the Group – combining their years in office to contribute to the ongoing development of the Act of Union Bill.
The Conservatives win with a majority in the 2019 General Election
On Friday 13 December 2019 it was announced that the Conservative Party won a majority of seats in Wales and northern England that voted Leave in the 2016 EU Referendum. The majority of Scottish seats went to the SNP, and the Alliance Party and the SDLP gained a higher percentage of votes in Northern Ireland than in previous general elections. Boris Johnson remains as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
Scottish Government publishes “Scotland’s right to choose: putting Scotland’s future in Scotland’s hands” paper
On Thursday 19 December 2019 the First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, announced the publication of a new paper which calls on the UK Government to ensure that a transfer of power is made from Westminster to Holyrood so that a fresh independence referendum is put beyond legal challenge. Significantly, the Constitution Reform Group’s new Act of Union Bill is referred to on page 5 of the paper.
UK Government examines the Constitution Reform Group’s new Act of Union Bill
On 5 January 2020 it was reported in The Sunday Times that Boris Johnson is examining plans to scrap the House of Lords and make it largely elected to give a voice to the nations and regions.
The article also announced that the proposals of the Constitution Reform Group are now “on the desk” of Johnson’s team.