In response to the CPF discussion paper on the Union and Constitution, we received submissions from 90 CPF groups, representing at least 1,048 members from 159 constituencies plus two regional groups and three Conservatives Abroad groups. Of those who participated this time, about one-in-seven (14.9%) had not previously participated in CPF discussions.
About one-in-ten (9.8%) of the constituencies are swing seats (those that we won or lost in the 2019 general election), two-in-five (40.5%) opposition-held seats and half (49.7%) Conservative-held seats. About one-in-four (24%) are in the South East, one-in-four (23%) in the North or Yorkshire & Humber, one-in-six (17%) in the devolved nations, one-in-six (16%) in the Midlands, one-in-ten (10%) in the South West, one-in-eight (12%) in London and one-in-eleven (9%) in the East.
Thank you to everybody who participated in the consultation: your suggestions continue to be well-received and will help the Party to deliver on its manifesto commitments.
What follows is a brief overview of the key points raised by CPF groups and a few representative quotations. A more detailed summary has been sent to the PM’s Policy Unit, the Chancellor of Duchy of Lancaster, Minister for the Constitution and Devolution, and the Party leadership. We look forward to publishing a formal response to members’ ideas in due course.
Dr John Hayward
Conservative Policy Forum Manager
“Being in the Union is part of our identity and something which is part of one’s identity does not need to have measurable benefits.” “This is not all about Scotland, and it would be a mistake to set our political discussion to an agenda set by the SNP.” “We have too many tiers of governance and a cumbersome system that allows too many people to avoid responsibility.” “When you look at the problems in the UK there is a common theme: the involvement of the state.” “People do not want more local democracy—they want accountability and well delivered services” “It seems unfair that while Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have devolved powers, regions of England with populations that are larger, have none.” “Judicial Review and the Supreme Court are essential in order to maintain checks and balances over legal decisions.” “Human Rights have been used to raise the rights of some individuals while undermining those of others. This goes against our common law and perception of fairness.” “Any reform of the House of Lords must start by defining what its purpose is.” “Being a member of the House of Lords should not be so much an honour for services rendered, as a duty to play a vital part in the management of the country.” “They need the right background experience to read and evaluate weighty documents.”
Benefits of the Union most commonly identified were: shared defence and security, a shared internal market, a shared currency and banking system, greater shared international influence, a shared history and heritage, shared opportunities for trade, shared risk and prosperity.
An overwhelming majority of groups believe that (i) metro mayors add a costly layer of bureaucracy for less accountability and (ii) PCCs have weakened Police powers to act.
A majority (56%) expressed concerns over the Supreme Court making political decisions and moving away from common law, effectively making it a proscriptive Constitutional Court.
Two-in-three groups (68%) said the number of peers should be significantly reduced.
Half (48%) said that peers should be appointed, not elected.
In contrast, one-in-nine (11%) expressed support for at least a portion to be elected.
Half (48%) called for term limits on how long individuals may serve in the Lords.
One-in-three (34%) said that the upper house should be more representative.
Other specific suggestions include:
We need a strategic review of devolved and/or federal government models operated successfully across the Western world: there has to be a better model for the UK.
A Royal Commission into the Constitution is needed in order to equalise the devolved powers across all four countries.
Incorporate national representatives into the Cabinet: Scottish, Welsh and Irish First Ministers or their deputies must have a permanent place at the top table in Westminster.
Develop a positive emotive narrative and vision for the Union.
The Human Rights Act needs to be tempered by the introduction of a Bill of Rights.