Constitutional guardianship: The roles of public or state sector bodies
A public lecture by 2016 Borrin Fellow Professor Dawn Oliver
We are all used to the idea that the courts and Parliament have roles in relation to the constitutional arrangements of New Zealand and the United Kingdom. The courts, in their judicial review jurisdictions, uphold the rule of law in its various aspects. The UK Parliament, especially the Upper Chamber, has developed an important role in the scrutiny of bills and of government policies against constitutional standards developed by its committees. I assume that the New Zealand Parliament also discharges such scrutiny roles. Thus, in both countries, courts and legislatures act as ‘constitutional guardians’. But what about other public bodies, including public service departments and arm’s length bodies? In this lecture, I shall discuss the formal and informal norms which govern these institutions. I shall suggest that they too have constitutional guardianship roles. Is this what ‘stewardship’ is about?
Dawn Oliver is Emeritus Professor of Constitutional Law at University College London. Her main interests are in the relationships between law and politics, especially in relation to constitutional reform in the UK.
Dawn’s publications include Constitutional Reform in the United Kingdom (2003) and Constitutional Guardians: The House of Lords (2015); she has edited eight editions of The Changing Constitution (with Jeffrey Jowell and now Colm O’Cinneide), to which she has contributed chapters on intra-party democracy, citizenship, Parliament and the regulation of politics. Other collections she has edited, and to which she has contributed, include Human Rights and the Private Sphere (2007), Lessons from the Pitcairn Prosecutions (2009), Constitutional Implications of the Regulatory State (2010), How Constitutions Change (2011) and Parliament and the Law (2013). She is a fellow of the British Academy and an Honorary Queens Counsel.