Annual Harry Street lecture

The University of Manchester: Wednesday 21st April at 4pm

UK Constitutional Reform – Westminster or Whitehall?

We’re often told that there is no real understanding of the separation of powers in the UK constitution. Its efficient secret is the fusion of the executive and the legislature, combined with the independence of the judiciary. Yet, this misunderstands the extent to which the UK constitution rests on a delicate balance of powers between Parliament, the Government and the courts. As the UK constitution evolves, the balance between Parliament and the Government – between Westminster and Whitehall – fluctuates.

The Conservative Party’s 2019 general election manifesto promised to establish a Commission on the Constitution, Democracy and Rights, as well as repealing the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011. Both the Independent Review of Administrative Law and the Independent Human Rights Act Review have asked whether the UK constitution currently gives too much power to the courts. This lecture will argue that, in doing so, these reviews fail to tackle a deeper problem. The lecture will ask whether the real problem is a tipping of the balance of power away from Westminster towards Whitehall and asks whether this is a move in the right direction.

Alison Young is the Sir David Williams Professor of Public Law at the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of Robinson College. She researches in all aspects of public law and constitutional theory, focusing recently in particular on the implications of Brexit on the UK constitution. She has published two monographs, Parliamentary Sovereignty and the Human Rights Act and Democratic Dialogue and the Constitution and has just finished updating the most recent edition of Turpin and Tomkins: British Government and the Constitution. She also co-edits the UKCLA blog, is a trustee of the Constitution Society and the Director of the Cambridge Centre for Public Law.

If you are interested in attending this event, please email Ms Maureen Barlow ( who will provide you with further details.

You can watch the lecture here.

Online Exhibition

Questions of Accountability: Prerogatives, Power and Politics 
1-5 November 2021, University of Worcester and University of Sheffield

Accountability is a chameleon concept. Demanded by democracy but often secured alongside something of a ‘gotcha!’ mentality, events such as the Covid-19 crisis, the Brexit debate, the emergence of populist pressures, ongoing security concerns and debates about the use of prerogative powers all point to the need to ask new questions of accountability. It is for exactly this reason that this exhibition focuses on contemporary debates concerning the accountability of governmental power from an inter-disciplinary and international perspective. Papers that explore the changing nature and inter-relationship(s) between different forms of accountability are welcomed (political, legal, judicial, managerial, media, public, etc.), as are normative studies that seek to question the underpinning drivers or expectations that underpin the notion of accountability.

Keynote speakers include Baroness Hale (former President of UK Supreme Court), Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury (former President of the UK Supreme Court), Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, Lord David Blunkett (former Home Secretary), Prof Bruce Ackerman (Yale), Prof Margit Cohn (Hebrew University of Jerusalem), Prof John Keane (Sydney), Dr Hannah White (Institute for Government), Prof Conor Gearty QC (LSE), Prof Vernon Bogdanor (King’s College London), Baroness Manningham-Buller (former head of MI5 and current chair of Wellcome). 

Call for Papers

We are looking for contributions from across the globe and if you are researching or working within the themes of the exhibition, we are very keen to hear from you. We would like to showcase the research of early career researchers, PhD students, and more established researchers. Practitioners and research-users are also encouraged to submit papers. These need not be full research papers but might seek to highly novel challenges or the identification of potential solutions.

The call for paper opens on 1 April 2021 and will close on 11 August 2021.

Paper will need to be submitted to the organisers at

For more information about the exhibition, please visit the website.