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Peter Riddell & Richard Thomas

Robert Hazell founded the Constitution Unit in 1995 to do detailed research and planning on constitutional reform in the UK. The Unit has done work on every aspect of the UK’s constitutional reform programme: devolution in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the English regions, reform of the House of Lords, electoral reform, parliamentary reform, the new Supreme Court, the conduct of referendums, freedom of information, the Human Rights Act. The Unit is the only body in the UK to cover the whole of the constitutional reform agenda.

The Unit conducts academic research on current or future policy issues, often in collaboration with other universities and partners from overseas. We organise regular programmes of seminars and conferences. We do consultancy work for government and other public bodies. We act as special advisers to government departments and parliamentary committees. We work closely with government, parliament and the judiciary. All our work has a sharply practical focus, is concise and clearly written, timely and relevant to policy makers and practitioners.

The Unit has always been multi disciplinary, with academic researchers drawn mainly from politics and law. We also have people with public service backgrounds, and welcome secondments from the public service. The Unit has 25 honorary Senior Research Fellows, who have worked on research projects with us; and a Council of 40 members who are distinguished figures with an interest in constitutional reform.

These seminars are funded by her family in memory of Barbara Farbey, late of UCL, who greatly enjoyed them and who died in 2009.

What is the series?

Our seminars cover all areas of the constitution and open debate on a range of issues. We try to keep the programme topical and interesting and generate well informed and lively discussion between the speaker and our audience. We have broad discussions with high profile speakers as well as exploring more technical issues. We aim to keep the seminars accessible to all and film them for debate beyond the room.

Who are the seminars for?

The seminars are completely free and open to all. The presentations are filmed, however the Q&A is strictly under Chatham House Rule in order to facilitate an open and frank discussion. Our audience is wide-ranging, from official, academics and practitioners to students and interested members of the public. We aim to give you the opportunity to debate with those in the know.

When and where do the seminars take place?

The seminars are generally held at the Constitution Unit and can either be a lunchtime or evening event. Presentations are usually 30-40 minutes with another 20 for Q&A. Refreshments are always available before or after the event where participants can continue discussions informally. 

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