Constitution Committee seeks legal adviser
8 December 2023
The Committee on the Constitution is inviting applications for the vacant post of one of its legal advisers.
The role is part-time, remunerated by a daily fee. The successful candidate will demonstrate established expertise in the fields of public law generally and constitutional law in particular. The primary task is to help the Committee fulfil its role examining the constitutional implications of public bills, but the adviser may help the Committee with other aspects of its work.
The legal adviser will work closely with the Committee’s other legal adviser, Professor Stephen Tierney, under the direction of the clerk.
Role of the adviser
Working with the other legal adviser, the successful candidate will be expected to:
- prepare a written analysis for the Committee of the constitutional implications of Government bills (and some private members’ bills), with the normal aim of the Committee considering the note before the bill’s second reading or committee stage in the Lords;
- brief the Chair and the Committee orally and in writing;
- prepare draft reports on bills;
- prepare draft letters to ministers;
- attend the Committee as appropriate to assist its deliberation; and
- undertake other work to assist the Committee with inquiries or other constitutional issues as required.
In addition to the legal advisers and the clerk, the Constitution Committee has a policy analyst and a committee operations officer.
The successful candidate will demonstrate established expertise in the fields of public law generally and constitutional law in particular. The successful candidate will demonstrate a strong understanding of how legislation is drafted, and the ability to advise on the effects of legislation clearly and concisely, setting provisions in their legal and constitutional contexts. The adviser must be incisive, articulate and able to draft quickly and clearly for both a specialist and a non-specialist audience.
The number of days a week the adviser will need to spend on the work of the Committee will vary over the parliamentary session. A peak of activity may be expected following the King’s speech opening a session. The workload is divided up flexibly between the two legal advisers. The commitment should not average more than one day a week when the House is sitting. A fast pace of working is required: a note on a bill will often need to be prepared within days of the bill being introduced.
The legal adviser would normally work away from Westminster, communicating with the clerk and other staff by email and telephone. The legal adviser would normally attend Committee meetings, either in person or remotely, at which notes on bills, or reports on them, which the adviser has drafted are being discussed.
Conditions of appointment
The appointment will attract a daily fee of £375 (based on an eight-hour day exclusive of breaks), payable monthly, either for attendance at the Committee or for time spent on the work of the Committee. A half-day or pro rata rate is payable. Travel expenses are payable within specified limits and there is provision for a modest subsistence allowance. Amounts received as fees and expenses are potentially liable to income tax (or VAT) and the House of Lords may seek formal assurance that income tax and national insurance obligations are being met. The Committee’s legal advisers are not employees of the House of Lords. Appointment is subject to the approval of the Committee, which must be renewed each parliamentary session. This appointment is therefore initially for the duration of the current session and may be renewed up to a maximum of five years.
Interested candidates should send a CV and short covering letter setting out their suitability for the post to the Clerk of the Constitution Committee at:
email@example.com by noon on 8 January 2024.
Interviews are likely to take place shortly thereafter. The adviser is likely to begin work in early 2024.
The House of Lords welcomes applications from all qualified candidates regardless of their ethnicity, race, gender, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, age, marital status or whether or not they have a disability. Requests for reasonable adjustments will be considered. Applications are particularly welcome from sections of the community which are currently under-represented among House of Lords specialist advisers, including applicants who identify as Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME).
About the Committee
The House of Lords Select Committee on the Constitution was appointed in 2001 to fulfil a recommendation of the Royal Commission on reform of the House of Lords that:
“The second chamber should establish an authoritative constitutional committee to act as a focus for its interest in and concern for constitutional matters.”
The Committee’s terms of reference are:
“To examine the constitutional implications of all public bills coming before the House; and to keep under review the operation of the constitution, and constitutional aspects of devolution.”
The Committee set out its approach to this task in its first report, which is available via the committee website along with other examples of the committee’s reports.
The current Chair of the Committee is Baroness Drake. For more information about the committee or the post of legal adviser please contact the Clerk of the Committee at firstname.lastname@example.org