Thursday, 8 October 2009

The demise of the Law Lords


What was the pressing need to dispense with the Law Lords?

There was no obvious failure in the system that justified what has turned into a very expensive "modernisation", with nearly £60 million spent adapting the Middlesex Guildhall to the requirements of the court. And there are deeper concerns about this reform, which go to the heart of Labour's disdain for our country's constitution


Telegraph View - Oct 2009

As usual with this Governments badly thought though laws and reforms, this move may prove to have the opposite effect of that intended. A Supreme Court is likely to be emboldened to go much further than its predecessor in making rulings beyond what Parliament intended. The Law Lords were woven into the warp and weft of our constitutional settlement. We are unpicking it at our peril.

I think that before we do any more meddling with our system that those that propose to do the meddling read Walter Bagehot’s book “The English Constitution”. In the modern versions it is also worth reading the prefaces, which set the scene, and translate what Bagehot analysed into modern terms.

Walter Bagehot's The English Constitution (1867) is the best account of the history and working of the British political system ever written. As arguments raged in mid-Victorian Britain about giving the working man the vote, and democracies overseas were pitched into despotism and civil war, Bagehot took a long, cool look at the 'dignified' and 'efficient' elements which made the English system the envy of the world.

I give you an extract from Wikipedia:
While Bagehot's references to parliament have become dated, his observations on the monarchy are seen as central to the understanding of the principles of constitutional monarchy. He defined the rights and role of a monarch vis-à-vis a government as three-fold:
  • The right to be consulted;
  • The right to advise;
  • The right to warn.
Generations of British monarchs and heirs apparent and presumptive have studied Bagehot's analysis.

He also divided the constitution into two components: the Dignified (that part which is symbolic) and the Efficient (the way things actually work and get done).
Walter Bagehot also praised what we now refer to as a "parliamentary system" (which he termed "cabinet government"). At the same time, he mocked the American system for numerous flaws and absurdities he perceived, and its comparative lack of flexibility and accountability. In his words, "a parliamentary system educates the public, while a presidential system corrupts it."


You can but it at Amazon etc.


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