Sunday, 12 July 2009

Separate, Indeed

The Ronnie Biggs case has brought out of the woodwork those who see it as some sort of affront that an elected parliamentarian accountable as such has any sort of say over these matters. They claim that this violates the peculiarly American theory of the separation of powers (what if it does?), and is contrary to the jurisprudence of a foreign court interpreting a foreign document.

On the first point, they are already going to get their way over Law Lords, and they presumably also wish to abolish all quasi-judicial functions of Ministers or of local council chairmen, as well as the role of the judges in making the whole of the Common Law, and much else besides. All because of something that they once heard on The Wire, or The Simpsons, or something.

And on the second point, both trial by jury and trial by magistrates are contrary to that document, as will eventually be found to be the case. Those who object to the quasi-judicial powers of Ministers accountable to Parliament also loathe both juries and magistrates, and for the same reason, namely hatred of the people at large.

If there is to be any change to the exercise of those Ministerial powers, then let it be to make that exercise dependent on a resolution of the House of Commons (itself elected more proportionally and from candidates selected by means of something like an open primary system), without which no ruling of the European Court of Justice, or of the European Court of Human Rights, or pursuant to the Human Rights Act, should have any effect in the United Kingdom, either. The High Court of Parliament is precisely that.

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