Author Topic: Clause 2 - Early parliamentary general elections | Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964 (Amendment) | Commons debates  (Read 1879 times)

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Offline Fido

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Clause 2 - Early parliamentary general elections | Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964 (Amendment) | Commons debates
1 December 2010, 3:45 pm

I rise to make a brief contribution. I have listened with great interest to the debate and I await with even greater interest the Minister's response to the very well advocated position on amendment 6, with which I have great sympathy.

It seems blindingly simple to me. Clause 2(3) stops at the words, "for all purposes." The comparison with section 3 of the Parliament Act 1911 has been made, so why not include the extra words,

"and shall not be questioned in any court of law"?

The amendment proposes the use of the word "whatsoever", which was no doubt an attempt by my hon. Friend the. Member for Stone (Mr Cash) to deal with the European question-that is perfectly legitimate and I understand entirely the reason for his wording-but the point is the same: if such a provision was good in 1911, why is it not good now? If anything, the balance between Parliament and the courts has deteriorated, as the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent Central (Tristram Hunt) eloquently outlined. The balance is now extremely fine, and it is in danger of being overturned in favour of judicial activism.

It may well be that reliance will be placed upon the residual powers of article 9 of the Bill of Rights, but as an Act of Parliament, that too is subject to judicial interpretation. Over the years, it has been interpreted in a variety of ways by the courts. Notably, it has been impliedly waived or restricted by this House. Section 13 of the Defamation Act 1996 is a good example of Parliament deciding, in effect, to allow its privilege to be qualified. I have strong views on the wisdom of that legislation-it was foolish and has led to unintended consequences, which are at the heart of this debate.

No Member of Parliament wants a diminution of its authority or power. This is an elected Chamber and we represent the people of this country. Sovereignty means just that. It is right that all hon. Members worry-even if it is sounds like lawyers' caution-about any further unintended diminution of our authority. That is why I support amendment 6. Why not change clause 2(3) to put things as far beyond doubt as possible, mirroring what legislators did in 1911, to ensure that the spectre of the judiciary questioning and second-guessing the proceedings of the House does not become a reality?

Source: Robert Buckland's recent appearances (TheyWorkForYou)