Last year, the Government published a Draft Deregulation Bill to get rid of some legislation that was no longer necessary. The Bill was sent to a Joint Committee for pre-legislative scrutiny. Although committees often have little time to complete their task, such scrutiny is a valuable exercise. It often leads to changes when the Government formally bring a Bill forward.
Although many provisions of the Draft Deregulation Bill were not contentious, comprising particular named measures that were no longer required, there was a clause that constituted a massive ‘Henry VIII’ provision. ‘Henry VIII clauses’ provide a minister with a power to use secondary legislation to repeal or amend primary legislation. This particular clause empowered a minister through secondary legislation to repeal an Act or provisions of an Act that in the minister’s judgement was no longer of any practical use. The orders made by the minister required parliamentary approval, but the particular process stipulated was fairly inadequate, little more than an enhanced negative procedure.
I submitted a written memorandum to the Joint Committee and was then invited to give oral evidence. I appeared in the session just before the relevant ministers. I explained why the provision was constitutionally objectionable. Ken Clarke, who had not seen my evidence, argued that the provision was essentially benign! You can see my written evidence (at page 988) and my oral evidence (at page 994) in Volume 2 of the evidence volumes. The committee in its report took my view and, in parliamentary terms, pulled no punches in its comments on the offending clause.
The Government last week introduced its Deregulation Bill in the House of Commons. The report of the Joint Committee appears to have had an effect. The offending clause has been dropped.
My Speaker’s Lecture on ‘Parliament and Political Parties’, delivered on Tuesday, was broadcast this evening on BBC Parliament. It can be viewed on BBC Democracy Live here.
I was spoilt for choice in deciding the winner of the latest caption competition. There were many excellent entries. I narrowed it down to half-a-dozen or so. I know some of my close friends (those who don’t really understand me) would assume that Princeps Senatus would be a natural winner with: ‘Now look at me. Moi. Am I not the best looking professor at Hull, as well as being the smartest?’ However, I decided to focus on those that were geared more directly to the hand gesture and met my ‘laugh out loud’ test. Barry Winetrobe and Richard Quirk came close to winning jointly with their ‘super glue’ entries and seanjm72 with his ‘At this point I do my Max Bygraves impression’ (though it may not resonate with younger readers). Tony Sands merits a commendation for relating it to the special handshake for the Hull mafia. My friends probably assumed (rightly) that DF Rostron was in with a shout with ‘At DIY, I’m all fingers and thumbs, but oratory, the words flow like fine wine’.
The one that made me laugh most when I read it, and hence is the winner, is Leon Ward with: ‘Nick Clegg and David Cameron gel together just like this…’
If he would like to get in touch, I will arrange to despatch his prize.
Thanks to everyone who sent in entries. I enjoyed them all. Note to Princeps Senatus: feel free to hang on to the entry; it may come in handy for later caption competitions….
My WordPress stats reveal that caption competitions are the most popular posts on the blog. As there has not yet been a competition this year, I thought I would have a New Year caption competition.
The picture shows me in full flow. The reader to supply the most amusing caption will win a copy of either The Voice of the Backbenchers or Eminent Parliamentarians. Multiple entries are permitted (well, within limit). There is no cash equivalent (prizes are priceless) and the editor’s decision is final. Feel free to submit your entry….
I now have another publication to report. I have an article in the latest issue (shown right) of the Asia-Pacific Law Review, vol. 21 (2), 2013. The article – ‘A Democratic Dialogue? Parliament and Human Rights in the United Kingdom’ – looks at the relationship between legislatures and courts. It identifies three models of the relationship: the respective autonomy, competing authority, and democratic dialogue models. It then examines the extent to which the relationship between Parliament and the courts in the UK fits any one and focuses on human rights. The three models I first identified in my keynote lecture at the annual conference of the Dutch Society for Constitutional Law at Leiden University in December 2012.
This is not my first piece in the journal. My article, ‘Adding Value? The Role of Second Chambers’, was published in 2007. For those interested, you can read a copy of that article here.
The New Year has got off to a good start with the arrival of my latest publication. It is a chapter, ‘Parliament Act 1911 in its Historical Context’, published in Law in Politics, Politics in Law, edited by David Feldman and published by Hart Publishing. The chapter derives from a paper I gave on the Parliament Act at a conference, organised by the University of Cambridge Centre for Public Law in November 2011, to mark the centenary of the Act. Regular readers will not be surprised to know that it builds on my 2011 History of Parliament Annual Lecture, which analysed the reasons for the passage of the Act.
The book has a broad range, with sections covering Lawyer-Politicians, Lawyers Advising Government, Politics and Legal Change (the section that includes my chapter), and Politics, the Constitution and Beyond. You can click on the title of the book (above) for more details.