Sunday, June 10, 2007

Parliamentary sovereignty is not the sine qua non of democracy

Henry Porter has an interesting article on constitutional reform as proposed by the Conservative party's democracy taskforce, chaired by Ken Clarke:

The interesting part of the Clarke report, which is essential reading, is that in seeking to restore life and power to Parliament, there is an implicit argument against a bill of rights because such a bill would place certain areas of law beyond MPs' reach. That challenges the principle of parliamentary sovereignty. Power would pass to unelected judges. I have few problems with this, given the judiciary's record in standing up to Blair, but the loss of parliamentary sovereignty, even in its current limp manifestation, would be a profound change in our constitution and this needs care and consideration.

In the end, judicial enforcement of constitutional rules is all that separates the rule of law from an elective dictatorship. Jeffrey Jowell, UCL's professor of public law, believes that the courts already have the power to strike down unconstitutional legislation.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

There are many evidences showing that Parliament's Sovereignty kept ceasing, esp. after joining EU. It may be a good sign as there should not be too much discretions be vested in one specify governing body in a democratic country at the first place. However, if there is one day that the Parliament Supremacy ceases to existe, will it mean that UK's most special feature, i.e. the unwritten constitution, will also be lost? Will UK be willing to sacrifice the flexibility that they used to have for the past hundreds of years in governing the country and shift themselves to join the countries with written constitution? I wonder...