Monday, June 29, 2009

Someone takes it seriously

It has not gained much traction, even on this blog, but it is still a very serious issue – and so says William Ress-Mogg.

"We should be deeply concerned that panicking MPs are on the verge of throwing away their hard-won freedoms," he writes, warning that the House of Commons is in danger of cutting its own constitutional throat.

Fortunately, the Clerk of the House is trying to stop them. The clerk is Malcolm Jack, a man of scholarship and courage who is the ultimate referee on all constitutional questions which affect the Commons. His core duty is to advise the House, its Speaker, the committees and MPs on the practice and procedure of the House, and its rights.

Rees-Mogg continues with the tale, echoing our own views that, "Rushed legislation is usually a disaster, and this would be legislation in a panic."

Unfortunately, in the present depressing climate of opinion, where MPs have eroded any sympathy they might otherwise have expected, the public is not at all concerned about the rights of Parliament.

But, Rees-Mogg sternly tells us, "They should worry a lot. The privileges of Parliament are needed to protect the public against the raw power of the executive. That was the justification for the Bill of Rights in the 17th century, and is still the justification today."

He is dead right, of course. And that is why we are concerned and remain concerned. And if MPs do make a stand, we should support them – loathsome though many of them are. Parliament is bigger and more important than its members. And Britain needs a strong and independent and new House of Commons, adds Rees-Mogg.

He believes that would mean an early election, which we are not going to get. If instead, we get a parliamentary standards quango, we are in trouble. As the man observes, "no one needs an ipsy-dipsy quango."