The system of self-regulation of the press constructed in 1991 in the wake of the Calcutt Inquiry in 1990 failed to prevent these lapses, and the image of the press was again damaged as a result."
Tuesday, 31 July 2007
The system of self-regulation of the press constructed in 1991 in the wake of the Calcutt Inquiry in 1990 failed to prevent these lapses, and the image of the press was again damaged as a result."
Monday, 30 July 2007
Sunday, 29 July 2007
Constitutional law sudents are treated to a useful guide to major developments in the first chapter. Specific issues in the relationships between institutions are to be found in Chapter 2 (Executive and Judiciary); Chapter 3 (Parliament and Judiciary) and Chapter 4 (Judiciary, Media and Public). The papers by
Kate Malleson on the Effect of the Constitutional Reform Act 2005 on the Relationship between the Judiciary, the Executive and Parliament
Professor Anthony Bradley on (1) The New Constitutional Relationship between the Judiciary, Government and Parliament (2) further paper on that relationship about the recent changes in the machinery of Government.
Professor Paul Craig on the Rule of Law
are to be recommended. Appendix 6 lists all the 'declarations of incompatibility' made under the Human Rights Act 1998.
A feast for constitutional law students, which I would strongly recommend to my students.
Thursday, 26 July 2007
Wednesday, 25 July 2007
Tuesday, 24 July 2007
Today he appears once again before the Senate Committee. Tomorrow the House Committee will meet, and its Chairman, John Conyers has vowed to hold a vote on issuing contempt citations for the White House chief of staff, Joshua Bolten, and former White House counsel Harriet Miers. Both have been asked to provide information to the committee, but have declined. Chairman Conyers said last week about Ms Miers, ""Her failure to comply with our subpoena is a serious affront to this committee and our constitutional system of checks and balances,"
Despite the heated row between the Attorney General and Congress, and the problems within the Justice Department Gonzales will tell the Senate ""I could walk away or I could devote my time, effort and energy to fix the problems. Since I have never been one to quit, I decided that the best course of action was to remain here."A full Washington Post article can be found at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/07/23/AR2007072300579.html
Monday, 23 July 2007
On Monday the House of Commons will debate and vote upon a report from the Committee on Standards & Privileges concerning George Galloway.
Recommendations to the House
75. On Mr Galloway’s failure to register and declare his interests, he has recognised his shortcomings. As to his use of parliamentary resources to support his work for the Mariam Appeal, he maintains that this was relatively modest in scale. We disagree and find that it went beyond what was reasonable.
76. Had these been the only matters before us, we would have confined ourselves to seeking an apology to the House. However, Mr Galloway’s conduct aimed at concealing the true source of Iraqi funding of the Mariam Appeal, his conduct towards Mr David Blair and others involved in this inquiry, his unwillingness to cooperate fully with the Commissioner, and his calling into question of the Commissioner’s and our own integrity have in our view damaged the reputation of the House. In accordance with precedent, we recommend that he apologise to the House, and be suspended from its service for a period of eighteen actual sitting days.129 As the House is shortly to go into its Summer Recess, we further recommend that Mr Galloway’s period of suspension should begin on October 8, the day it resumes.
It will then consider a number of Statutory Instruments and the Forced Marriage (Civil Protection) Bill.
There will be a debate on the Government's draft Legislative Programme on Wednesday, and on Thursday there will be a debate on the motion for the adjournment for the summer recess. This allows members to raise issues of concern to them. The House of Lords will continue clearing legislation - as the final stages of key bills such as the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Bill are reached, and ping pong continues in both Houses.
In the House of Representatives there will be 29 bills considered under the suspensions procedure on Monday and one on Tuesday. Three major bills will be considered during the rest of the week - the Appropriations bills for the Departments of Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development; and the Departments of Commerce and Justice, and Science - plus the Farm Bill.
The Senate's Calendar of business for Monday reads -
1.—Ordered, That at 2:00 p.m. on Monday, July 23, 2007, the Senate proceed to the
consideration of S. 1642, a bill to extend the authorization of programs under the Higher Education Act of 1965, and for other purposes. Ordered further, That there be 8 hours of debate on the bill and any amendments thereto with 2 hours of the time equally divided and controlled by the Senator from Massachusetts (Mr. Kennedy) and the Senator from Wyoming (Mr. Enzi) or their designees; provided that time on any first degree amendment be limited to 30 minutes equally divided and controlled and there be an additional 15 minutes equally divided and controlled for any second degree amendment.
Ordered further, That the only amendments in order other than the committee-reported
substitute amendment be a total of 12 first degree amendments which must be relevant to the matter of S. 1642 or the committee-reported substitute, with 6 for each manager, and an additional managers’ amendment which has been cleared by the managers and the Leaders, with no other first degree amendments in order; provided further, that second degree amendments be in order and be relevant to the first degree amendment to which they are offered.
Ordered further, That upon the use or yielding back of time and the disposition of all amendments, the substitute amendment, as amended, if amended, be agreed to, the bill, as amended, be read a third time, and the Senate proceed to vote on passage of the bill.
2.—Ordered, That on Tuesday, July 24, 2007, upon disposition of S. 1642, the Senate
proceed to the consideration of H.R. 2638, an act making appropriations for the Department
of Homeland Security for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2008, and for other purposes.
Friday, 20 July 2007
Does the Minister understand that, in the Green Paper and his Statement today, to describe the Conservative Party as being committed to a substantially elected House of Lords is wholly unfounded? The actual words of the manifesto are:
“We will seek cross-party consensus for a substantially elected House of Lords”.
Everyone who has spoken so far has paid tribute to the immense quality of the work done in this place. The suicide bombers, therefore, are suicidal not merely in reflecting themselves; the suicide bombers, as so often, are going destroy the building in which they are found, without any rational argument at all having been advanced for that action being taken. Suicide bombers generally are insane as well."
Thursday, 19 July 2007
My facebook name is 'J David Morgan'
Wednesday, 18 July 2007
Monday, 16 July 2007
There's a very interesting article in today's Washington Post by Shankar Vedantam, which I would recommend.
There are some valuable comments which have been posted in response - they can be found at
One of the 'friends of Washminster' Bob Carr, a former Congressman from Michigan, has posted his response:-
"Bravo. This is the first article I have seen in a long time that puts the relationship of money and politics in perspective. Please devote more time to delving into the subtleties of this relationship. And equally important make sure your journalism colleagues understand these subtleties and refrain from money-buys-votes stereotype writing - at least in the print media where we expect more.
As other comments have said the constituent relationship is paramount. Another subtly: money is often used to alter the officeholder's perceptions of which constituents represent the public interest. The effect of this is even more subtle depending on the competitiveness of the district.
But the real distortion does not come on a Daschle-type prioritization of dairy issues over international hunger issue (a priority I share). And keep in mind the prioritization was what Prof. Hall worked on, not what Tom Daschle cared about. Plus, there could have been non-money, non-constituent factors dictating that shift in Hall's work priority.
Rather the real distortion comes on the effect of money on Leader-type prioritization of what gets to the top of the collective agenda, whether subcommittee, committee or floor action. It impacts most heavily where the "constituency" is not the folks back home, but the members of the caucus. Time and time again, bills, motions, amendments are made the order of the day because the money on one side or the other says it should be there.
So, please stay with this topic. I'd like to see more like it. And thank you for this one."
Sunday, 15 July 2007
The Church of England is the State church, and so prayers are led by the Speaker’s chaplain in the House of Commons and one of the bishops in the House of Lords. Even the form of prayer is laid down. In the Commons the main prayer is as follows:
"Lord, the God of righteousness and truth, grant to our Queen and her government, to Members of Parliament and all in positions of responsibility, the guidance of your Spirit. May they never lead the nation wrongly through love of power, desire to please, or unworthy ideals but laying aside all private interests and prejudices keep in mind their responsibility to seek to improve the condition of all mankind; so may your kingdom come and your name be hallowed. Amen."
In the Lords the Bishop leading prayers (there is a rota and normally the same Bishop takes prayers each day of that particular week) uses one of the prayers set out in the Companion –
Our Father, which art in Heaven, Hallowed be Thy Name. Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done, in earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.
O Lord our heavenly Father, high and mighty, King of kings, Lord of lords, the only Ruler of princes, who dost from thy throne behold all the dwellers upon earth; most heartily we beseech thee with thy favour to behold our most Gracious Sovereign Lady Queen Elizabeth; and so replenish her with the grace of thy Holy Spirit, that she may always incline to thy will, and walk in thy way: Endue her plenteously with heavenly gifts; grant her in health and wealth long to live; strengthen her that she may vanquish and overcome all her enemies; and finally after this life she may attain everlasting joy and felicity, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Almighty God, the Fountain of all Goodness, We humbly beseech thee to bless Philip Duke of Edinburgh, Charles Prince of Wales and all the Royal Family: Endue them with thy Holy Spirit; enrich them with thy Heavenly Grace; prosper them with all happiness; and bring them to thine everlasting kingdom, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Almighty God, by whom alone Kings reign, and Princes decree justice; and from whom alone cometh all counsel, wisdom, and understanding; we thine unworthy servants, here gathered together in thy Name, do most humbly beseech thee to send down thy Heavenly Wisdom from above, to direct and guide us in all our consultations; and grant that, we having thy fear always before our eyes, and laying aside all private interests, prejudices, and partial affections, the result of all our counsels may be to the glory of thy blessed Name, the maintenance of true Religion and Justice, the safety, honour, and happiness of the Queen, the publick wealth, peace and tranquillity of the Realm, and the uniting and knitting together of the hearts of all persons and estates within the same, in true Christian Love and Charity one towards another, through Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour. Amen.
Prevent us, O Lord, in all our doings, with thy most gracious favour, and further us with thy continual help, that in all our works begun, continued, and ended in thee, we may glorify thy Holy Name, and finally by thy mercy obtain everlasting Life, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Ghost, be with us all evermore. Amen.
In Congress, in addition to the chaplain of each House, prayers may be read by an invited clergyman. Last Thursday Senate prayers were interrupted as “Christian” activists interrupted a prayer being led, for the first time in the Senate’s history, by a Hindu.
Saturday, 14 July 2007
Friday, 13 July 2007
Thursday, 12 July 2007
Already there are a number of bills which are moving between the two Houses - with amendmends being considered by the other House. This process is referred to as 'ping-pong' Last night the Lords sent back to the Commons (after completing all readings in the House of lords) the Pensions Bill - with amendments.
According to "House of Lords Business" the current status is -
Waiting for consideration of Commons amendments and reasons
Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement [HL] - to be considered 17 July
Consumers, Estate Agents and Redress [HL] - to be considered 18 July
Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide - to be considered 17 July
Returned to the Commons with amendments and reasons
Statistics and Registration Service
Tuesday, 10 July 2007
Asked if much would be made of the fixed rate mortgage plan tomorrow, the PMS replied that it would be best to wait for the statement on that, but detailed announcements on this would come from the Treasury.
Asked if this legislation was for pre-legislative scrutiny ahead of being formally included in The Queen's Speech, or was it just Bills, the PMS replied that we would not be publishing draft Bills. We would be publishing a list of Bills with some explanation of what the main items in those Bills will be, for consultation prior to The Queen's Speech.
Asked where this left The Queens' Speech, the PMS replied that it left The Queen's Speech as The Queen's Speech. This whole process had been conducted in full consultation with the Palace."
"Mr Blair's decision to put his close friend forward is likely to provoke accusations of cronyism at a time when prosecutors are deciding whether to press charges in the cash-for-honours affair."
The claim is that Tony Blair will submit Peter Mandelson's name as part of the 'resignation honours list' to become a member of the House of Lords. It is a long established tradition that a retiring Prime Minister has one final list of honours he proposes that the Queen bestows.
Of course, a European Commissioner being given a peerage isn't exactly news - Currently the House of Lords has amongst its membership - Leon Brittain (1989-99) Chris Patten (1999-2004); Christopher Tugendhat (1977-85); Stanley Clinton Davis (1985-9); Neil Kinnock (1995-2004); Ivor Richard (1981-85) - in fact, of the 12 British citizens who have served as European Commissioners only Peter Mandelson and Bruce Millan (1989-95) have not yet become Peers.
In researching for this post I came across a number of blogs from Conservatives who were already attacking Mr Blair for a honours list that has yet to appear. Perhaps the following from the Churchill Society's website will sober them up
"Margaret Thatcher, was the first woman to become Prime Minister holding this office from 1979 to 1990. Sadly she will also be remembered as the Prime Minister who, with the exception of Lloyd George, exploited the honours system quite ruthlessly to raise funds for the Conservative Party."
In 'The Queen has been pleased', John Walker reviews her political awards only from 1979 to 1985. But her policy towards the use of honours can be judged from the two tables he produced. In the first he lists the names of :-
11 private sector industrialists given peerages all of whom, directed companies which gave total donations of £1.9 million pounds to the Conservative Party funds'
Here are examples listed by Walker in his book, of the larger amounts paid out by companies:-
Sir Edwin McAlpine, Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd, £205,000.Victor Matthews, Trafalgar House, £210,000.Sir William Cayzer British Commonwealth Shipping £410,531.Sir Frank Taylor Taylor Woodrow £367,510.Sir James Hanson Hanson Trust £217,000.
Another 64 industrialists were given knighthoods, including 44 men who directed companies which gave a total of £4.4 million to Conservative Party funds. Among those who contributed major sums are names such as:-
The late Patrick Meaney of Thomas Tilling and Rank Organisation £190,000.Keith Showering Allied Lyons, £424,000.Nigel Broakes Trafalgar House:, £210,000.
Margaret Thatcher continued as Prime Minister for a further five years, during which even larger amounts of money flowed into her party's funds in exchange for honours to industrialists.
And we learned from the Public Enquiry and Report of the Nolan Committee on Standards in Public Life, (now chaired by Lord Neill), that during John Major's period as Prime Minister massive contributions were made to Conservative party funds from overseas businessmen seeking government grants for industrial bases in the UK for their operations.
Paul Johnson again:
'Not too many politicians or business people do good deeds by stealth because there is no chance of honour in it. Honours are now given to rich men who have used their - or their companies' - riches to buy them'.
Monday, 9 July 2007
Jack Straw will continue to sit in the House of Commons. Some traditionalists are saddened by the decline in the position of the Lord Chancellor. Only a few years ago he was the speaker of the House of Lords; A Senior Cabinet Minister and took part as a judge in House of Lords judicial committee decisions (the Highest Court in the English Legal System). Now the occupier of this ancient and once powerful post sits in the Commons and the title is secondary to Secretary of State for Justice.
On July 5th Andre Mackinlay asked the Secretary of State for Justice what the purpose was of the ceremony he attended at the High Court on 4 July; what undertakings he gave; what oaths he swore; and if he will make a statement.
The reply given was "On 4 July I attended a formal ceremony of the public acclamation of my appointment to the office of Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain at the Royal Courts of Justice in London. At that ceremony I took the Oath of Allegiance, the Official Oath of Office as required by the Promissory Oaths Act 1868 (“the 1868 Act”) and the new Oath required by section 17 of the Constitutional Reform Act 2005 (“the CRA 2005”) in open Court in the presence of the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales and the senior judiciary.
The Oaths were:
Oath of Allegiance:
"I John Whitaker Straw do swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, her heirs and successors, according to law."
"I John Whitaker Straw do swear that I will well and truly serve Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second in the Office of Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain."
The new Oath:
"I John Whitaker Straw, do swear that in the Office of Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain I will respect the rule of law, defend the independence of the judiciary and discharge my duty to ensure provision of resources for the efficient and effective support of the courts for which I am responsible. So help me God."
Prior to the coming into force of the CRA 2005 the Oaths taken, were those prescribed in Part 1 of the 1868 Act. The Oath of Allegiance and Official Oath are still taken in accordance with sections 2, 3 and 5 of the 1868 Act. However the requirement that the Lord Chancellor take the Judicial Oath in the form prescribed by section 6 and the second part of the Schedule to the 1868 Act was obviated by section 17 and Schedule 17 of the CRA 2005 which prescribed a new Oath as set out earlier in this answer. The long-standing format of the ceremonial was therefore amended to take account of the legislative changes which reflect the fact that the holder of the office of Lord Chancellor is no longer head of the judiciary and safeguards the interests of the judiciary as set out in the new Oath.
Marcel Berlins is not impressed. See his comments in the Guardian at http://politics.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,,2121854,00.html
Friday, 6 July 2007
Westminster (a city in its own right - distinct from London), has developed almost by accident. Once a low lying, marshy island bounded by the branches of the River Tyburn and the Thames - it was first a royal residence in the time of King Canute [Some say that it was at Westminster that the King's inability to order back the tide was proved]. Edward the Confessor build a more extensive palace in order to be close to his pet project - the building of Westminster Abbey. Kings moved out in 1512 after a fire, and during the sixteenth century it finally established itself as the permanent seat of Parliament. The Fire of 1834 almost completely destroyed the old palace (Westminster Hall was saved - under the personal direction of the Prime Minister) and the opportunity arose for a new legislative building to be built almost from scratch. The surrounding area is now impressive and well kept - but prior to the fire was a crowded, unplanned mess.
The site of Washington of course was specifically chosen as the federal capital. There are some interesting books around about the building of this (relatively) planned city. I hugely enjoyed Nicholas Mann's "The Sacred Geometry of Washington, D.C. " (2006) - which has some interesting theories and leaves you with a much better idea of how the city is structured. My current bedtime reading is "The Washington Community 1800-1828" by James Sterling Young. It was published in 1966 and gives insights into both the geography of the city and the dynamics within the different communities who first lived in Washington. At one stage there were very distinct 'legislative' and 'executive' communities.
Thursday, 5 July 2007
Just a trivia question suitable for a pub quiz? No longer. The Vice President appears to be arguing that he does not have to comply with an executive order on classified information because he is not in the Executive branch.
He gets his pay check from the Senate.
There is a certain irony in Cheney's argument - he has regularly claimed executive privilege. He has also been reported as making the following remarks:
April 9th 2003, to the American Society of Newspaper Editors he spoke of "the legitimate authority of the executive branch, the President and the Vice-President"
April 14th 2004, to students in China, he explained that it was President Eisenhower who first gave the vice president an "office in the executive branch"
Wednesday, 4 July 2007
For me, one of the great heroes of the American Revolution is Thomas Paine. Can I recommend - to English, American and all other readers of the blog his excellent book "Common Sense" - available at http://www.earlyamerica.com/earlyamerica/milestones/commonsense/text.html
For more on Independence Day visit http://www.usa.gov/Topics/Independence_Day.shtml
- House of Lords reform - the Government is committed to removing the 92 remaining hereditary peers. Cross party discussions are continuing over the makeup of the House of Lords. A statement is expected before the summer recess.
- House of Commons - the Modernisation Committee Report has been welcomed by the Government.
- The Structure of the United Kingdom - the principle of a single class of MPs has been forcefully restated. A campaign by opponents of the Government to have Scottish (and Welsh) MPs excluded from participating in matters affecting England is rejected. Devolution of powers is supported and Mr Brown has already appointed Regional Ministers. The Green paper describes their role and suggests the establishment of nine regional select committees.
Tuesday, 3 July 2007
Many of the proposals will be familiar to those who follow the American system
- (paragraph 25) There are few political decisions more important than the deployment of the Armed Forces into armed conflict. The Government can currently exercise the prerogative power to deploy the Armed Forces for armed conflict overseas without requiring any formal parliamentary agreement.
(26) The Government believes that this is now an outdated state of affairs in a modern democracy. On an issue of such fundamental importance to the nation, the Government should seek the approval of the representatives of the people in the House of Commons for significant, non-routine deployments of the Armed Forces into armed conflict, to the greatest extent possible. This needs to be done without prejudicing the Government’s ability to take swift action to protect our national security, or undermining operational security or effectiveness. The Government will therefore consult Parliament and the public on how best to achieve this.
US Constitution Article I Section 8. "The Congress shall have power to ... To declare war" - see also The War Powers Act of 1973 (Public Law 93-148)
- (31) Every year, the UK becomes party to many international treaties. These result in binding obligations for the UK under international law across a wide range of domestic and foreign policy issues. It is right that Parliament should be able to scrutinise the treaty making process.
(32) The Government’s ability to ratify treaties is currently constrained in two ways. Treaties that require changes to UK law need the enactment of prior legislation which, of course, requires the full assent of Parliament. Examples in recent years have included the Statute of the International Criminal Court6 and European Union accession treaties. Many other treaties are covered by a convention, known as the Ponsonby Rule...
(33) The Government believes that the procedure for allowing Parliament to scrutinise treaties should be formalised. The Government is of the view that Parliament may wish to hold a debate and vote on some treaties and, with a view to its doing so, will therefore consult on an appropriate means to put the Ponsonby Rule on a statutory footing.
US Constition Article II Section 2 (The President) "shall have power, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to make treaties, ..."
- In addition there are proposals for
Confirmation style hearings - paragraphs 74-78
A National Security Strategy - paragraph 97
A National Security Committee - paragraph 98 "to ensure that its policies and their delivery are coordinated and appropriate to the changing nature of the risks and challenges facing us in the 21st century. The Committee will meet regularly, under the Chairmanship of the Prime Minister, and omprise senior Cabinet colleagues from relevant departments, supported by relevant senior officials and a secretariat in the Cabinet Office"
The Prime Minister said to the House of Commons "In Britain we have a largely unwritten constitution. To change that would represent a fundamental and historic shift in our constitutional arrangements. So it is right to involve the public in a sustained debate whether there is a case for the United Kingdom developing a full British Bill of Rights and Duties, or for moving towards a written constitution."
There's much more in the Green Paper - and many consultation papers to come. How much will Westminster learn from Washington?
Monday, 2 July 2007
It was going to be a busy week anyway in Parliament, with a statement on Constitutional Reform on Monday - and the first full week of the new Government. Events have of course intervened. The discovery of two car bombs in London and the attack on Glasgow Airport which has led to the level of security being raised to "Critical" ['an attack is expected imminently'] - will dominate this weeks proceedings. The Constitutional Reform statement has been postponed and the new Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, will make a statement on the events at 3.30pm (10.30am Washington time) this afternoon.
Sunday, 1 July 2007
The full list of the new Government has been published, and is available at http://www.number-10.gov.uk/output/Page12240.asp
There are three main levels of minister
Secretary of State - the most senior minister, usually a member of the Cabinet. Has overall responsibility for a Department
Minister of State - the second level of minister.
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State - the most junior level of minister.
Most ministers are paid a salary - but Statute limits the number of paid ministerial positions, so a small number receive no pay
Ministers may be supported by a PPS (Parliamentary Private Secretary). This is an unpaid position - sometimes described as the 'ears and eyes of the Minister'. Their job is to communicate with other MPs and carry out other tasks for the Minister. It is often seen as a position where potential ministers are tried out - and if they prove to be good, paid appointment as a Minister may follow.
One of my favourite pieces of dialogue in 'Yes Minister' deals with positions within a Government Department.
James Hacker: Who else is in this department?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Well briefly, Sir, I am the Permanent Under Secretary of State, known as the Permanent Secretary. Woolley here is your Principal Private Secretary, I too have a Principal Private Secretary and he is the Principal Private Secretary to the Permanent Secretary. Directly responsible to me are ten Deputy Secretaries, 87 Under Secretaries and 219 Assistant Secretaries. Directly responsible to the Principal Private Secretary are plain Private Secretaries, and the Prime Minister will be appointing two Parliamentary Under Secretaries and you will be appointing your own Parliamentary Private Secretary.
James Hacker: Do they all type?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: No. Mrs. McKay types. She's the secretary."