Sunday, 21 June 2009

Parliamentary Sovereignty

One of the occupational hazards of being a university lecturer is that it becomes impossible to read about your subject - without spotting quotes to use in exam questions. Though (fortunately) I no longer write exam questions - the hazard remains.

I've just read the "Commons Diary" which Sir Menzies Campbell wrote in the House Magazine of May 25th 2009 (I am reliant upon being passed second hand copies - £195 for a years subscription puts it outside my budget!). Commenting on Gordon Brown's statement on parliamentary reform he wrote -

"The doctrine of the supremacy of Parliament is over. Where once Parliament fought with the King to assert its sovereignty, the Commons is now to cede its sovereignty, over some matters at least, to the people. English constitutional doctrine (though not Scottish) is that Parliament is sovereign. Not any more. If it is good enough for MPs' expenses, why not for going to war, or any other issue with even the most minor constitutional effect?

Gordon Brown may not have intended it, but he may have taken the first step to a wholly written constitution."

As all the best exam questions say - "Discuss."