Thursday 14 January 2010

Parliamentary Sovereignty

Yesterday, in the daily adjournment debate, the subject was "Parliamentary Sovereignty". It was led by Bill Cash, so to no one's surprise it was an idiosyncratic attack on the European Union. It did raise issues about the meaning of the the concept. Both Bill Cash's speech and Chris Bryant's response give useful insights into this peculiarly British idea.

The record in Hansard can be read here.

While I am in the United States - I am taking the opportunity to buy and read books and other material on the history of the USA, and particularly the thinking behind Independence and the Constitution. On the way back from Philadelphia and on the Metro in this morning - I read Joseph Ellis' "American Creation". I was particularly struck by his suggestion that Britain lost America because its leadership was unable to break away from the idea that it was "an axiom of political physics, a veritable Newtonian principle of political theory, that there must be one sovereign source of governance"

I have long felt that the UK has created problems for itself by holding to an unsustainable concept of parliamentary sovereignty - which has no room for shared sovereignty (in which the sum of shared sovereignty creates greater control for the nation over its own destiny and more influence in the world). It is a pity that we harm our interests today by failing to take heed of the lesson of the loss of America.
Your comments would be appreciated.