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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

UK Supreme Court protecting Parliament not liberty

The United Kingdom's Supreme Court still is a new institution and many people feared that it would lead to the end of the old convention of the supremacy of Parliament. The Supreme Court in Canada (for ill or for good) certainly changed the political balance of power. Yet in a recent decision the UK Supreme Court seems to be reinforcing the power of Parliament.

According to the BBC, the Supreme Court ruled that a Treasury order (ie a regulation made by the Treasury Department that did not go through Parliament) which freezes the assets of terrorist suspects is unconstitutional. Lord Hope, the Deputy President of the Supreme Court, declared the following:

"Even in the face of the threat of international terrorism, the safety of the people is not the supreme law. We must be just as careful to guard against unrestrained encroachments on personal liberty."

Before you start cheering you should take note of something very important here. Lord Hope also said this:

"This is a clear example of an attempt to adversely affect the basic rights of the citizen without the clear authority of Parliament,"

and this:

"Nobody should conclude that the result of these appeals constitutes judicial interference with the will of Parliament. On the contrary, it upholds the supremacy of Parliament in deciding whether or not measures should be imposed that affect the fundamental rights of those in this country."

So basically what this decision means is that government is free to launch "unrestrained encroachments on personal liberty" just as long as it has the permission to do so by about three hundred people. I feel more free already.

By the way, the civil servants that put made the Treasury order in the first place are now saying that it is going to be fast tracked through Parliament. Any guesses on how much debate there will be? Anyone want to bet me, party discipline being what it is, that it won't pass on the nod?

Thank you Supreme Court for making sure that Parliament retains sole rights over the taking away of freedom from the British people.

Posted by Hugh MacIntyre on January 27, 2010 | Permalink


Hugh: excellent post. One day, perhaps both the judiciary and the legislature will recognize the supremacy of the inviolability of every individual's life, liberty and property.

Posted by: Paul McKeever | 2010-01-27 9:00:09 PM

Thank you Supreme Court for making sure that Parliament retains sole rights over the taking away of freedom from the British people.

Posted by Hugh MacIntyre on January 27, 2010 | Permalink

The British have been losing rights at a incredible rate. Everything from the size of holes in their salt shakers to the now more than 2000 cameras IN peoples houses watched by social workers to make sure that children are getting a proper breakfast and being treated in a proper manner.There are laws which dictate what temperature range you may walk your pet and tens of thousands of cameras to eliminate any notion of privacy anywhere in the country.
The new ruling pretty well eliminates England as a democracy.

Posted by: peterj | 2010-01-27 9:04:23 PM

Parliament in Canada is supreme just so long as it makes reasonable laws and can keep the law after every five years. Otherwise Canada is ruled by anywhere from five to nine persons of immense and Supreme power.

Posted by: Agha Ali Arkhan | 2010-01-27 11:33:07 PM

Sorry but it should be elected representatives legislating and not non elected judges as we have now in Canada.

Posted by: Alain | 2010-01-28 6:12:20 PM

Alain: Agreed. But that's not the way it is. BWAHAHAHAHA!

Posted by: Agha Ali Arkhan | 2010-01-29 12:17:42 PM

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