Lord Lester also spoke in Tuesday’s debate, and although he didn’t give a full explanation of why he resigned from his role as a government adviser recently, he did give some clues. He obviously hoped for a much more radical approach to reforming the prerogative, in particular, than the government plans.
Fair enough, in some ways: I’m interested in his idea that British citizens should have a right to a passport (limited by law, presumably) and generally agree with his desire to establish Parliamentary control over treaty-making and war, although I’m not at all sure such control is best established by statute. As far as war in concerned I think we already have an emerging convention that Parliament must approve the commitment of troops, and I think that will work pretty well if we allow it to develop.
On the role of the Attorney General I think he’s plain wrong: I think the fashionable idea of reforming the Attorney’s role is simply a product of some people’s strong feeling that Lord Goldsmith was wrong about Iraq, and desire to cut him down. People should realise he’s gone now (I supect many don’t: I noticed Nick Clegg called him “the Attorney” on the radio the other night, and I think there’s a “Bishop of Durham” effect with him – nobody knows who any Bishop of Durham has been, since the famous one) and that they can stop tinkering about with Baroness Scotland’s role. It’s time-wasting, tidy-minded and pointless.
And while Lord Lester is entitled to support section 145 of the Health and Social Care Act, if he thinks the YL case which section 145 reverses was wrongly decided – well, I disagree with him again.
Quote – “As far as war in concerned I think we already have an emerging convention that Parliament must approve the commitment of troops, and I think that will work pretty well if we allow it to develop.” Head of Legal, I believe that is right BUT given the control which the executive has over Parliament it is not satisfactory. The executive can control when the vote takes place and will usually leave it until all the Forces are practically in place and then allow the vote so as to put maximum pressure on opponents. This happened in 2002.