Time to cut final wire on parliamentary time bomb

November 12, 2006 12:00 AM

Liberal Democrats have demanded that the constitution should not be changed on a whim.

The demand came in the House of Commons as it debated the Lords Amendments to the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill.

David Howarth, MP for Cambridge, commented:

"The Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill relies far too much on trust. Why should we trust all future ministers not to try to change the constitution by means of an Order, without parliamentary debate and scrutiny? Why should we simply trust their judgment on whether the matter will be of constitutional significance? We need an objective test. This is the role of the courts.

"Most of our constitution is about the power of Ministers and their relationships with Parliament and the law. Minister's powers result from the law and so they should not be given special privileges to determine what those powers are. Otherwise the rule of law itself breaks down."

The Liberal Democrat amendment was not passed. The Bill itself passed its final stage in the Commons earlier this week.

Mr. Howarth commented:

David Howarth MP

David Howarth MP

"At the beginning this bill was nicknamed the Abolition of Parliament Bill by Cambridge lawyers. It has been like a time bomb ticking away in Parliament. Slowly various wires that connect the timer to the explosive device have been snipped away. Our amendment would have been cutting the last small wire to make the entire Bill safe."

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