Should the UK dump Parliamentary Sovereignty? Watch

Grand High Witch
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It basically means that if it willed as such Parliament could enact the most hideous draconian laws tomorrow.

I think we should dump Parliamentary Sovereignty in the sense of having a US model where the Supreme Court can overturn legislation if unconstitutional (I believe our Supreme Court cannot in theory).
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ByEeek
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Laws can be overturned by our supreme court. For example, just recently, the law stating that you can't take your child out of school on holiday has been successfully challenged.

Parliament is not above the law but yes, they could enact draconian laws like Theresa May's spying bill. Thankfully, we have the European Bill of Human Rights that prevents the government taking on too many powers... oh!
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999tigger
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To the OP, there is no need. its worked thus far.
We are signed up to the ECHR though.

What point are ypu making EEK?
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jamestg
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(Original post by Grand High Witch)
It basically means that if it willed as such Parliament could enact the most hideous draconian laws tomorrow.

I think we should dump Parliamentary Sovereignty in the sense of having a US model where the Supreme Court can overturn legislation if unconstitutional (I believe our Supreme Court cannot in theory).
No. I'm sorry sovereignty must be held in accountable hands.
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Josb
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There should be a second elected chamber with real power to avoid that.
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Studentus-anonymous
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Supreme court judges are appointed so no, I'd rather that legislation is in the hands of accountable/fireable MPs.

Plus in our parliamentary system technically parliament has executive primacy (the PM is simply a 'first amongst equals' within parliament), so it somewhat restricts the ability for our national leader to act outside of oversight and parliamentary authority.
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L i b
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I think what we have works well.

Parliamentary sovereignty, in my view, is always taken to be something rather more than it is. In reality, it is little more than a judicial tool for interpreting what the law is: it is a rule of recognition.

Absolute power does obviously not lie with parliament: its power is limited in fact rather than law, most notably by the people. It is also notable that parliamentary sovereignty is not generally considered to be absolute: the 2005 case of Jackson v. the Attorney General contains a bit of theorising to this effect.

Taken in extremis very few constitutional orders work effectively. When you talk of tyranny and other forms of absolutism, in practice dictators and the like take very little notice of constitutional niceties. What you're doing there is trying to apply a legal solution to a political problem.
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MagicNMedicine
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(Original post by L i b)
I think what we have works well.

Parliamentary sovereignty, in my view, is always taken to be something rather more than it is. In reality, it is little more than a judicial tool for interpreting what the law is: it is a rule of recognition.

Absolute power does obviously not lie with parliament: its power is limited in fact rather than law, most notably by the people. It is also notable that parliamentary sovereignty is not generally considered to be absolute: the 2005 case of Jackson v. the Attorney General contains a bit of theorising to this effect.
I agree I think our system is generally good and is why I am sceptical about constitutional changes.

Our politicians' decisions are limited by their accountability to the public at elections. Which is why the result of the EU referendum has an impact - on its own it has no legal power to enforce anything. MPs can vote against Brexit and block it in Parliament, but MPs in 'Leave' constituencies will be wary of the potential of that being held against them at the next election.

We need to preserve the institutions of our democracy against things that can threaten them. When it comes to striking trade deals, avoid having Investor-State-Dispute-Settlement clauses that allow a supranational court to rule on the decisions of a democratically elected government just because legislation may harm the profits of a multinational corporation. And also we should resist the pushes from some (associated with the Brexit movement so potentially now more influential) to politicise the Civil Service by ending the traditional of impartiality and allowing ministerial appointments as in the USA. This is inevitably going to be a bad thing - whilst right wing Conservative ministers might like the idea of bringing in conservative senior civil servants to drive things through, once the political pendulum switches and we end up with a Labour government in future they will just fill the senior civil service with trade unionists/leaders of left wing groups.
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username878267
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Yes but only for constitutional principles and human rights.
*We should have a codified entrenched constitution, like the USA (without the stupid ones like gun control).

Human rights are better protected by independent and impartial judges than populist politicians.
*
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username878267
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(Original post by Studentus-anonymous)
Supreme court judges are appointed so no, I'd rather that legislation is in the hands of accountable/fireable MPs.

Plus in our parliamentary system technically parliament has executive primacy (the PM is simply a 'first amongst equals' within parliament), so it somewhat restricts the ability for our national leader to act outside of oversight and parliamentary authority.
We need to get away from this idea that elected always equals good and appointed always equals bad.

Some positions are better elected, others which require special expertise, like the administration of justice is better appointed.

I like the fact judges are appointed on merit and are necessarily impartial and independent in nature. They don't have to appeal to populism or any party, they can make independent decisions. *
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L i b
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(Original post by MagicNMedicine)
We need to preserve the institutions of our democracy against things that can threaten them. When it comes to striking trade deals, avoid having Investor-State-Dispute-Settlement clauses that allow a supranational court to rule on the decisions of a democratically elected government just because legislation may harm the profits of a multinational corporation.
Well, ISDS basically provides impartial arbitration and can propose compensation if someone's property is unduly expropriated. We don't have to worry about that generally because we have the rule of law, and a tendency to compensate private individuals and businesses if the State takes something from them.

It's not like it's not been a problem before. How we protect investors in other countries has always been an issue. ISDS is preferable, in my view, to real conflict. I'm not saying a decent ISDS mechanism would've prevented the Suez Crisis or anything like that, but on a smaller scale it's pretty important that investors are protected.

And also we should resist the pushes from some (associated with the Brexit movement so potentially now more influential) to politicise the Civil Service by ending the traditional of impartiality and allowing ministerial appointments as in the USA. This is inevitably going to be a bad thing - whilst right wing Conservative ministers might like the idea of bringing in conservative senior civil servants to drive things through, once the political pendulum switches and we end up with a Labour government in future they will just fill the senior civil service with trade unionists/leaders of left wing groups.
The problem is that we inherently do politicise the Civil Service and have done for a very long time. I don't just mean in terms of the appointment of special advisers - there's fewer of them now than there have been recently, if I remember my stats - even if they're the most visible form of it.

The problem is that Civil Servants very often go beyond and stray into the political arena. That's a cultural thing and does vary from department (and, in devolved terms, government) to department. I'm not sure what you do about that.

In terms of special advisers though, I'm not sure we'll ever eliminate them. They are extremely valued by ministers on both sides.
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TercioOfParma
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Well, if that happens we could rebel and instate a new government if we really needed to like happened in 1642. 100k soldiers vs 70m people, I wonder who would win.
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Grand High Witch
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(Original post by TercioOfParma)
Well, if that happens we could rebel and instate a new government if we really needed to like happened in 1642. 100k soldiers vs 70m people, I wonder who would win.
The soldiers every time.
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TercioOfParma
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(Original post by Grand High Witch)
The soldiers every time.
I was joking, but still, they wouldn't have enough bullets.
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sleepysnooze
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(Original post by ByEeek)
Laws can be overturned by our supreme court. For example, just recently, the law stating that you can't take your child out of school on holiday has been successfully challenged.

Parliament is not above the law but yes, they could enact draconian laws like Theresa May's spying bill. Thankfully, we have the European Bill of Human Rights that prevents the government taking on too many powers... oh!
1) wtf the law of our constitution won't allow for any court, be it the high court or the supreme court, challenging a parliamentary statute. I bet you £10000 that you're mistaken. what youre probably talking about is a misintepretation of the law itself by the executive, or simply the school authorities. there's no way in hell a court would say "let's tell parliament to think again" - parliament is voted for by the people, so they're sovereign. UK courts can overturn the decisions of UK public bodies (i.e. tribunals, administrations, quangos, non-departmental bodies, etc) but NOT parliament. they've *never* done that.
2) the "european convention on human rights" isn't anything to do with the EU. the council of europe =/= the EU. we can be a part of the COE (which was established in 1948-ish) without being a member of the EU, which was established in the late 50s (european steel and coal community)
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Joep95
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(Original post by sleepysnooze)
1) wtf the law of our constitution won't allow for any court, be it the high court or the supreme court, challenging a parliamentary statute. I bet you £10000 that you're mistaken. what youre probably talking about is a misintepretation of the law itself by the executive, or simply the school authorities. there's no way in hell a court would say "let's tell parliament to think again" - parliament is voted for by the people, so they're sovereign. UK courts can overturn the decisions of UK public bodies (i.e. tribunals, administrations, quangos, non-departmental bodies, etc) but NOT parliament. they've *never* done that.
2) the "european convention on human rights" isn't anything to do with the EU. the council of europe =/= the EU. we can be a part of the COE (which was established in 1948-ish) without being a member of the EU, which was established in the late 50s (european steel and coal community)
I think what he was referring to isn't challenging the statute but how the courts interpret it
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sleepysnooze
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(Original post by joecphillips)
I think what he was referring to isn't challenging the statute but how the courts interpret it
yeh but thats not "parliamentary sovereignty" being challenged though. if the government (or specifically a government body) tries to enact it in a way that the courts find is against the wording of the statute then they'll strike it down, as they should - even if parliament intended for a law to be read in a certain way, they can't just expect a court to read their minds - all they have is the text on paper
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ByEeek
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(Original post by sleepysnooze)
1) wtf the law of our constitution won't allow for any court, be it the high court or the supreme court, challenging a parliamentary statute. I bet you £10000 that you're mistaken. what youre probably talking about is a misintepretation of the law itself by the executive, or simply the school authorities. there's no way in hell a court would say "let's tell parliament to think again" - parliament is voted for by the people, so they're sovereign. UK courts can overturn the decisions of UK public bodies (i.e. tribunals, administrations, quangos, non-departmental bodies, etc) but NOT parliament. they've *never* done that.
2) the "european convention on human rights" isn't anything to do with the EU. the council of europe =/= the EU. we can be a part of the COE (which was established in 1948-ish) without being a member of the EU, which was established in the late 50s (european steel and coal community)
Fair enough. However, having thought about this a bit more, the idea that the courts are the highest arbiter of law is a farce. After all, in the US system, challenging legislation as unconstitutional simply uses the constitution as a piece of law through which to challenge a new piece of legislation. So too in this country, we often get conflicting pieces of law and the courts decide. If, however, parliament could not pass law without it being challenged we would end up in a ridiculous situation where laws were constantly being challenged and undermined by the man on the street via the supreme court.
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jeremy1988
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I can't recommend an overly strong Supreme Court system. It tends to result in judges, appointed for life, that essentially end up legislating from the bench. We even had the Supreme Court decide a Presidential election result once, back in the year 2000.

The problem with the US system seems to be that Congress is increasingly impotent, judges care more about promoting their own political agenda than interpreting the law impartially, and the President has too much power via executive agencies to do whatever he wants unilaterally.

Given that judicial activism is inevitable in this day and age, judges should be elected and have terms. They shouldn't be appointed for life. It means any president that gets to fill a vacancy gets to control the political direction of the country in this indirect manner until his appointee dies or quits. That seems a little ridiculous...

The danger with the court is that if the justices currently sitting have one set of political values, and the people vote for another... then the justices can just poke around and use lawyer logic to declare everything they don't like unconstitutional. This happens over and over, and the way in which certain laws get overturned often forces a specific interpretation of the constitution to become de facto law.
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nulli tertius
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(Original post by jeremy1988)
I can't recommend the Supreme Court system. It tends to result in judges, appointed for life, that essentially end up legislating from the bench. We even had the Supreme Court decide a Presidential election result once, back in the year 2000.
I think Bush v Gore is a poor example of a valid point. In the 2000 Presidential election the margin of victory was smaller than the margin of error. Almost everyone assumed that the courts were the proper places to try disputes in a very tight election and the Supreme Court said "no". As the courts couldn't be certain they would produce a right answer, they shouldn't interfere.

It is very noticeable that when media organisations finished their own post-event recounts; if the courts had conducted the limited recount the Democrats had asked for, the Republicans won but if the courts had conducted the greater recount the Republicans sought if there was to be a recount at all, the Democrats won. There was no single right answer.

Much better examples are the way that the political battles over gun control and abortion are fought in the courts and not through the ballot box.
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