[ 19:41 friday 7 december – piscita, isola di stromboli ]
last night the uk house of lords did a splendid job of picking apart the government’s “anti-terrorism” bill. a couple snippets of debate are reproduced below, together with links to the pages of hansard from which the excerpts are drawn. crucially the noble lords made amendments which remove the exclusion of judicial review, moderate the draconian snooping powers and remove the ill-considered clauses creating a new crime of “religious hatred” in their entirety. in so doing they have performed their function of defending the constitution and inhibiting the passage of bad legislation.
now the bill will go back to the house of commons where the government will, without a second thought, overturn every single one of the lords’ amendments.
the lords feel strongly about the bill, as the debate attests. they will fight the government with every means the constitution permits them. in theory they could delay the bill for up to twelve months. the government has indicated it expects it to be law before christmas. not only will the lords fail, i suspect the government fully intends to use this fight as a pretext for further diminishing the house of lords’ powers. i predict we shall see heated accusations that this unelected body is hampering the elected government’s efforts to safeguard citizens’ security.
Lord Mayhew of Twysden:
My submission is that in the Bill we should not be driven to surrender a precious safeguard against the abuse of power, especially when there is no need for it. If one did so, one could be sure that such a precedent would soon be followed because, in my experience, all departmental Ministers resent judicial review.
Lord Donaldson of Lymington:
Where does this leave us? If the amendment is carried it remains most unlikely that judicial review will ever be sought. If it is rejected, the message will go out loud and clear, not as the noble and learned Attorney–General believes, that judicial review is unnecessary, but that the Government are bent on having the power to operate outside the rule of law.