And so it passes

I don’t know how or why it worked – all my education and instinct tells me that it shouldn’t. But the House of Lords has worked quite well over my lifetime. It’s trimmed the excesses of many of the worst aspects of government without really going against the will of the people. It’s made popular choices when the government has been acting against the popular will, and it’s made unpopular choices when that was the right call.

In among that, there has been a subsection that has also worked well: the Law Lords. Judges specifically put into the House, wherein they can effect laws and ensure that laws are being followed.

In the course of doing that, they’ve pissed the government off many, many times. They’ve put obstacles in the way of legalised torture; they worked against internment (both in the 70s and in this decade); they’ve called time on many of the worst excesses of government and they’ve dealt with the worst crimes of individuals.

And now they’ve gone.

It’s not the individual cases that caused them to go; it’s that they weren’t quite pliable enough. They ruled that too many recent laws were shoddy, and thusly they’ve been got rid of.

To be replaced by judges selected by quango, and sitting in a fine building opposite Parliament.

I can see two ways that this can go horribly wrong: one, the quango will be too political, and the court will be neutered by party politicians who want their schemes to go through without too much in the way of scrutiny. This is my most likely outcome.

The other is almost worse: the Court could be too powerful; there are those who say that the US Supreme Court has become too self-important since it got its own “Temple of Justice”, becoming too activist and overstepping its constitutional boundaries. We don’t want that here; the idea of a court redefining laws is not at all a good thing. I don’t think this is the likely outcome, but I think that, given time, it could happen.

So, two big downsides. Yet to see any upsides…

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