Respect to those who lost their lives, were injured, and who gave assistance

As the information about the terrorist incident in Westminster became clearer, it was obviously serious with 5 deaths and 40 injured.

My intended posts seem a little banal in comparison to the death of the unarmed policeman, the display of courage by the police and the MP Tobias Elwood.

Think Prime Minister’s words about the incident appropriate to repeat here,

“Once again today, these exceptional men and women ran towards the danger, even as they encouraged others to move the other way.”

“These streets of Westminster, home to the world’s oldest parliament, are ingrained with a spirit of freedom that echoes in some of the furthest corners of the globe.”

I recommend Harry Cole’s witness report in The Sun for it’s brutal reality of horror and heroism.

The Houses of Parliament restoration and renewal programme

There’s been much comment about the restoration project for the Houses of Parliament. Now Parliament has published – through its Restoration and Renewal website – where the restoration is needed, including the various reports of the need for renewal. Click on the image below to link to the website.

houses-of-parliament-restoration-website

Alternative legal opinions on the High Court judgement on Parliament’s Brexit vote

I’ve read the whole High Court judgment on the case of Miller v Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union. You can read it HERE.

The point of law was whether the Government had the power to sign Article 50 of the Treaty of the European Union. The judges said no it had not, and in consequence Parliament must have a vote prior to its signing.

In our constitution Parliament sits above the law – not though the rule of law. Inasmuch that the Government is answerable to Parliament. I suppose you could say that Parliament is superior to Government. Government governs – such a simple concept. Parliament oversees and holds the Government to account – again a simple concept. No need for the Judges to interpret this process – when it’s blindingly obvious what the nation expects the government and parliament to do – and that is to sign Article 50 to leave the EU.

judicial-power-projectIf you’d like to read some learned legal views on the High Court judgement, then you can at the Judicial Power Project. Pleasingly they’ve got five short legal critiques, and other brief legal views of what happens next, and the bigger picture.

Here’s the final part of one of the five views, worth reading all five. This one by Richard Ekins [click to read], who is Associate Professor of Law in the University of Oxford and Head of the Judicial Power Project.

The Government’s intention to trigger art. 50 by way of the royal prerogative, challenged in Miller, is entirely consistent with this rule. It is consistent also with responsible government and parliamentary democracy, for the Government is and always has been accountable to Parliament for its exercise of the prerogative.

Parliamentary sovereignty is rightly fundamental to our constitution. But the Miller judgment was not necessary to protect it and, welcome rhetoric notwithstanding, does nothing to uphold it.

Boundary Commission proposals see Bisley moved to Woking constituency

The Boundary Commission for England proposals, viewable from today, maybe not the hottest topic for the general public, What with more people interested in GBBO’s likely move to Channel 4, the Archers court case result, the weather, and David Cameron’s swift exit from Parliament.

However, the Boundary Commission for England’s proposals will rumble on in political circles for months, and months to come.

Do the proposals affect Surrey. Not a great deal. See what’s proposed at Initial proposals for new Parliamentary constituency boundaries in the South East region. In short, they’re not proposing changes to the number of constituencies, only moving wards in some constituencies to balance the number of electorates per constituency. Here’s what they say about Surrey Heath,

86: In addition to transferring the Byfleet ward, we propose other changes to the existing Woking constituency. We propose including the Bisley ward from the existing Surrey Heath constituency in our Woking constituency. This is the only change we proposed to the existing Surrey Heath constituency. In the eastern part of our Woking constituency, we propose that it include the Borough of Guildford Send ward from the existing Mole Valley constituency.

Here are the tables from the Appendix in the report of ward sizes – first table is Woking, and the second is Surrey Heath.

woking-constituency

surrey-heath-constituency

‘Europe and the Sovereignty of the People’ a talk by Vernon Bogdanor

I liked Professor Vernon Bogdanor’s lecture on The Queen at 90′ so much I’m posting another of his lectures.

This is his lecture on Europe and the Sovereignty of the People’, delivered on 30 June 2016 at Europe House, London, under the auspices of Nuffield College, Oxford, and filmed by the BBC Parliament Channel.

Sadly, I’ve not been able to find it on iPlayer in BBC Parliament Briefings as I had for The Queen at 90. So the transcript, below, will have to do. It’s an entertaining and hugely informative review of how referendums fit into our Parliamentary democracy. For example, Prof Bogdanor says,

The referendum gives us a form of constitutional protection—perhaps the only form of constitutional protection for a country without a written constitution—in which Parliament is sovereign and can do what it likes.

My, there are some capable women in government at present

Rt Hon Anna Soubry MP and meThis week I listened to a lunch time talk given by the Rt Hon Anna Soubry MP, Minister of State for Small Business.

This got me thinking about the number of personable, capable, and intelligent women in government at present, each of whom I’d be happy see given more important roles in government. Here’s my list, Theresa May, obviously, Andrea Leadsom, Priti Patel, Penny Mordaunt, Theresa Villers, Therese Coffey, and of course, Anna Soubry.

Hope you won’t mind. But I did manage to have my piccy taken with Anna.

Parliamentary constituencies to be reduced from 650 to 600 for 2020 general election

Today, the House of Commons Library released a Briefing Paper, Constituency boundary reviews and the number of MPs.

This paper announces the commencement of a review of parliamentary constituencies to be concluded in 2018. The Briefing Paper states that,

The Boundary Commissions launched their reviews on 24 February 2016. They confirmed the electoral quota for the 2018 Review is 74,769. This means constituencies must have an electorate between 71,031 and 78,507.

An earlier House of Commons Library Briefing Paper has the sizes of constituency electorates  the 2010 general election. Looking through the list, one quickly sees that some are in the high 80,000’s, while others are in the mid 40,000’s.

Hence, again from today’s Briefing Paper, an explanation of the reason for the change,

The new rules were intended to create equally sized constituencies, so that one vote counts for approximately the same, no matter in which constituency it was cast.

Lewis Baston, political analyst in The Times, in Bonfire of the Boundaries, has created this table of how changes in share of seats might affect political parties,

Bonfire of the boundaries

UPDATE: The new boundary review gets going in UK Polling Report.