Reviewing judicial review


Once upon a time in Great Britain, law was made in Parliament. The people’s elected representatives gathered in the House of Commons and voted for or against a particular bill. If the vote was positive, the bill shuffled forwards and backwards between the Commons and Lords a few times, so that amendments could be made and the legislation improved. It was then sent to the monarch to receive the sovereign’s signature. Royal assent marked the end of the process and the bill became law. Absolute and legitimate law. Its removal from the statute book would require another act of Parliament, a change in mind of the people’s representatives.

Not any longer. An emboldened judiciary, its reach lengthened by the incorporation of the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR) into British law and more recent equalities legislation, has gained the power to legislate from the bench. Our governments are increasingly fettered to the rap of the gavel, the sound of judicial review.

That this is a problem to us of a liberal stripe is increasingly obvious. Yesterday’s Mail reported that the Equalities and Human Rights Commission is debating whether to contest the Government’s budget in court, following the IFS’ claim yesterday’s that the budget is ‘regressive’. Never mind that the British public voted overwhelmingly for the parties proposing realistic deficit reduction; it may well be judges whom decide the nation’s budgetary priorities and, thereby, its level of indebtedness.

The written-in left-wing bias of the ECHR and equalities legislation disproportionally threatens with repeal laws that only violate the Left’s perverted definitions of ‘fairness’ and ‘freedom’. Reform-minded governments seeking to limit the state to an effective size are the most exposed, being, as they are, typically indifferent to equalities impact assessments or the placation of human rights lawyers, preferring, rather, to promote their countryman’s welfare.

Thankfully, our nation’s constitution has not been eroded past a point of no return. By repealing in Parliament the Human Rights Act 1998 and the Equality Act 2010, the Government can remove this obstruction to its reforming agenda. It would be foolish not to.