Thursday, January 15, 2009

Isn't the British constitution great?

Two short quotations from reports that went up on the Guardian website this afternoon.

On Heathrow:
Hoon insisted that a vote was not needed because the decision was "quasi-judicial". The government's decision was made in the interest of the country and not just Londoners, Hoon told McDonnell. "Heathrow is a national airport," he said.
On plans to exempt MPs' expense claims from freedom of information legislation:
Harriet Harman, the leader of the house, is to use a special parliamentary order that can become law within 24 hours after being debated by MPs and peers next week.
I get the impression that in Britain the government can short cut or dispense with democracy whenever it threatens to become inconvenient.

If MPs have any sense (and I grant you that a big if...) they will vote against this exemption of their expense claims. And Hoon is talking nonsense. Local councillors have a "quasi-judicial" role in planning matters, but they still take votes.


Anonymous said...

Your point is correct - just because a decision is being made in a 'quasi-judicial' capacity it does not mean that a vote cannot be taken.

When the Lords sits in a fully 'judicial' capacity it still votes, as does the Prviy Council.

However this clearly isn't a 'quai-judicial' decision, it is a policy decision.

Which once againshows that Geoff Hoon doesn't know his arse from his elbow.

James Dowden said...

And any fool knows that Heathrow isn't a national airport either. It's in a horrible location, and from most places it's quicker to fly from another airport, even if it means changing in Amsterdam/Paris/Zurich/Dublin/Frankfurt/Dubai.

So cui bono? Long haul airlines would benefit from a midland airport with high-speed rail links north and south. Short haul is better handled by well-located regional airports. The only possible beneficiaries are those with a vested interest in Heathrow: namely BA, BAA, and the City criminals who've been ruining the economy. That New Labour still sees fit to sell Britain out to such people just goes to show the depths of their corruption and their utter unfitness for government.

Hywel said...

As to it being a "quasi-judicial" decision maybe Geoff Hoon should ask his advisors about this recent view in the Court of Appeal:

“There is no escaping the fact that a decision-maker in the planning context is not acting in a judicial or quasi-judical role but in a situation of democratic accountability”
Rix LJ - Persimmon Homes Teeside Ltd v R (Kevin Paul Lewis) [2008] EWCA Civ 746)

Neil's analysis is pretty astute :-)

Anonymous said...

Well, i think Hoon is right. The odd thing about this is why has this had to go to parliament at all ? I would have thought that all was needed was for BAA to put in planning application like everyone else and then got on to the planning inquiry – which will happen in any case… This tends to be the way with all big planning applicatiuons and no-one has ever really protested about that before.