Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Why did Lib Dem MPs back Chris Grayling on judicial review?

Ian Dunt writes about last night's Commons vote on judicial review:
Judicial review sounds boring but it is one of the most democratic legal mechanisms available to the British citizen. It allows us to challenge illegal government decisions, to fight government irrationality and to challenge the decisions made by authorities. In the words of one peer, it is "the British defence of freedom" and the means by which we avoid "elected dictatorship". 
Chris Grayling has lost several judicial review cases this year, for the simple reason that he keeps acting illegally and irrationally. So he has decided to try and eradicate it. That's not what it's called, of course. It’s called 'reform'. But his reform will make it impossible for anyone but the very rich to use it.
Grayling's proposals were mauled in the Lords, with Liberal Democrat peers playing a major role.

Yet last night Lib Dem MPs, with one exception, voted to reverse the Lords' amendments and restore Grayling's original proposals.

Dunt is damning about this:
Apart from Sarah Teather, who has shown herself to be the beating heart of the Liberal Democrat soul this parliament and is consequently leaving it at the earliest opportunity, no other Lib Dem MP rebelled.
No-one else. Of all the Lib Dem MPs who liked to get on their soap box about liberalism, or how they are the only party which still believes in civil liberties, or which opposed the authoritarian tendencies of Labour – no-one apart from Teather had the courage of their convictions.
This seems a bizarre decision by the Liberal Democrat leadership. Does anyone know why it was taken?

And does anyone know to whom Nick Clegg is now trying to appeal?


Nick said...

I think he's going for those people (Sid and Doris Heseltine) who are still disappointed that the National Liberals disappeared from the electoral scene.

Frank Little said...

What makes this worse is that the sole redress for an individual subject to Mrs May's "managed return" is via judicial review and this government is unlikely to make legal aid available for such cases.

Frank Little said...

There is a remark by an English jurist of the last century to the effect that the doors of the English courts are open to all - as are those of the Café Royal. Sadly, I cannot find a citation.

Frank Little said...

Thanks to Nigel Rees ("Brewer's Quotations") I now know that the remark was a variation of a sentiment which goes back ages. "In Tom Paine's Jests there is: 'A gentleman haranguing on the perfection of our law, and that it was equally open to the poor and rich, was answered by another "so is the London Tavern".'