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Gordon Brown's standards quango will end parliamentary sovereignty

Unusually for these pages this is not a report from Parliament but a very important article about Parliament from Peter Oborne in the Daily Mail. Here is the key section:

"Ever since the Glorious Revolution of 1688 (when a Catholic King was toppled in favour of parliamentary democracy), Britain has enjoyed a system of parliamentary sovereignty. This has meant that Parliament has been acknowledged as the ultimate source of power in Britain, and the highest court in the land. But Gordon Brown’s Bill signals the creation of a new and omnipotent body to which Parliament must defer — provisionally called the Parliamentary Standards Authority. Initially, it will be charged with managing the Commons expenses system. It will also have exemplary powers to sack and punish MPs and ministers. In order to operate effectively, it will stand above Parliament. Even Speaker Bercow himself will defer to it.

Although Brown conceded that this was the ‘biggest reform you have ever seen in any period of the history of Parliament’, his judgment is a gross understatement. The reform marks a historic change in the regulation of British democracy — and a giant constitutional step into the unknown. What’s more, it has the frightening potential to cause great damage because it will hand vast powers to a new class of men and women who are not accountable to the electorate. At the heart of this lies a vital question first posed by the Greek philosopher Plato some 2,500 years ago: ‘Who guards the guardians?’"

With MPs held in such low esteem this is a tricky time to defend the idea that they should govern themselves (and The Sun welcomes it) but we voters can get rid of MPs when they fail.  We can't get rid of the quango that Brown is constructing to oversee MPs.

Tim Montgomerie


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