Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Bastard Parliament II: Expenses

I blogged last week on the problem of our Bastard Parliament - the fact that it can act as judge, jury and executioner.

An interesting item in the Telegraph has led me to continue on this theme. The MPs charged with fraud relating to their expenses - Elliot Morley, David Chaytor and Jim Devine - are appealing to the newly-formed UK Supreme Court (used to be the Law Lords in the House of Lords) to decide whether or not the court system has jurisdiction over their activities in Parliament.

That's right. They are having a hearing - a full court hearing at the highest court in the land, to decide whether the law actually applies to them or not. They claim that the assertion in the Bill of Rights that 'proceedings in Parliament ought not to be impeached or questioned in any court or place out of Parliament' means they are effectively outside the law.

This little feature of the Bill of Rights is commonly referred to as Parliamentary privilege, and was included in order to prevent the Monarch from accusing Parliamentarians of treason or sedition if they criticised his (or her) actions. The last Monarch who did that was King Charles I, and it precipitated the Civil War.

It was not included to allow Parliamentarians to diddle the public and get away with it scot-free.

If the Supreme Court rules in the MPs' favour, it will effectively set a legal precedent whereby our elected representatives are exempt from the law. This is, in a modern democracy, absolutely fucking despicable. The only body that would be able to try them is Parliament itself - spot the vested interest, anyone?

 Bastards. Absolute fucking bastards.

They might try another bit of legislation, which might not be familiar to them:

'It is Provided, agreed, and granted, that all Persons, as well of high as of low Estate, shall receive Justice in the King’s Court'.

Or, in other words: no man is above the law, and justice is dispensed in the Court of the King. No Parliament mentioned.

This piece of legislation is the Statute of Marlborough 1267. It was signed by King Henry III, 400 years before the Bill of Rights, and it is still in force. Check the link if you don't believe me.

Our Parliament is an absolute bastard.