Thursday 30 January 2020

Brexit ~ Signed and sealed

On Wednesday 29 January 2020, Sir Tim Barrow, the United Kingdom's Permanent Representative to the European Union presented to the European Council the Instrument of Ratification for the Withdrawal Agreement. This was the final step by which the UK indicated consent to be bound by the Agreement which is a treaty in international law.

The European Parliament gave its approval to the Withdrawal Agreement - 621 votes in favour, 49 against, 13 abstentions - Brexit deal approved by the European Parliament.

The European Council decided

Wednesday 29 January 2020

Longer time in custody for some prisoners

From 1 April 2020, a two-thirds rule will apply to certain prisoners - Government 22 January 2020 - Serious violent and sexual offenders to spend longer in prison

Orders have been approved by both Houses of Parliament to alter the law about the release of certain prisoners and to require them to serve longer in prison. The Orders are silent about rehabilitation of prisoners and the work to be done with them whilst they are serving their sentences.

Tuesday 28 January 2020

67 Years since Derek Bentley's execution

28 January 1953 - Wandsworth
" ... In our judgment the summing up in this case was such as to deny the appellant that fair trial which is the birthright of every British citizen' - R v Derek William Bentley (deceased) [1998] EWCA Crim 2516 - (Lord Bingham LCJ, Kennedy LJ and Collins J).

67 years ago today, at Wandsworth Prison, 18 year old Derek Bentley was hanged for the murder, on 2 November 1952, of Police Constable Sidney Miles. My post of 26 January 2013 looked at the case and the posthumous appeal (quashing Bentley's conviction).

The morbid website

Friday 24 January 2020

Brexit - the final throes

With just over a week remaining of the UK's EU membership, the Brexit process is entering its final throes. Brexit will have been achieved but little else given that the future (post-2020) relationship of the UK with the EU has yet to be negotiated.

The European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2020 has been enacted. Royal Assent was given on 23 January. The Act gives legal effect to the Withdrawal Agreement within the domestic legal systems of the UK.  The Withdrawal Agreement itself has been signed.

The UK leaves the EU by operation

Wednesday 22 January 2020

EU Withdrawal Bill ~ Legislative consent refused

National Assembly for Wales
The Scotland Act 1998 section 28(7) confirms that the Parliament of the United Kingdom retains power to make laws for Scotland. There is similar provision in the Government of Wales Act 2006 s.107(5) and in the Northern Ireland Act 1998 section 5(6)

An important constitutional question is when will Westminster exercise its power to legislate in relation to areas of devolved powers.

This question has assumed importance

Thursday 16 January 2020

Scotland - a note on Johnson's rejection of Sturgeon's request

Scottish Parliament
Brexit, unwanted by Scotland, is one reason why the Scottish National Party (SNP) is riding high in terms of election results regardless of consideration of their actual track-record in government.  In the 2019 general election, the party obtained 48 of the 59 Scottish seats at Westminster and currently appears to be on course for an outright win in the Scottish Parliamentary election to be held in 2021.

Scotland’s First Minister

Monday 13 January 2020

Northern Ireland January 2020

On Saturday 11 January, the Northern Ireland Assembly met at Stormont, Belfast. Apart from a brief (48 minutes) plenary sitting on 21 October 2019 (Video), the Assembly had not sat since 13 March 2017.

The Assembly was created by the Northern Ireland Act 1998.

Elections were held on 25 June 1998 and the Assembly first sat on 1 July 1998 but existed in "shadow" form until 2 December 1999 when full powers were devolved. Since then the Assembly has operated intermittently and has been suspended on five occasions - (for details see Wikipedia).

The 2017 breakdown

Friday 10 January 2020

Brexit ~ Events week beginning 6 January

The House of Commons returned after the Christmas / New Year recess and dealt with the Committee and Third Stages of the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill - (see previous post).

Attempts to amend the Bill failed - see Parliament 7 January - Brexit Bill enters Committee Stage.  On 9 January, the unamended Bill passed its Third Reading (330 votes to 231) and will next be considered by the House of Lords - see Parliament - Lords debates the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) BillConsideration of  amendments is scheduled to take place on Wednesday 22 January. Royal Assent will follow and the way will then be clear for the UK government to ratify the Withdrawal Agreement. The European Parliament is scheduled to deal with ratification on 29 January. Once the Agreement is ratified by both the UK and the EU it will become a treaty binding in international law.

The House of Lords EU Select Committee

Saturday 4 January 2020

Queen's Speech ~ Constitution, Democracy and Rights Commission

It is to be hoped that we are not about to witness the "topping out" ceremony in the construction of the elective dictatorship .....

The Queen's Speech included creation of a "Constitution, Democracy and Rights Commission" (CDRC). Work will also be taken forward to repeal the Fixed-term Parliaments Act.  The Speech may be read via the No 10 Downing Street website and is accompanied by Briefing Notes (151 pages pdf). Both proposals were included in the Conservative Party's general election manifesto (previous post).  Unlike the proposal

Thursday 2 January 2020

2020 - Criminal Justice - a Royal Commission?

The first nation to mark the New Year was the Republic of Kiribati located in the Pacific Ocean. The last place, also in the Pacific Ocean, was American Samoa.  The International Date Line divides the two places. 2020 will be the year of transition from full UK membership of the EU to whatever new arrangements are put in place for 2021 onwards.  Parliament will be a busy place as the government's programme, set out in the Queen's Speech, is rolled out.

The Speech may be read via the No 10 Downing Street website and is accompanied by Briefing Notes (151 pages pdf). This post looks briefly at the immediate task facing Parliament in January and then considers the proposal in the Queen's Speech to set up a Royal Commission related to criminal justice.

Parliament resumes sitting