Law Lords move to Supreme Court
“We do not want to lose you, but we think you ought to go.”
– Lord Wallace of Saltaire
The highest appeal court in the land has, for 133 years, been the Appellate Committee of the House of Lords. This is coming to a close, with the Law Lords no longer staying in the House and instead moving to Middlesex Guildhall as Justices of the Supreme Court.
I’ve watched a lot of the lords reform with some disapproval (I don’t think we need an elected house of lords, I think either we need an unelected, or at least differently constituted, body to stand in the face of public hysteria and take an objective view or we don’t need an very expensive upper house at all) and I’ve not really understood what difference a supreme court would make to our jurisprudence. I think this is a gap in my knowledge I should quickly rectify if I do manage to end up on the bar, it might be good to know. I believe it helps separation of the judiciary, but given how the law lords generally kept themselves out of legislative roles I don’t know if anything has actually changed.
It is oddly reassuring to know that the first apparent mention of a Supreme Court came, not from Tony Blair, but from an 1869 Royal Commission. This is not because the Royal Commission is infallible, it’s just that New Labour has been wrong before.
The 10 “going away” speeches from the 21 June can be found here: http://www.theyworkforyou.com/lords/?id=2009-07-21a.1507.0
Baroness Royall’s speech is a particularly enjoyable read, I point out the anecdote about the Duke of Buccleuch which any Scot would appreciate, while Lord Strathclyde’s is a much needed caution. The whole debate is worth having a look at, with much of the continuum of opinions on constitutional reform quite succinctly included. Not to mention a good bit of political point scoring, some of it from centuries ago.
This also raises a slightly uncomfortable point – were the Law Lords moved out to make space for Alan Sugar?