Friday, 20 July 2007

Inept and Secretive

Well, if you're going to be inept it's probably best to be secretive about it, isn't it? It seems that certain people haven't been secretive enough and the Constitutional Affairs Committee has blown their cover, while saying that the role of the Attorney General is "not sustainable" in its present form. The full report is due next Thursday, by which time we should also have seen Baroness Scotland's consultation paper on the future of her office. Until then I can only speculate about whether it will call for a better grade of ineptitude, one that is even more secretive and thus better at cover-ups.

Head of Legal has already commented several times on possible reforms of the post of Attorney General, for instance Brown's constitutional package, Pat it is indeed, Goldsmith's injunction against BBC and David Pannick and Attorney General, so I won't add anything else until the consultation paper and report are published next week.

Update: By way of a brief update free from any attempt at analysis, here are the consultation document and report as promised, as well as few other vaguely relevant links.

Consultation Press Release
A Consultation on the role of the Attorney General
Constitutional Role of the Attorney General
Times article
The creation of the Ministry of Justice
Scrutiny of Constitutional Reform


Richard Elliot said...

Interesting times in consitutional affairs. Does our uncodified constitution work and if it 'aint broke don't fix it? Or do we need to formalise the relationship between the state and the individual.

Conservative blogs are buzzing with talk of growning authoritarism (e.g smoking ban, extended detention without trial etc...). Is this the grumblings of people in opposition or identification of a worrying trend?

Hope you had a good holiday.

The Chief said...

It's a good point, but I don't think the smoking ban and 56 day detention are part of the same trend. I think they're based on two different premises and that's why I'm quite content with one of them and think the other is a simply awful idea. It's not just because I don't smoke as I'm also pretty unlikely to be high on the police's terrorism hit list so I don't see that it would affect me personally. I'm also all for stopping people blowing up bits of London, the issue is one of proportionality when it comes to depriving people of liberty.

Asking smokers not to smoke where other people work is a very minor infringement when offset against 600 deaths a year - I don't know if the figures are correct, but I haven't see anything contrary to that so run with them for now. Locking someone up for two months because they have a beard is, to my mind at least, from a wholly different strand of authoritarianism. Ok, that's flippant, but extended detention is just one facet of a march to informal summary justice, part of which has been the expansion of the various Prevention of Terrorism Acts from the 1970s. It's the kind of all control that every government wants when in power and is easy for every opposition party to decry. The question is always, who would reverse this process?

More pressingly, now that KP has gone as well as Cook and Darryl do we have any chance in this Test?