Garters in a Twist 641

The House of Lords broke no constitutional conventions in referring back Osborne’s vindictive tax credit cuts. The Tories and their media supporters are talking utter garbage on the question. Taking Britain’s appalling “constitution” for what it is, the arcane rules of procedure were not breached.

Ever since David Lloyd George and Herbert Asquith forced, by threat of massive creation of peerages, the 1911 Budget through and with it the start of National Insurance and the demise of the workhouse, there has been a convention that the Lords do not oppose or amend Finance Bills.

But the tax credit cuts were not in a Finance Bill. Osborne instead tried to sneak them through by statutory instrument. This is secondary legislation whereby a Minister signs off laws under powers delegated to him by primary legislation. Secondary legislation gets much less parliamentary time and committee scrutiny. If Osborne had put the tax credit proposals in a Finance Bill, as they certainly should have been – it is Osborne who was breaking parliamentary convention here – rather than sneak them under the table as secondary legislation, the Lords would indeed not have been able to stop them without breaching constitutional convention. Which just goes to show it doesn’t always pay to be a weasel.

Osborne is hoist by his own petard.

Aah, Tories say. But there is another convention that the Lords do not block secondary legislation.

They are making that one up. There is no such constitutional convention and there are plenty of examples of the Lords blocking secondary legislation. There is a huge quantity of secondary legislation, thousands and thousands of laws – ministers continually are signing off legal changes.

But the entire basis of the secondary legislation is that parliament has delegated to ministers, in Acts, powers to sign off uncontroversial matter. This can be, for example, the detail of regulations needed technically to enforce primary legislation, and the occasional updates needed. Only a very low percentage indeed of secondary legislation ever gets queried by the Lords, but that is not because of a constitutional convention. That is because most of it is dull stuff. But when the government abuses its authority and tries to smuggle vital changes through secondary legislation, the Lords not only has the constitutional right to challenge this abuse, it has the constitutional duty to do so.

I wish they would do it more often. For example, when the Labour Party used Westminster secondary legislation to cede 6,000 square miles of Scotland’s sea to England without parliamentary scrutiny.

Finally, there is a constitutional convention that the Lords do not oppose manifesto commitments on which a government has been elected. But the Tories rather carefully did not put tax credit cuts in their manifesto, and indeed in campaigning said they would not do it.

The British constitution is appallingly undemocratic. The fact that an undemocratic chamber has fended off a proposal from an undemocratic executive which gained the votes of only 37% of the voting electors, is not a blow struck for democracy. It is however a temporary victory for human decency in mitigating an attack on the poor.

It is also an achievement for Jeremy Corbyn. Nobody can truly believe that Labour peers would have been organised to do this under Yvette Cooper or Liz Kendall.

UPDATE Wings Over Scotland has a very different take on the Labour Party performance. That the Labour Party was not radical enough to go for the “fatal” option I am afraid I find unsurprising. It remains a deeply conservative institution. But I had not previously encountered the argument that 90% would lose the money from universal credit anyway, and it is stunningly cynical. But on close consideration, I cannot work out what it means. Either there must be some additional cut to universal credit, or that those who lost tax credit could have regained it on universal credit anyway. If anybody could explain that one further, I should be grateful.

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641 thoughts on “Garters in a Twist

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  • Trowbridge H. Ford

    The Metrojet plane lost structural integrity after its transponder was hijacked by DARPA’s anti-piracy system, made the airliner do destructive maneuvers, and fell 6,000 feet in 22 second, causing explosive decompression that was heard on its FDR.

    As a result, there was no bomb residue on any of its remains, especially the luggage and its passengers

    Putin finally got the gist of what happened – it was the result of unsuspected terrorism which could occur again, causing hint to suspend all Russian flights.

    The Anglo-American terrorists who caused it just count on us, their poor subjects, not knowing anything about what they are capable of, and are doing.

  • Mary

    Nothing wrong with your link Dave, its source, its author or the content.

    The article commences with a quote from Hansard.

    Hansard 4 Nov 2015 : Column GC355
    Lord Mendelsohn: We welcome the appointment of the former British ambassador to Israel, Matthew Gould, who will have a key role in cybersecurity inside the Cabinet Office — a very useful and important position.

    Sure enough, the UK Government’s website confirms that Gould is now Director of Cyber Security and Information Assurance at the Cabinet Office. “He and his team are focused on keeping Britain safe from cyber attack, through delivering the UK’s Cyber Security Strategy.”

    They must think we have very short memories. Gould was the first Jew ever to hold the post of Britain’s ambassador to Israel. He describes himself as a “passionate” Zionist and whilst in Tel Aviv was instrumental in setting up the UK-Israel Tech Hub. In the words of MATIMOP (the Israeli Industry Center for R&D), the Hub was established “to promote partnerships in technology and innovation between Israel and the UK, and is the first initiative of its kind for the British Government and for an embassy in Israel. The Hub’s creation followed an agreement between Prime Ministers David Cameron and Benjamin Netanyahu to build a UK-Israel partnership in technology.”

    Three years ago Cameron appointed venture capitalist Saul Klein as the UK Tech Envoy to Israel with the task of promoting the partnership, leading UK tech missions to Israel, bringing Israeli start-ups to Britain, and hosting tech events in both countries.’


  • Trowbridge H. Ford

    Don’t love love Ash Carter, the unelected head of the Pentagon. especially DARPA’s anti-piracy system for taking over airliners which can reduce his problems, attacking Russia for its alleged threats to world peace, and Carter’s stating that he will strive for yet new ways to conduct it when the debris on the Sinai hasn’t even been cleaned up.

    Ash is the most dangerous terrorist on the planet.

  • Trowbridge H. Ford

    Don’t you love SoD Ash Carter engaging in an endless twist by blabbing on and on about those nuclear missile tests over California to warn Russia and China that they will not push the USA around when the sabotage of the Metrojet by his DARPA scientists is still being investigated at Moscow’s expense!

  • Trowbridge H. Ford

    Now the National Transportation Safety Board has asked the Egyptian authorities to help investigate the Metrojet crash, and its invitation has been accepted.

    The NTSB has a terrible record in explaining crashes caused by lasers or hijacked transponders. It hasn’t even mentioned them as possibilities in crashes like Asiana Flight 214, MH370, the Germanwings one, or this one.

    The NTSB is just an associate of the NATO-Anglo-American covert government which helps promote the cover ups of its disasters.

  • Trowbridge H. Ford

    So why wasn’t the Metrojet flight allowed to fly over Israel; as it made its way back from Sharm el Sheik to St Petersburg, being diverted instead over the much more dangerous Sinai when it reached the southern tip of the Negev?

    The obvious answer is that it would nave been highly suspicious if the airliner had suffered catastrophic, decompression right over NATO’s only airbase in the region, the one at Ramon.

    And Ramon’s closest NATO airbase is the one at Germany’s Geilenkirchen, some 2,000 miles away where the Mediterranean Dialogue is being managed.

    One cannot make up this stiff up as it is there for anyone to see if they only look.

  • Trowbridge H. Ford

    Israel is just being too clever in all thus, establishing a hot line with Moscow in Syria about coordinating their flights while NATO is refusing to do so, and staging the largest NATO aerial exercise Blue Flag over Ramon while it was helping sabotage the Metrojet airliner with the ‘false flag’ one.

  • Trowbridge H. Ford

    Now things are really heating up with Israeli PM Netanyahu blackmailing Washington over who, how and why the Metrojet was shot down, and Gordon Duff of Veterans Today getting some of the details apparently from Ash Carter’s military aide Lt. General Ron Lewis who has just been fired.

  • Trowbridge H. Ford

    Now the Pentagon is lying about Lt. General Ron Lewis’s firing- claiming that it’s sexual, like in the Petraeus case -when he talked with Gordon Duff about how PM Netanyahu had gone completely off the rails while he was in Washington, most importantly quoting what Lewis said Bibi claimed that the Metrojet plane was shot down by a missile from an Israeli F-15 while during that NATO exercise Blue Flag, and with the connivance of the USA and Germany.

    Lewis is finished no matter what claims the IG comes up with.

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