Friday 9 April 2010


At 5.41pm yesterday evening the 5th and final session of the 54th Parliament of the United Kingdom and 15th of this 59 year reign was prorogued.  The Speech from the Throne is below.  I am pleased that the Bill to protect mortgagors' tenants got through (see earlier post).  Less pleased about the Bill on Constitutional Reform which does not go far enough - especially on treaties (see earlier post).

That's it, dissolution on Monday and the new crew of MPs and old team of Peers will answer their Writs and assemble on 18th May 2010.  We can only hope they are an improvement.  

Royal Commission

5.15 pm
The Lords Commissioners were: Baroness Royall of Blaisdon, Baroness Hayman, Lord Strathclyde, Lord Shutt of Greetland and Baroness D'Souza.
The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Baroness Royall of Blaisdon): My Lords, it not being convenient for Her Majesty personally to be here present this day, she has been pleased to cause a Commission under the Great Seal to be prepared for proroguing this present Parliament.

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When the Commons were present at the Bar, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster continued:
My Lords and Members of the House of Commons, Her Majesty, not thinking fit personally to be present here at this time, has been pleased to cause a Commission to be issued under the Great Seal, and thereby given Her Royal Assent to divers Acts, the Titles whereof are particularly mentioned, and by the said Commission has commanded us to declare and notify Her Royal Assent to the said several Acts, in the presence of you the Lords and Commons assembled for that purpose; and has also assigned to us and other Lords directed full power and authority in Her Majesty's name to prorogue this present Parliament. Which commission you will now hear read.
A Commission for Royal Assent and Prorogation was read, after which the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster continued:
My Lords, in obedience to Her Majesty's Commands, and by virtue of the Commission which has now been read, We do declare and notify to you, the Lords Spiritual and Temporal and Commons in Parliament assembled, that Her Majesty has given Her Royal Assent to the several Acts in the Commission mentioned; and the Clerks are required to pass the same in the usual Form and Words.

Royal Assent

5.32 pm
The following Acts were given Royal Assent:
Appropriation (No. 2) Act,Finance Act,Anti-Slavery Day Act,Equality Act,Northern Ireland Assembly Members Act,Crime and Security Act,Personal Care at Home Act,Mortgage Repossessions (Protection of Tenants etc) Act,Sunbeds (Regulation) Act,Sustainable Communities Act 2007 (Amendment) Act,Debt Relief (Developing Countries) Act,Bribery Act,Digital Economy Act,Constitutional Reform and Governance Act,Children, Schools and Families Act,Energy Act,Financial Services Act,Flood and Water Management Act,Bournemouth Borough Council Act,Manchester City Council Act.

Prorogation: Her Majesty's Speech

5.36 pm
Her Majesty's most gracious Speech was then delivered to both Houses of Parliament by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, in pursuance of Her Majesty's Command, as follows.
My Lords and Members of the House of Commons, my Government's overriding priority has been to restore growth to deliver a fair and prosperous economy for families and businesses, as the British economy 

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recovers from the global economic downturn. Through employment and training programmes, restructuring the financial sector, strengthening the national infrastructure and providing responsible investment, my Government has taken action to support growth and employment.
My Government has also strengthened key public services, ensuring that, increasingly, individual entitlements guarantee good services, and has worked to build trust in democratic institutions.
My Government has sought effective global and European collaboration, including through the European Union, to combat climate change, including at the Copenhagen summit in December last year, and to sustain economic recovery through the G20.
The Duke of Edinburgh and I were pleased to visit Bermuda, and Trinidad and Tobago for our State Visit and to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in the Commonwealth's 60th anniversary year. We were glad to welcome the President of South Africa on his successful visit to this country earlier this year.
The Duke of Edinburgh and I were saddened to learn of the devastation brought on Haiti and Chile by recent earthquakes and hope that relief and reconstruction efforts, which my Government and the British people have supported, can build on the spirit and resilience displayed by their people.
My Government has continued to reform and strengthen regulation of the financial services industry to ensure a stable financial sector that supports the wider economy, with greater protection for savers and taxpayers.
As the economic recovery is established, my Government has taken steps to reduce the budget deficit and ensure that national debt is on a sustainable path. Legislation has been enacted to halve the deficit.
An Act has been passed to enable the wider provision of free personal care to those with the highest needs.
An Act has been passed to protect communities by ensuring that parents take responsibility for their children's antisocial behaviour and by tackling youth gang crime.
An Act has been passed to ensure the communications infrastructure is fit for the digital age, supports future economic growth, delivers competitive communications and enhances public service broadcasting.
Legislation has been enacted to support carbon capture and storage and to help more of the most vulnerable households with their energy bills.
My Government has set out proposals for high-speed rail services between London and Scotland.
Legislation has been enacted to protect communities from flooding and to improve the management of water supplies.
My Government has remained committed to ensuring everyone has a fair chance in life and an Act has been passed to promote equality, narrow the gap between rich and poor and tackle discrimination. The Act also 

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introduces transparency in the workplace to help address the differences in pay between men and women.
An Act has been passed to enshrine in law the commitment by my Government to abolish child poverty by 2020.
Legislation has been enacted to provide agency workers with the right to be treated equally with permanent staff on pay, holidays and other basic conditions after twelve weeks on an assignment.
Legislation has been enacted to take forward constitutional reform.
An Act has been passed to strengthen the law against bribery.
My Government has continued to work closely with the devolved Administrations in the interests of all the people of the United Kingdom. My Government has remained committed to the Northern Ireland political process and has continued to work with Northern Ireland's leaders to ensure the continued stability of the devolved institutions and to complete the process of devolution by transferring policing and justice functions in April this year.
In Scotland, my Government set out plans to further strengthen devolution in its response to the Final Report of the Commission on Scottish Devolution. My Government has continued to devolve more powers to Wales and has remained committed to a referendum on further devolution.
Members of the House of Commons, I thank you for the provision you have made for the work and dignity of the Crown and for the public service.
My Lords and Members of the House of Commons, my Government has worked for security, stability and prosperity in Afghanistan and Pakistan and for peace in the Middle East.
Legislation has been enacted to ban cluster munitions.
My Government has continued to work towards creating the conditions for a world without nuclear weapons, including addressing the challenges from Iran and North Korea.
Draft legislation has been published to make binding my Government's commitment to spend 0.7 per cent of national income on international development from 2013.
My Lords and Members of the House of Commons, I pray that the blessing of Almighty God may rest upon your counsels.
The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Baroness Royall of Blaisdon): My Lords and Members of the House of Commons, by virtue of Her Majesty's Commission which has been now read we do, in Her Majesty's name, and in obedience to Her Majesty's Commands, prorogue this Parliament to the 20th day of April, to be then here holden, and this Parliament is accordingly prorogued to Tuesday, the 20th day of April.
Parliament was prorogued at 5.41 pm.

Thursday 8 April 2010


I see that Sir William Gage, chairing the Baha Mousa Public Inquiry has refused to order disclosure of the AG's opinion on whether or not the ECHR applied to British soldiers in Iraq.  It has been held to be privileged.  The soldiers and officers under suspicion and represented before the Inquiry particularly wanted disclosure to show what legal advice they were applying or trying to apply in Iraq.  The MOD opposed and won.  Sir William has left himself the tricky job of trying to work out what to do when those witnesses wish to defend themselves from criticism by saying they were following the AG's advice but they cannot make reference to it.  

I am often troubled by the absolute application of legal advice privilege to the AG's advice to HMG.  I can see the litigation privilege should always apply but less sure that legal advice privilege should be rigidly applied.  I think that it is time that the legal advice privilege claimed by the AG is brought into line with the test applied under section 42 Freedom of Information Act 2000 under which legally privileged material is exempt from disclosure but by section 2(2) only if  "in all the circumstances of the case, the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information".  It seems to me that that is exactly the same test which should apply to considering whether legal advice privilege should apply to the AG's advice and which should have been applied by Sir William.  After all if the soldiers applied to the Information Commissioner for disclosure he would apply the public interest test - whereas Sir William could not in making his determination.  That seems a bit odd.  For a good example of the public interest test at work in the Iraq context see this decision of the Information Tribunal.

Tuesday 6 April 2010


The Prime Minister has annouced a general election for 6th May 2010.

The following timetable now applies:

Between Now and Prorogation -
Wash Up Period in Parliament

Parliament Prorogued (speech from the Throne by Lords Commissioners on behalf of HM and Royal Assent on Bills which have passed final stages in wash up) - 8th April

Proclamation of Dissolution and New Writs issued for new Parliament - 12th April

Last Day for Publication of Notice of Election - 15th April

Last Day for Candidate Nominations - 20th April

Last Day for applications to vote by proxy - 27th April

Polling Day - 6th May

Thursday 1 April 2010




Wednesday 31 March 2010

President of the Family Division

The Queen has been pleased to approve the appointment of The Right Honourable Sir Nicholas Peter Rathbone Wall as President of the Family Division with effect from 13 April 2010 following the retirement of The Right Honourable Sir Mark Potter on 5 April 2010.

Notes for Editors

Lord Justice Nicholas Peter Rathbone Wall (65) was called to the Bar at Grays Inn in 1969, made a Bencher in 1993 and took Silk in 1988. He was appointed as an Assistant Recorder in1988 and as a Recorder in 1990. He was appointed to the High Court (Family Division) in 1993 and was a Judge of the Employment Appeal Tribunal from 2001 to 2003 and a Judge of the Administrative Court from 2003 to 2004.  Sir Nicholas Wall was appointed to the Court of Appeal in 2004. Lord Justice Wall was knighted in 1993.