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Helen Morgan's witty maiden speech and the Judicial Review and Courts Bill

January 29, 2022 12:56 PM

Helen Morgan portrait

This week Helen Morgan, the new MP for North Shropshire, made her maiden speech(1). It's worth listening to. It has a nice mixture of civility (much needed in our public discourse), wit and powerful defence of the rights of individual people to challenge public bodies. It was made in the report stage of the Judicial Review and Courts Bill. In this bill the Government, contrary to the advice of the Law Society(2) and others, seeks to impede the rights of the citizen to hold public bodies to account. Ironic that the Government should be taking away our rights to defend ourselves when many conservative MPs are queuing up to defend the prime minister.

The Judicial Review and Courts Bill is one of several the Government is pursuing which will reduce the rights of citizens to vote, to protest, to gain asylum or to correct injustice. In the words of Liberty, "The Judicial Review and Courts Bill constitutes just one part of a broader programme of constitutional reform pursued by this Government, with an independent review of the Human Rights Act 1998 currently under way, a review of the Constitutional Reform Act 2005 on the horizon, and a succession of relevant pieces of legislation such as the Elections Bill, the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill and the Nationality and Borders Bill currently in front of Parliament. Each of these pieces should be seen as part of a whole: a concerted attempt to shut down potential routes of accountability and exert the power of the executive over Parliament, the courts and the public."

So busy are they indeed on all these bills that they say they do not have time to introduce a bill to deal with major fraud and dirty foreign money. Most of us would consider that those are areas crying out for action. Obviously the conservative peer, Lord Agnew, felt sufficiently troubled by this oversight as to resign - adding another notable event to this lively week.

(1) Helen Morgan's speech: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vT73tVc2CH8&t=307s

(2) https://www.lawsociety.org.uk/en/topics/human-rights/judicial-review-reform

(3) https://www.libertyhumanrights.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Libertys-briefing-on-the-Judicial-Review-and-Courts-Bill-second-reading-HoC-1.pdf