Friday, April 30, 2010

Milliken ruling on the power of Parliament

Hat tip to Christopher Moore on this one.

I have written before on the importance of Parliament. Here for a short example.

One of the central tensions in the Westminster system is the relationship between Parliament and executive government.

Modern executive government wants to govern, just as the English, Scottish and British kings and queens did before them when they were the executive government. However, in doing so, the principle has been established through blood that executive government is accountable first to Parliament and then beyond that to the people through the election process.

In governing, executive government seeks to control Parliament. This includes access to information. Executive government argues that Parliamentary access must be limited for reasons of state and in some cases this is undoubtedly true. Yet a fundamental tension remains.

In a Canadian case, House of Commons Speaker Peter Milliken has ruled that if the Commons insists, the government is obliged to deliver to it the unedited documents on Afghan prisoners that Parliament had requested. You will find a full copy of the ruling here.

In looking at Parliament's power, Mr Milliken looked not just at Canadian precedents, but also at New Zealand, Australian and New South Wales cases.

I think that the ruling is worth a read. It explores the issues in a very clear fashion.

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