I hope readers will shortly be on holiday and enjoying a well earned break. Parliament is in “recess” and although many of us are still regularly in Westminster or working in our constituencies the daily pattern of the Commons is suspended. Government meanwhile never stops!
Recent announcements include: a 21,000 post boost to nursing staff focussing on mental health; the registration of drones; a £245m investment in battery technology; a Cyber Schools Programme; and a 2040 deadline for new cars to be electric.
Shortly the Secretary of State at DCMS will have to decide whether 21st Century Fox may acquire the 60 per cent of Sky it does not already own and if so on what terms. There is an email campaign that (contrary to process) the decision should be announced not when it is decided but only when MPs are back in Westminster. I disagree with this view but for reasons that I suspect would be strongly supported by those who are writing to me! We benefit in so many ways in this country from operating under the Rule of Law. At the deepest level it protects our personal liberties but that is just one of many benefits: our country’s reputation that we will not act in an arbitrary manner but according to law helps attract investment from overseas.
Parliament sets out how a Minister in this situation needs to hear evidence and decide. That decision can then be challenged, if desired, in the courts. This may sound tortuous and those with strong views on a particular issue may believe that Government should be able to over-ride the process or take a “short cut” to the decision most likely to be popular. No matter how attractive this may sound short term, we are in fact all defended because no one, (including the Government), is above the law. If the law is found wanting Parliament should change it – but the principle of the Rule of Law cannot be treated lightly. Ministers and the courts have difficult decisions to make but they must respect the legal framework in which they do so: that is in all our interests.
Photo caption: Visiting Little Barn Owls Nursery and Farm School (between Horsham and Rusper) this week. The UK "Nursery of the Year" for 2016 comes complete with Pig, chickens and rabbits!