19. Judges

ie Legal affairs and constitutional affairs.

We need an adequate system of legal aid.

We need enough court capacity to ensure that justice in criminal and civil cases is not long delayed.

Less litigation. As a society we should address the culture of litigation. Firmer rules or firmer application of existing rules governing “no win no fee” lawyer firms may help. Case law making clear that there is such a thing as legitimate risk may help.

Overall, however, a healthier perception of ourselves as enjoying each other, respecting each other and regarding our fellow citizens as honour members of the same team dedicated to a noble calling; all these are likely to have a big influence in help us come to a happier state in our communal relations.

We need to keep the appointment of judges free from political influence. I understand that there were concerns about this at the time of founding of the Supreme Court recently.

Civil Liberties issues. I am not sure where the line should fall about issues such as ID cards, CRB checks, safeguarding lists and on line medical records. I suspect we need them in an atomised society where people don’t know their neighbours as they used to and where we have incomplete control of our borders. BUT will they be error-proof and rogue-proof: presumably not. And if we have these sophisticated systems the onus is on the citizen to ensure we remain an open and democratic society because sleepy citizens can find their apathy let’s them drift into sinister state repression before they realise what is happening; so we need need to be active citizens and make democracy work and show we care about it and defend it.

Constitutional Affairs

Devolution of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. We should be a free but mutually committed team and that works best if we have the same aspirations and are inspired by the same goal. I think we will be a better influence on the world scene with the happy collaboration of the Welsh, the Scots and the people of Northern Ireland each of whom has contributed noble service to our world role in the past perhaps most prominently in the Armed Services. Let’s be a happy and outward looking team together instead of descending into a rancorous energy sapping divorce.

This particularly applies to the Province where I grew up – Northern Ireland. People there or both main sub groups have such a noble track record of caring about humanitarian issues in the world at large that I have hope that embracing a world vision together may be a real help in consolidating a durable peace and a durable team-spirit.

House of Lords reform: At present the Lords can delay Acts going through parliament and encourage the government to think again about issues and details. What would not be healthy – and is a risk of an elected House of Lords – is to have the two Houses of Parliament set against each other. This could paralyse government to our national detriment.

A written Constitution? Some want one and in a sense the EU has obliged us to embrace such a concept but some feel this is foreign to the ancient liberty of the common man. Particularly important seems to be the principle that under continental (Napoleonic) law the state is supreme and allows various freedoms to the common man. Under ancient English law, my understanding is, the common man has freedom except where the Monarch and the people’s representatives in Parliament have seem fit to curtail such freedoms in the common interest.   It seems an important distinction and I prefer the English version!

About all these issues I welcome feedback from all including the experts.