Cameron was right to revise the Ministerial Code

November 9, 2015

“The Prime Minister has been criticised recently, including by Tory MPs such as Dominic Grieve for removing from the Ministerial Code an explicit requirement to uphold and obey international law.

“Writing for the Policy Exchange blog Professor John Finnis, of Oxford University, sets out the flawed thinking behind these criticisms. He writes:

“‘Using a formula introduced in 1997, the 2010 Ministerial Code asserted an “overarching duty of Ministers to comply with the law including international law and treaty obligations”.  This was an assertion at odds with the fundamentals of British constitutional law…

“‘The most fundamental principle of our constitutional law, and so of the Rule of Law in this country, is that Ministers can neither claim any immunity, by virtue simply of their office, from the rules of common law, nor by any decree or order impose a legal duty (or relieve anyone of a legal duty), except to the extent that an Act of Parliament authorizes them to do so.

“‘To say that Ministers can change the legal rights or obligations of anyone in the realm simply by entering into or ratifying an international treaty is to challenge that most fundamental principle of our constitutional law, and thus challenges also the Rule of Law.”

“In short, the previous version of the Code gave the impression that international agreements and treaties were as binding on ministers and British subjects as laws passed by Act of Parliament. Which they’re not.”

See the full article on ConservativeHome’s website

Join our mailing list