Wednesday, May 09, 2007

"an appearance of solidity"

posted by k

We now have a Ministry of Justice and a Minister of Justice. The language alarms me; it's a little too close to Orwell's Ministry of Truth. But then, the Health Ministry deals with sickness and the Minister of Employment is concerned with unemployment (or "job seeking" as it is now known). Perhaps the Ministry of Defence will soon be called the Ministry of Peace. "Ministry of Attack" might be a more honest name.

It's hard to see what the effects of the new ministries will be. The new Home Office, with its concern for telephone taps, immigration and surveillance seems like the U.S. Department for Homeland Security.

The Ministry of Justice remains controversial. I hope that the objectives of the Office for Criminal Justice Reform don't mean quite what they say; increasing "the number of crimes for which an offender is brought to justice to 1.25 million" is ambiguous at least. Presumably they don't really want to increase the number of crimes on the statute book to quite so high a number, nor to ecnourage criminal acts. A ratio between crime and conviction might be a better aim.

Meanwhile the hasty change leaves people uncertain. David Pannick's article in yesterday's Times is measured and thought-provoking. The relationship between parliament and the judiciary requires thought and attention. If justice doesn't protect everyone equally, it has ceased to be justice. And the government's tendency to attack decisions of the courts suggests a disregard for both justice and parliamentary process. After all, the government proposes laws which parliament debates, amends and passes or rejects. The courts' role is to uphold the laws that parliament has made.

To attack the courts is to bypass parliament and undermine the law.

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Blogger Shutter said...

The UK Ministry of Defence was of course at one time the Ministry of War. (date unknown but about 1969 ish) Profumo's billet doux to his mistress Christine Keeler were on his official notepaper,which described him as Secretray of State for War, which I am certain added a certain piquancy to their 18 yr old recipient.

5:29 am  
Blogger areopagitica said...

Such honesty about function has gone out of fashion, alas.


8:20 am  

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