Cabinet minister rejects Tory MP's call for Parliament to approve judicial appointments

Posted On: 
1st December 2016

A Cabinet minister has slapped down a Conservative MP’s call for US-style appointment hearings for Supreme Court judges. 

Leader of the House David Lidington in the House of Commons, 01/12/16
BBC iPlayer

Leader of the Commons David Lidington cautioned against “political considerations” entering into the judicial appointments process, after Carlisle MP John Stevenson complained about a “lack of parliamentary accountability”.

Mr Stevenson today asked for a Commons debate about giving MPs a say on the selection of the judges, ahead of the Government’s appeal on the rules for triggering Article 50 to leave the European Union.

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“The Supreme Court will be making a very important decision in the next few days; they are very much part of our constitutional structure now,” the Tory MP said.

“However, there is a lack of parliamentary accountability in their appointment. Would the Leader of the House agree to a debate about the appointment of Supreme Court judges and the approval of such appointments by Parliament?”

Mr Lidington replied: “I hope that we don’t go down the route in this country where political considerations play a part in the appointment of judges.

“And of course our current system does depend on a balance, embodied in numerous conventions over the years rather than written into law, that Parliament, Government, respect each other’s place in our constitutional settlement and I hope very much that that will always continue to be the case.”

The role of the judges has come into focus in recent weeks since the Government announced its appeal.

The original High Court ruling that Parliament did need to give its approval before the process of leaving the EU led to a furious response from some pro-Brexit politicians.

Tory MP David Davies hit out at “unelected judges calling the shots”, while Ukip’s Suzanne Evans was criticised after she called for the judges to be placed under “democratic control”.

The backlash against the High Court judges, which included the Daily Mail branding them “enemies of the people”, led to calls for Justice Secretary Liz Truss to make a more robust defence of the independent judiciary.

Her statement read: “The independence of the judiciary is the foundation upon which our rule of law is built and our judiciary is rightly respected the world over for its independence and impartiality.

“In relation to the case heard in the High Court, the Government has made it clear it will appeal to the Supreme Court. Legal process must be followed.”