Separation of Powers

The integrity of our political institutions is seriously undermined by the fact that the three branches of government – Legislature, Executive and Judiciary – are not properly independent of each other. There are two major aspects to this problem:

  1. the current entanglement between Parliament and the Executive; faq
  2. the fact that the judiciary is only accountable to the public through the other branches of government.

1) The current convention, in which the chief officers of the Executive are also Members of Parliament, seriously compromises the independence of both bodies. On the one hand, it means that ministers are primarily politically motivated and, on the other hand, it means that Parliament is regarded by many as a stepping-stone on the route to executive power. Combined with the powers of patronage that party leaders exercise, through being able to appoint MPs as ministers, this seriously undermines Parliament’s ability to hold the Executive to account.

We would therefore introduce legislation to bar Members of Parliament from executive office. faq

2) The fact that the judiciary is subordinate to the other branches of government and has no direct mandate from the electorate makes it hard for them to be truly independent in judging the actions of the Executive and the legitimacy of Acts of Parliament.

An active mandate from the electorate – i.e. one based on elections – would risk politicising the judiciary (and would increase the burden that elections place on the public). However, the jury system offers a simple way of introducing a passive mandate, without significant cost.

We would introduce juries in cases where the actions of government or the legitimacy of particular laws are being challenged in court, and into hearings where the fitness of members of the judiciary is in question. faq (It would not be the job of the jury to deliver a verdict in theses cases; their role would be to act as witnesses to the exercise of power and confirm the public’s acceptance of it. fourth estate)

As a secondary reform, we would also transfer responsibility for the appointment of the Attorney General, and other law officers of the Crown, to the Lord Chief Justice and the Judicial Appointments Commission.

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