HC Deb 28 October 2003 vol 412 cc156-7
22. Kevin Brennan (Cardiff, West)

What steps the Secretary of State will take to improve parliamentary scrutiny of the use of the Crown prerogative. [134517]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs (Mr. Christopher Leslie)

As my hon. Friend knows, the Select Committee on Public Administration is currently conducting an inquiry into the exercise of prerogative powers. The Government will respond to any recommendations it makes in the usual way.

Kevin Brennan

I thank my hon. Friend for that answer, but does he agree that what we actually have in this country is not an unwritten constitution, but a constitution written in invisible ink? That includes the power to make war—perhaps my hon. Friend can tell us whether the vote in this Parliament has changed that by precedent. Does he agree that it is time to hold a candle to that paper, so that the citizens of this country, and also this Parliament, can know the rules under which we are governed?

Mr. Leslie

I hope that my hon. Friend will give the Government a chance. We are already undertaking an enormous programme of major constitutional reform: making a proper separation of powers between the Executive, the judiciary and the legislature; creating a supreme court; creating an independent judicial appointments commission; and reforming the House of Lords. I am sure that all matters are possible for review, but at this point in time I would like to see the Select Committee's report.