Instead, he clung to office, and it was not until Tories took over in that he came into possession of the full powers of his office. He served with distinction until , painstakingly dealing with the chaotic problems of postwar Europe and the Near East. When the Tory prime minister Bonar Law , a dying man, prepared to relinquish office, Curzon had good reason to believe that his efforts would be rewarded by the premiership that he felt he so richly deserved. It was not to be. He hung on to his job as foreign secretary until , when Baldwin replaced him with Austen Chamberlain.
He had been created a marquess in , and more than ever he hoped for a son to inherit his title, but in this too he was to be frustrated. On March 9, , he was operated on for an internal condition, and he died of complications less than two weeks later. With him died his marquessate and his earldom. The viscountcy subsequently passed to his nephew and the barony of Ravensdale to his eldest daughter, Lady Irene Curzon.
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But, however poorly substantiated, critiques of this kind offer encouragement to sections of the media which are out to get the judges. Do you agree with Mr Sumption? All perfectly correct, but not what Sumption had been saying, and not a ground for criticising any of the decisions the journalist had fed him. The Isle of Wight case, for example, required a complicated analysis of the parliamentary legislation and statutory guidance governing the duty of local authorities to provide care for severely disabled adults.
Such cases may well — in fact frequently do — arise from an honest error in a pressured and under-resourced area of administrative law. But one asks what the critics of such decisions want. That local authorities should be able to break the law without redress? That courts whose job it is to apply the law should abdicate? That councillors or officials should be allowed to dispense with the law if they think fit? They would find no reminder that when, at the last minute, the government produced national security as its reason for banning trade unions at GCHQ, its surveillance headquarters, in the courts backed off without demur.
The more purely political in a broad or narrow sense a question is, the more appropriate it will be for political resolution and the less likely it is to be an appropriate matter for judicial decision … Conversely, the greater the legal content of any issue, the greater the potential role of the court, because under our constitution and subject to the sovereign power of Parliament it is the function of the courts and not of political bodies to resolve legal questions.
I did so on the ground that its deviousness was a matter for political debate, not for adjudication. Robert Stevens in his book The English Judges comments that my decision did not endear me to ministers, but I doubt that allowing judicial review to proceed would have been more likely to earn their gratitude. Judges who sit in the Administrative Court could give scores of other examples. Here is one from R Wheeler v. Office of the Prime Minister :. There are, as Mr Sumption submitted, no judicial standards by which the court can answer the question. As the press conference episode illustrates, the effect of the kind of critique advanced in this lecture is not neutral.
It harms the standing of the judiciary and confidence in the law, just as it would do if a judge, naming no names and citing no instances, were to deliver a public lecture on the perils of judicial corruption. Smoke, in the public mind, means fire. Nobody who knows the history of English public law would deny that there have been decisions which smack at least as much of politics as of law: the condemnation of the Poplar councillors in for paying men and women equal wages, for example.
But that is a long way from the charge that modern public law judges, lacking any jurisprudential compass, routinely cross the boundary separating law from politics. There is more in the lecture: a critique of the European Court of Human Rights for trying to make one size fit all — a problem the court itself is well aware of and has been grappling with for decades — and a perfectly tenable argument that the modern growth of public law has been stimulated by a perceived deficit in the democratic process.
But there is a possibility that the central allegation of repeated judicial intrusion into the business of government will be seen as a political incursion into the business of adjudication. One leaves the lecture reflecting that if we had parliamentary confirmation hearings for new judicial appointees something Sumption rightly opposes , this is the kind of manifesto we would get and that politicians would probably applaud.
Indeed, reading between the lines, I detect a conservative — even a Conservative — ideology in tune with aspects of contemporary political thinking. An enjoyable read. One person found this helpful. There was a problem loading the comments at the moment. Showing 0 comments. Sort by: Newest Oldest. Excellent story couldn't put it down well thought out with characters over all 3 books, highly recommend?
Members of the House of Lords
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