Petition Require government ministers who break the law to be removed from post
Government ministers and lawmakers have an utmost duty to uphold the rule of law at all times. Accountability before the law for all citizens is important, and therefore government ministers must also be forced to take responsibility when they break the law.
Equality and accountability before the law for all citizens is very important. It enables our society to function better and prevents and punishes abuses of power. If government ministers in particular are able to get away with breaking the law, then that sets a dangerous precedent for future governments and other powerful positions. Everyone should have take responsibility if they break the law, and that includes members of government.
This response was given on 9 July 2021
Ministers are under an overarching duty to comply with the law. It is for the courts to determine whether an act is unlawful and for the appropriate remedy or consequences.
Read the response in full
Government Ministers are under a duty to comply with the law.
Government decisions, and the process by which powers are exercised, can be reviewed by the High Court. In judicial review, the Court will consider the Government’s exercise of public powers by reference to legality, procedural fairness, reasonableness or rationality and compatibility with legal obligations.
Many operational decisions in Government are made by civil servants. Ministers also will often take advice from civil servants. Legally and constitutionally, however, the acts of officials are the acts of the Ministers to whom they are accountable, and the Court will regard ‘the Minister’ as the person who is ultimately responsible for ensuring that a particular decision is made reasonably, fairly and according to law. For this reason, legal challenges are often brought against “the Secretary of State”.
Where the Court finds against the Government, this is about the department having acted in breach of the law. Whilst Ministers act as the embodiment of their department, this is not an indication that individuals have knowingly or intentionally broken the law.
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Petitions Committee requests a revised response from the Government
The Petitions Committee (the group of MPs who oversee the petitions system) have considered the Government’s response to this petition. They felt that the response did not directly address the request of petition and have therefore written back to the Government to ask them to provide a revised response.
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