I am writing following the debate and vote on the Standards Committee report on Owen Paterson’s paid lobbying yesterday, where the Government sought to justify voting to overturn Mr Paterson’s suspension from the House by emphasising the importance of a right of appeal.
I strongly disagree that this in any way justifies the Conservative Party changing the rules to let one of its own MPs off for a serious breach of Parliament’s clear ban on paid lobbying, but I do believe that independent appeals are important to prevent injustice and uphold people’s rights.
As you will know, the Government is currently pushing through new legislation – in the Judicial Review and Courts Bill – that would make it harder for refugees to appeal decisions to refuse them asylum in the UK.
Clause 2 of the Bill would abolish ‘Cart’ judicial review, whereby claimants who have been refused permission to appeal by the Upper Tribunal can, in limited circumstances, seek judicial review of that refusal in the High Court.
Cart judicial review is a vital safeguard when tribunals make mistakes in cases where the stakes are often extremely high for the people involved. Abolishing it will lead to more people being wrongly refused asylum and deported. It will restrict their crucial ability to appeal decisions that can literally be matters of life and death.
Given that yesterday you voted with the Government, and its purported belief in the importance of appeal rights, I very much hope that you will join my Liberal Democrat colleagues and I in opposing the Judicial Review and Courts Bill when it comes back before the House for Third Reading.
Will you commit now to voting against the Bill, or does your commitment to appeal rights only extend as far as fellow Conservative MPs?
I look forward to hearing from you.
Member of Parliament for Bath