Liberal Democrat MP, John Hemming's, recent High Court challenge to the standard of replies given by Ministers to parliament has failed.

The Member had launched proceedings in response to a series of Parliamentary Questions he considered were not properly responded to by Ministers.  The primary issue in the proceedings was whether the courts can, in principle, force Ministers to answer questions. Mr Hemming argued that while Parliamentary Questions form part of Parliamentary proceedings and are immune from judicial review under the 1688 Bill of Rights, written Ministerial answers to Parliamentary questions are not.

In dismissing Mr Hemming's application, Mr Justice Bennett was of the view that the case was "simply unarguable".   The Judge held that enforcement of the Ministers' Code is a matter for Parliament and was not amenable to judicial review.  In addition, he stated that: "These are matters which arise within Parliament and the courts are, by the Bill of Rights Act 1689, not entitled to question matters that take place in Parliament."

Mr Hemming still believes that the quality of ministerial answers is below par, and is considering appealing the decision.

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