Memorandum by Mrs Anne Palmer
1. What are the strengths and weaknesses of
the referendum as a democratic and constitutional tool?
Its strengths are in giving the people a say.
Inclusion. Allowing the people a voice in their future and future
generations. Listening to different points of views. Its weaknesses.
Fraud. I witnessed on T.V. one man collecting counted votes from
the tables, he then removed some votes from the piles in his hand
and put them in his pocket. I have no idea if this was "permitted",
or if he put them back. Fraud in Postal votes. I propose that
in future referendums and general elections, all Ballot Boxes
delivered should be transparent enough to ensure that the box
can be seen to be empty before people come to place their votes
inside when the "polling station" is opened. Voting
completed, top opening sealed securely as well as the lid.
2. What assessment would you make of the UK's
experience of referendums?
UK Governments seem to fear referendums. What
positive or negative features of this experience would you highlight?
Some people no longer believe the reason given for not allowing
a referendum on "Lisbon". It is doubtful many people
trust politicians anymore.
3. How does, and how should, the referendum
relate to the UK's system of parliamentary democracy?
Do we still have a "Parliamentary democracy"?
Had the EU brought in legislation instructing all 27 Countries
to hold a referendum on the Treaty of Lisbon, our Government would
have had to hold a referendum. How could that be Parliamentary
Democracy? In a General Election, the people can "choose"
between three Political Parties that all want the same thing,
"To remain in the European Union". That is not true
"Parliamentary democracy" either. There should, without
doubt, have been a referendum before the ratification on every
European Union Treaty and particularly before the Treaty of Lisbon
4. Is it possible or desirable to define which
issues should be subject to a referendum?
See responses to question three. Plus, as regards
the division of the once United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern
Ireland into twelve EU Regions, I do not see how the people can
possibly vote on any matter unless they are told all the true
facts. The permanent effects it would have on the United Kingdom,
the true costs of building the Scottish Parliament, the running
of it, and how much for the cost re MSPs and their staff, heating
costs etc and if the people are prepared to pay for all those
costs? I quote from the meeting that took place in the Scottish
Parliament on 22 May 2001, when Mr Dammeyer had been speaking
to the Scottish Parliament about devolution, that as far as the
Scottish people are concerned, Scotland is a "Country",
the Scottish people are "nation", but Mr Dammeyer explained
that from the European point of view Scotland is like a Region
of the European Union. Ditto the Welsh Assembly. Likewise the
Northern Ireland Parliament, London and the eight other EU Regional
5. Should "constitutional issues"
be subject to a referendum? If so, how should "Constitutional
issues" be defined?
All constitutional issues should be put before
the people. However, all those that did not allow a referendum
on the very constitutional Treaty of Lisbon unless they decide
to live far from these shores, will also come under the same regime
as the people they once represented.
6. Going to question 8) The strengths and
weaknesses of in-person, postal or electronic forms of voting?
I believe the "in-person" is the only
"safe" way of holding a referendum. The person can verify
that they are the person on the Election/Referendum form. They
may even have ID with them. I no longer trust Postal Votes except
for the "few" genuine ones from people that are sick
or will be away on holiday. Acceptable of course, postal voting
arrangements for our forces. I would not trust electronic voting
at all, because anyone could be using another person's Computer.
Electronic voting is wide open to abuse.
7. (9) How does the referendum relate to other
tools such as citizens' initiatives? Should citizens be able to
trigger retrospective referendums?
There has always been great "play"
on "No Parliament may bind another", anything that one
Parliament or Government may have done, can be altered or undone
by the next. However, does that also apply to International law?
Treaties? According to the Ruling of Lord Denning MR in Macarthys
Ltd v Smith, Yes, even a Treaty can be deliberately repudiated,
for he said:
If the time should come when Parliament deliberately
passes an Act with the intention of repudiating the Treaty or
any provisions in it or intentionally of acting inconsistently
with it and says so in express terms then I should have thought
that it would be the duty of our courts to follow the statute
of Parliament. I do not however envisage any such situation
there is such an intention and express repudiation of the Treaty,
it is our duty to give priority to the Treaty.
Have Governments of this Country gone too far
into the EU though since that ruling? We read only this week that
our Financial Servicesknown as the best in the Worldis
now under threat from a "take-over" by the EU. Lord
Denning understood fully the meaning of the Treaty of Rome, his
ruling therefore stands. Our solemn Oath of Allegiance is to this
Country, if Governments have gone so far that Lord Denning's ruling
could not take effect, has there been a violation of that solemn
Oath and have Government, in accepting that EU Law has "competence"
over our Constitution and laws, destroyed our own Constitution?
That may be a question for the future? Our Constitution cannot
be changed like other countries' constitutions, it is however,
being ignored. I should imagine the people could and perhaps should
trigger a retrospective Referendum. Government and all that read
this, know that the people should have been told Lisbon's awful
contents before they had a referendum, instead, the people were
told that there was no need of a referendum.
8. (10) How would you assess the experience
of other countries in relation to the use of the referendum? What
positive or negative aspects of international experience would
I will look firstly at the referendums that
took place on the failed "Treaty Establishing a Constitution
for Europe", in which two large and important countries voted
"NO". The EU noted the people's views for a little while
and then brought fourth eventually the Treaty of Lisbon, which
held most of the same contents of the failed Treaty plus a few
more far reaching Articles. I name but one, new article 188R,
The Solidarity Clause. A new article which introduces a new and
wide-ranging "solidarity clause" which compels the Member
States to act together in the event of a natural disaster or a
terrorist attack, which we have always done-though by asking any
sovereign state first. Outside the Treaty, yet little mentioned,
although signed and accepted by a UK Representative is "the
SOFA Directive" in the Official Journal of the EU, C 321/6 dated
31.12.2003 . An "AGREEMENT" which also re-inforces
Article 17 (2) of the Treaty on European Union. Government
was failing the people in a) not explaining this fully to the
people, and b) by not allowing a referendum on it.
The Constitution of Ireland allows for the people
to have a referendum on any major Treaty. Some countries are able
to alter their Constitutions to accommodate EU Treaties that might
be contrary to it. However, how that will "sit" when
the EU ratifies Treaties for all 27 countries through Art
47 remains to be seen, especially if it is with a country
one of the 27 would never have agreed to under other circumstances.
The UK, with its unique long standing Common Law Constitution
of which the Treaty between the Crown and the people are not so
easily altered without the consent of either party. This consent
has not been sought. It would appear that UK governments have
chosen to ignore them, but the people, as we know now, may not.
New Treaties may not encroach upon the solemn Oaths of our beloved
Queen made at Her Coronation, and we are mindful that "No
foreign Prince, person prelate, state, or potentate hath, or ought
to have any jurisdiction, power superiority, pre-eminence, or
authority, ecclesiastical or spiritual, within this realm".
I have always believed that Magna Carta is best left "sleeping",
that sadly is no longer the case.
14 December 2009