The justice committee of the Scottish Parliament – and its avuncular Captain Mainwaring like host Bill Aitken – has today backed the idea of compulsory training for judges. At the moment many judges do go on training courses arranged through the Judicial Studies Unit.
I don’t think that training is a bad idea but suggest that as a reciprocal arrangement there be compulsory training for MSPs and MPs – to explain how primary and secondary legislation works, to explain certain fundamental principles of our legal system (the distinction between public law and private law, between reserved powers and devolved powers, what mens rea is, &c). Until the MSP passes a test on these basic topics they should not be able to participate in committee Stage 1 reports or vote on legislation.
Perhaps such training would stop some of the stupid questions that end up in the Scottish Parliament Information Centre wasting the time of staff there, subsequently redirected to me and colleagues (formally or informally) and consequently wasting our time too.
Oh, and it might stop MSPs and MPs (obviously not looking at Bill Aitken) making knee jerk responses to each new tabloid newspaper story demanding criminalisation or legislative action when the conduct is either criminal already, or already dealt with by legislation (sometimes passed by the parliament with a vote from the MP or MSP in question).