Do not be fooled by the so called pop star welcome for Prince William or reports of royal fever the building he has opened is a Supreme Court and it means that where previously New Zealanders’ final right of appeal to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, based in London it is now to the Supreme Court in a much more convenient location New Zealand.

The Privy Council itself is a symbol of the power of the monarch in making legislation, judicial matters and executive matters.

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Where is the data from? the data was released by the Privy Council Office under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (request made through WhatDoTheyKnow.com. The “OrderName” field gives the subject area of each order, this column was the initial data set. The words “Act”, “Measure” etc and all numbers were removed from the initial data set. What is left is considered a reasonable illustration of what the Privy Council make orders about.

The Privy Council has refused to provide me with a list of all the Orders of the Privy Council which are part of UK law. I was not even asking for the Orders themselves I just requested a list.

The Privy Council refused on cost grounds.

It would in theory be possible for me to construct my own list by:

(a) visiting the National Archives
(b) visiting the National Library
(c) pursuing my Freedom of Information request restricted to Orders from 1994 onwards

I will certainly be doing (c).

I think there are three general problems here with the British democratic system that need to be resolved:

(1) law is being made by unaccountable bodies and through the exercise of Royal Prerogative by-passing elected law-makers in the House of Commons

(2) the law is not being published in full and in an accessible form

(3) the Freedom of Information Act contains a cost exemption The limit is £600 for central government and Parliament and £450 for other public authorities. It sometimes feels like public authorities know the cost of everything and the value of nothing. There needs to be a mechanism to challenge the cost exemption where the public interests justifies the cost of disclosure.