What is legal advice?
For every decision made by parliament it must be overlooked by an attorney general who gives guidance on policy.
It is the ministerial code that “…the law officers must be consulted in good time before the government is committed to critical decisions involving legal considerations”
Originally the position of attorney general was to act as the monarch’s representative in court but today the job is for their offices to give legal advice on policy.
Why is it so controversial?
The argument could be made that the legal advice must be kept secret so that the government holds more negotiating power in the talks with the EU. It could be considered the strategy guide of British Government.
Geoffrey Robertson, a human rights lawyer, argued “There is no political ‘convention’ more misguided and less examined than the supposed rule that legal advice to ministers must remain confidential.”
However the former Lord High Chancellor said “There are occasions – and they happen infrequently – where if the state is about to embark on something, I think the public have the right to know the full legal basis upon doing it.”
There is a case to be made that the public would have more faith in the government and its policy if it were more transparent with who it is representing.