Monday, April 10, 2006

The Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill 2006

Parliament in the UK is now on its Easter recess (unlike the rest of us poor buggers who are lucky to get the bank holidays on Friday and Monday off). This gives us a little time for some quiet reflection on an insidious piece of legislation which, bar a few yelps of protest, is gently cruising through the Commons and will have its third reading on the week commencing 24th April. The Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill allows ministers to amend and change legislation without having to consult Parliament. There are a few meagre limitations on its use and since the powers of the law apply to itself there is little to stop the safeguards being written out in future. It will be, if passed, the final nail in the coffin of true Parliamentary democracy in the UK. The tenets of Magna Carta will cease to have any meaning.

The Bill is being touted as an efficiency measure to save Parliament from the trouble of dealing with fiddling revisions to existing legislation by the Executive. What this fails to acknowledge of course is that is precisely what Parliament exists to do. It is a check upon the Executive (not that you'd have noticed given the supine nature of the majority of M.P.s). The Baron de Montesquieu was not messing about when he defined the separation of powers as a vital aspect in maintaining a democracy and the imperfect implementation of it here merely goes to show that we need to fight tooth and nail to keep what little democracy we have left. Never has the late Lord Hailsham's maxim of "elective dictatorship" been truer than it is today and if this Bill becomes law the dominance of the Executive over every other branch of government will become absolute. Only the Judiciary will stand in the way of total ministerial control of the law. As The Canny Photographer pointed out to me, the parallels with the 1933 Enabling Law in Germany are striking and instructive.

We should heed the lessons of history and prevent this Bill from quietly sneaking onto the statute book. Much hoo-hah is being made in the press about funding for the NHS following the absence of any mention of it in the last budget and rightly so. The Health Service is something I passionately believe in. However a health service, or indeed any other policy or political action or rationale is a trifling matter compared to the fundamental freedoms of the citizens of a democracy. Our rights must be protected from any and all authoritarian control and as the conventions of government such as collective responsibility slip away unnoticed into the night we must be utterly vigilant in safeguarding what little we have left from this rapacious government.

If you live in the UK I urge you to read this and that to which it links and consider writing to your M.P.

Save Parliament


Blogger Mr Atrocity said...

In more recent news it appears that some modification of the Bill will be forthcoming. If there is indeed a major change of heart I will post again. As it stands I still think it's a nasty divisive piece of legislation.

7:53 am  

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