"close designs, and crooked counsels"
The Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill probably returns to the Commons in mid-May.
The Bill would, if passed as it stands, allow ministers or anyone they choose to make laws without debate in parliament. They could get rid of old laws or enacting new ones - on almost any subject at all. There are some limitations in the Bill, but ministers could use its powers to get rid of them too. No wonder the Bill has been called the "Abolition of Parliament Bill" or even "Blair's Enabling Act". Even if you trust all ministers in the current government and don't mind them passing laws on your behalf without debate, do you trust all future government ministers - from any party?
Fortunately lawyers read the Bill and were so appalled that they made their opinions known. We are now promised amendments, but it is not clear what these will be. One suggestion is a committee of MPs with a majority nominated by the government to check laws passed in this way. This doesn't go nearly far enough.
The Public Administration Committee of the Commons (a group of MPs) now insists that the legislation be watered down. They suggest certain areas of law should be outside the Bill's scope. It's a good starting point, but that's all it is. These MPs also say, according to the BBC's website, that the professed aim of the legislation (to make it easier to repeal redundant legislation) is "widely, even universally, supported". http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/4940668.stm
Really? When did someone last turn to you and say, "I'm so worried about redundant legislation. Those poor MPs - up to their eyes in work - they don't want to be bothered with all that stuff." Oddly enough, I haven't ever heard anyone concerned with that. Most people I know care more about the state of the NHS, education, the environment, pensions and the war in Iraq. But I'm prepared to give it a go. Next time I'm on the train or in the pub, perhaps I'll strike up a conversation with the person next to me, "What do you think of all this redundant legislation, then? How do you think we should go about repealing it?" (Please note, I won't even use a leading question.) I look forward to the response.
Of course, it may be that parliament and MPs are inundated with petitions on the subject. Perhaps I missed the mass of demonstrators chanting: "What do you want? Easy repeal of redundant legislation. When do you want it? Mid-May." And if they're out on the streets, good luck to them - there are easier slogans to chant.
But, barring such huge expression of public support for this Bill, I would suggest it is so seriously flawed and so dangerous in its scope that the best thing for the government to do would be to tear the whole thing up and start again.
I'm not an experienced blogger and I haven't got the hang of posting links. However, you can copy and paste this into your browser to learn more about the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill: