The Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill is currently being passed through the British Parliament. Its specific aim is to reduce the amount of legislation and useless regulation that takes up time and money,

However the scope and true nature of the Bill is terrifying. In essence it would grant ministers the power to enact, modify or destroy laws, without going through parliament or allowing for public scrutiny. Ministers would be given the power to create secondary legislature that would override both primary and secondary legislature.

How exactly? Well specifically, the powers are meant to be used to reduce burdens- however the judgement of what constitutes a burden and what constitutes the removal of said burden is left to the minister to decide. There are no regulations to constrict the power the minister has, nor scrutiny by parliament or the public. The minister merely has to state his reasons for the change- Parliament can do bugger all about to stop him if they disagree.

(1) A Minister may not make provision under section 1(1), 2(1) or 3(1) unless he considers that the conditions in subsection (2), where relevant, are satisfied in relation to that provision.

Please note- "unless he considers". Parliament and the general public don't come into the equation. There is a system where controversial bills are passed through Parliament- however the minister decides what constitutes controversial.

What this means of course is that rights and laws, that should arguably be protected can be reversed. Say goodbye to habeas corpus!

To be fair there are a few things the ministers won't be able to do. They can't impose taxes or create new criminal offences with a sentence of more then 2 years. They cannot authorize forced entry. They cannot change the bill or the human rights act. Aside from this however, then can do whatever the hell they feel like. They can change what constistutes a crime with a life sentence for instance.

Although Jim Murphy gives us his assurances that there will be no abuse of power "I give the House clear undertakings, which I shall repeat in Committee, that the orders will not be used to implement highly controversial reforms" it is absolutely meaningless if there are no restrictions within the bill itself.

For those who believe I am exaggerating this is the quoted text from the bill, which has people up in arms:

Power to implement Law Commission recommendations

(1) A Minister of the Crown may by order under this section make any provision which he considers would serve the purpose in subsection (2).

(2) That purpose is the implementation of recommendations of any one or more of the United Kingdom Law Commissions, with or without changes.

(3) In this Part “the United Kingdom Law Commissions” means—

(a)the Law Commission;
(b)the Scottish Law Commission; and
(c)the Northern Ireland Law Commission.

(4) Subject to this Part, the provision that may be made under subsection (1) includes—
(a)provision amending or abolishing any rule of law,
(b)provision codifying rules of law,
(c)provision conferring functions on any person (including functions of legislating or functions relating to the charging of fees),
(d)provision modifying the functions conferred on any person by any enactment,
(e)provision transferring, or providing for the transfer or delegation of, the functions conferred on any person by any enactment,
(f)provision abolishing a body or office established by or under an enactment,
and provision made by amending or repealing any enactment.


Update: The law was passed... but not before being neutered by the House of Lords. In it's current state it does what it's actually meant to... if that's a good thing or not is down to you.


Sources :
http://www.saveparliament.org.uk/
http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld200506/ldbills/109/2006109.htm
http://www.spy.org.uk/spyblog/2006/02/legislative_and_regulatory_ref.html
http://www.thelawyer.com/cgi-bin/item.cgi?id=120866&d=122&h=24&f=46
http://www.cliffordchance.com/expertise/publications/ details.aspx?FilterName=@URL&contentitemid=9639

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