The Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill must die!

Posted by Tim Ireland at March 8, 2006

Category: Tony 'King Blair

This entry was posted on
Wednesday, March 8th, 2006
9:26 am and is filed
under Tony ‘King Blair.

Pardon the ‘copy + paste’, but this is the best round-up of the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill monster that I’ve seen to date. Highlights are mine, further reading is below, and if you have any doubts about how this act will be used abused, then click here.

Simon Carr – Now we can all make laws (if our faces fit)

We mustn’t overstate these things because they’re quite important enough as they are. Suffice it to say that the entire British constitutional settlement is being overturned in Standing Committee A by one of the most junior and inexperienced ministers, the stand-in for the Duchy of Lancaster.

Jim Murphy’s probably a nice young fellow but by no means, in the language of the day, fit for purpose.

The Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill going through its stages is a New Labour masterpiece. It was conceived to “remove burdens” from over-regulated citizens. Towards the end of the drafting process, some brilliant Whitehall Olly reasoned thus: “Why should ministers have fewer rights than ordinary citizens? Don’t ministers deserve to have their burdens relieved too?” No contrary argument could be found. As a result, ministers are now being given powers to amend any laws they like without the burden of parliamentary approval.

In the most perverse of consequences, the Bill to remove regulations has made it infinitely easier for ministers to pass them.

I’ve been along to three of these committee meetings over the past week and am more and more surprised at each outing. Jim Murphy offers long and detailed assurances about how the Act will and won’t be used. When asked to put these assurances into the Bill, he refuses. Ministerial assurances at the despatch box have the legal status of intestinal afflatus so you would be wrong to be reassured.

Jim Murphy buries himself ostentatiously in his brief, frequently refuses to take interventions (“I want to make progress”), and dismisses fundamental arguments against the Bill as “debating points”.

As a result of his approach, ministers will be empowered to amend any and every sort of law from habeas corpus to what they are going to put on your ID card.

“A person” is to get legislative powers. Anyone. If you are in the circle. The minister will be able to offer you the power to make laws. Maybe they’ll be outsourcing to Bangalore. Maybe they’ll let the TUC write employment regulations. Maybe the incoming government will let Rupert Murdoch write the takeover code.

There are safeguards. “Controversial” legislation won’t be eligible for the “abbreviated procedure”. But who decides if it’s controversial? The minister. But there will be public consultation? The minister will assess, interpret and present the responses and doesn’t have to abide by the result anyway. Certain select committees may (that’s not a will) have a power of veto – but select committees are appointed by the whips and they have government majorities.

And for any talk of safeguards, the Bill can be used to amend itself, abolishing anything in it the minister wishes.

Turn your face to the wall, oh you democrats, and say goodnight nicely.

Further reading:
Spy Blog – Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill – arbitrary powers for Ministers by Order, no exempt Acts, no full public consultation no detailed scrutiny by Parliament
Guardian – Reform bill could ‘sweep away parliamentary debate’
The Times – Who wants the Abolition of Parliament Bill?
Observer – How we move ever closer to becoming a totalitarian state
Tim Worstall – BCC and The Abolition of Parliament Bill

Now… find out more and find out what you can do about it.

UPDATE – I have decided to name this little monster LaRRaBee, after the Chief’s able assistant in Get Smart.

UPDATE – Save Parliament! Stop the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill!


  1. The Inside Of My Head says

    Turn your face to the wall, oh you democrats

    Heard the one about the government who want to pass a bill allowing themselves to amend laws without parliamentary approval? Pay close attention to this one; it could mean the end of the British democratic process. And that’s not an exaggeration….

  2. BigDaddyBlog says

    The beginning of the end?

    Tim has reminded me to talk about the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill for those who dont know, is a bill which will give legisalitve powers to individuals and departments within Government bypassing all parlimentary debate and objection from el…

  3. Seamus O'Blimey says
  4. ringverse says
  5. mutterings says

    law to end all laws

    sometimes I start to feel like I’m being a little too hysterical, a bit of a drama queen, worrying about New Labour’s authoritarianism.Can it really be all that bad, is it really so terrible that they want to store all my personal detail…

  6. Spy Blog says

    No constitutional safeguard amendments allowed during the Commons Committee stage of the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill 2006

    Unless privacy or security or constitutional safeguards are explicitly written into an “enabling Bill”, such as the dreadful Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill 2006, they are worthless. Judges and Courts can only make Common Law precedent within th…

  7. Comment is free says

    Money works in mysterious ways

    There's as much chance of having our questions about sleaze answered as there is of expecting journalists to ask them.

  8. Oliver Heald MP says

    As currently drafted, the Bill is a danger to democracy and unless the Government meets our demands, Conservatives will vote against it after Easter. Labour MPs are also becoming worried about the Bill and the TUC have voiced their concerns. There is no better time than now for concerned citizens to write to their Member of Parliament, protesting about this Bill.What the Conservatives are putting forward is that the Bill should only allow for de-regulation ? removing outdated and burdensome regulations ? and should prohibit the fast-track Order-making power from being used for controversial or important changes. Since 1994 we have had a law which allows the Government to use a fast-track Order-making procedure for deregulation – to scrap outdated and burdensome red tape. We do need some technical improvements to improve the existing law. But what the Government has come up with goes way too far.At last, we may be making progress. According to a newspaper report, Government Chief Whip in the House of Lords, Lord Grocott is pressing the Prime Minister for the sort of changes we are demanding. Labour MPs have spoken out in Parliament and in the past week, Minister Jim Murphy has been calling in the Opposition Parties to discuss an Amendment to the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill. The idea seems to be for a veto for Select Committees to stop the fast-track Order-making procedure being used for controversial measures. But this does not go far enough. Select Committees do a valuable job, but they always have the majority from the Government Party.We are trying to make major changes to this Bill, so that we do have an effective tool for de-regulation, but ONLY for de-regulation. If the Government does not meet our demands, the Bill must not pass.Oliver Heald MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs and Shadow Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster

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