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The ‘Abolition of Parliament Bill’

I have not seen anything written here on what is being called the Abolition of Parliament Bill – the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill that was going through Parliament last week (whilst ‘Dave’ Cameron was off on paternity leave).

I have heard it finally finishes off the delegated legislation process (the process by which ministers and civil servants pass regulations with power given them under enabling Acts of Parliament) – a process that A.V. Dicey observed before the First World War and Chief Justice Hewitt was the last major establishment figure to oppose (“The New Despotism” 1929). It has taken a very long time to finish the process, but it seems Mr Blair will complete it.

Of course in a modern big government Welfare State having every regulation examined by Parliament is not possible (one extra reason to oppose a modern big government Welfare State).

Still a Statute that allows ministers to alter any regulation (apart from in the field of tax) without coming back to Parliament, and set up to two years in prison as a punishment for failing to obey their arbitrary regulations – well it does seem to a bit much even for Britain.

Have I just dreamed it all then?

Also nothing on our dear friends the Local Government Standards Board – people have noticed them now they have suspended Red Ken from his position as Mayor of London for a month (for nasty things he said to a Jewish journalist).

However, the Board has been doing this sort of thing (and far worse) for years. For example, if a councillor writes to try and expose the “wind farm” con (it is a con because it does not greatly reduce CO2 production – as the wind turbines do not produce much power and have to be “backed up” by coal and gas fired stations which run all the time as a safeguard) they might not (if the Board feels like it) be allowed to speak (or vote) against “wind farms” in council debates.

Ditto saying that Council ‘Chief Executives’ are paid too much or are useless (‘Chief Executives’ are the highly paid useless trash who have replaced what used to be called Town Clerks) – if a councillor says that he is in big trouble.

There is no automatic right for an elected councillor to oppose government policy (or ‘best practice’) in modern Britain and has not been since Mr Blair set up the Board. If the Board will let you speak and vote fine – but they may choose not to.

I am not a fanatical supporter of democracy, but I thought that many people were supposed to be. I have heard very little about what is going on in Britain – most people seem either to not know or not care

38 comments to The ‘Abolition of Parliament Bill’

  • GCooper

    It is hard not to believe that, some day, people in this country will wake up and realise what has been done to them by this government.

    Whether, by then, it will be too late to take back that which Bliar and his Gramscian cohorts have stolen, remains to be seen.

    Either way, the sheer, screaming sense of frustration of those who are aware of what is going on (as guy herbert has right said, from both Left and Right) is almost unbearable.

    What does one do while a country is being taken over by a totalitarian government and most of the population seems more interested in football or Eastenders?

  • John McVey

    A few years from now, Governer Tarkin will report to his war staff aboard their latest vessel that the Emperor has permanently dissolved Parliament and swept away the last vestiges of the Old Constitutional-Monarchy.

    JJM

  • Verity

    I am going to say something very cruel to GCooper’s cry of frustration: You allowed Alastair Campbell to dominate the entire “robust” British media (that has a yard-wide streak of yellow down its back) and is so “culturally sensitive, it has yet failed to print a single Mohammad cartoon – but none of you spoke up while Campbell was holding his balls and jiggling them at you.

    Not a one.

    Brave French newspapers reproduced them, for god’s sake. Spanish newspapers! German newspapers! But not British.

    So Blair’s totalitarian programmes got through on a triumphant nod as Blair sat on TV couches on cheap, moronic chat shows and told lies in an Estuary accent. (Can you see the President of the United States, George Bush, behaving so sleazily?)

    Me either. But I saw the totalitarian creep (double entrendre intended) and fled.

    Do you think Dave is going to save you?

  • Julian Taylor

    You allowed Alastair Campbell to dominate the entire “robust” British media (that has a yard-wide streak of yellow down its back) and is so “culturally sensitive, it has yet failed to print a single Mohammad cartoon – but none of you spoke up while Campbell was holding his balls and jiggling them at you.

    Okay, so impart upon us some of your wisdom as to HOW GCooper and the rest of us are supposed to deal with a incubating Iosef Stalin? Tear down the gates to Downing Street and swing him and his wife from the lampposts? Do an OAS and arrange for gunfire to sweep his calvalcade en route from his home to his (infrequent) visits to Parliament perhaps? The only safe method is through the electoral process and, as is common in any democratic country, this system can easily be abused by someone like Blair to whom Antonio Gramsci’s philosophy, that you can say and do whatever you like so long as the end result is total communism, holds true.

    Even if we did manage to remove Tony Blair from office his legacy has destroyed what we used to refer to as ‘fair government’, where no matter what political faction was in power we could always rely upon the state bureaucracy to remain impartial. Blair’s most heinous crime has probably been the socialist politicalisation of the British civil service, using the carrots of knighthood and peerage to appeal to the fragile egos of senior civil servants, who really should have known better and, I suspect, are now beginning to see the big nasty stick behind the carrot leaves.

  • guy herbert

    Not quite true that nothing has been written here on it. I did allude to it here and posted on White Rose a week or so ago. There’s also been reference in comments.

    Clifford Chance in their client note suggest there is nothing to prevent it being used to create further, even less- restricted, legislative powers for ministers or officials.

  • guy herbert

    “[A]part from in the field of tax” is not quite accurate, either. Clause 5 says:

    5 Taxation

    (1) Provision under section 2(1) may not impose or increase taxation.

    (2) Subsection (1) does not apply to provision which merely restates legislation.

    Leaving aside that the government is now inclined to impose a charge, fee, or penalty as often as a tax, the only clear thing about this clause is that it doesn’t exempt taxation from “reform”.

    Somebody cleverer than me will be needed to produce a hypothetical mere restatement of legislation that does impose or increase taxation. Or indeed to explain how legislation can be restated without changing its meaning.

  • Stoatman

    Remember also that this Bill applies to itself, so they could immediately change it to apply to absolutely anything.

  • Johnathan

    Verity you chose to live in Mexico or wherever it is you now reside. Fine. I hope the sun is lovely. If you have any constructive suggestions, please do make them. Emigration is not the option for all of us.

  • Paul Marks

    I apologize to Guy Herbert for my error – and also for missing a mention he made of the Abolition of Parliament Bill in a posting of his own (I spotted it last night after I had written my own thing).

    Govenor Tarkin? There is a book reference here to something I can not remember.

    As for G. Cooper and Verity – as nearly always all I can say is that I agree.

    Of course G. Cooper wisely gave up on the so called Conservative party when I was still defending them.

    I apologize to him for my stupidity.

    The mass vote of ordinary members for Mr Cameron (and they knew what he was) finally opened my eyes.

  • Pete_London

    Well we can see what ‘call me Dave’ intends to do about this. I emailed my (Tory) MP when I first heard about this. His reply is below. Now I knew two seconds into reading that that I’d been sent a press statement, probably from Tory HQ. I knew this because it mentioned things I hadn’t mentioned in my email. It’s only half way down that it comes back to address my concerns:

    Thank you for your email concerning the Government’s Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill. I read with interest the points that you made.

    Firstly, let me say that I fully support the aspiration to reduce the amount of regulation, red tape and bureaucracy in this country. Independent studies have shown that the UK’s economic competitiveness has slipped in comparison to other countries, and that one of the key reasons for this is that we have become over-regulated over recent years. The British Chambers of Commerce has estimated the cost of new regulations introduced on business since 1997 is now approaching £40 billion. This is a heavy burden for British business to bear, and I firmly believe that this trend must be reversed.

    I am not convinced, however, that the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill is currently the best way to achieve genuine deregulation in this country. I accept that the Bill could provide genuine benefits for business, but believe that crucial changes must be made to the Bill before it can become law.

    I am particularly concerned at the potential for Parliament to be by-passed by the order-making powers contained in Part 1 of the Bill. These
    powers are extremely constitutionally significant. There is a precedent for governments possessing the power to relieve burdens without full Parliamentary approval, but the Bill extends the powers available to Ministers while relaxing the constraints of Parliamentary scrutiny.

    The Bill does not actually mention deregulation, so it is perfectly possible that the powers could be used to introduce new legislation and regulation, rather than to relieve burdens. It is imperative that the circumstances in which these powers can be used are limited and clearly set out in the Bill.

    I would like to assure you that Oliver Heald MP, the Shadow Constitutional Affairs Secretary, will be working hard to ensure that the proper safeguards are built into the Bill and that Parliament is not sidelined.

    Thank you for taking the time to write to me on this important issue.

    Regards
    xxxxxxxxxxxx MP

    So there you go. Nothing to worry about. Concern over the awesome implications of this Bill can be set aside because some bloke called Oliver Heald is on the case. And note that the Tories only want to see certain, unidentified ‘safeguards’ built into the Bill. They don’t oppose it’s very existence. I’m meeting my MP soon on other business but he’ll be getting this back in his face. I have no doubt the unarguably useless Tories have no problem with the principles because they themselves may be the beneficiaries of absolute power one day. And will the tyrant Blair get his new toy? Of course he will, because no-one gives a damn.

  • I know it won’t be to everyone’s tastes here, but there’s a new online pressure group/site called Liberty Central which aims to bring some non-party pressure to bear on our politicians.

    OK, it’s not going to work over night, but every little helps.

  • We came up with the perfect argument against giving Ministers more power. John Prescott.




  • xj

    Why do I have the feeling that the Tories’ idea of a “safeguard” will be something along the lines of “Herr von Papen (Link)gets to be Vice-Chancellor and he’ll be able to rein in the excesses of the new order?”

    Sorry for the Godwin. But sometimes it’s the only appropriate response.

    I can’t believe anyone seriously thinks that giving ministers the power to create new laws has anything to do with de-regulation. If that was really the intention, why not pass a bill giving ministers the power to repeal inconvenient laws or parts thereof?

  • guy herbert

    Pete_London,

    The sad truth is there is so much legislation that it is very difficult for individual MPs to keep on top of it, and unless they have been minded to take a personal interest in a question, won’t have their own views on everything. This is compounded when a Bill is a technical one coming from nowhere, as this one is. At least you got a response, if rather a cautious one.

    There’s a letter in today’s Times from the shadow solicitor general, Jonathan Djanogly pointing out the that the Company Law Reform Bill (an 885 clause bill) and the Government of Wales Bill (165 clauses) also “curtail the ability of Parliament to fully debate the issues, propose amendments and ultimately circumvent the full legislative process”. Both of these I was unaware of.

    Since no individual can possibly read all the primary legislation, let alone thousands of statutory instruments, with understanding, and almost all parliamentary proceedings are now railroaded timetabled, then government contempt for parliament is already well established. It cannot be the issue. What I suggest is going on is that the government machine can no longer continue to increase the quantity of law it produces without re-engineering the process. Even the forms of debate are just too slow, now that all government departments squirt out whatever legislation suits them expecting it enacted.

  • GCooper

    I fear Pete_London’s experience is going to be pretty common to all of us who have tried to raise this issue (and the numerous others) with our MPs. And that is precisely the problem: both our elected representatives and those who seek to replace them are up to their filthy necks in the same game.

    Two of the comments here call for a direct response. Paul Marks does me far too much credit in suggesting I was wiser than he to have abandoned faith in the Conservatives sooner rather than later. Sadly, my defection was to the UKIP and when one of their recruiters recently called me to ask if I wished to renew my membership, I had to tell him, no. The snivelling inadequacy of Roger Knapman’s performance on a recent BBC TV discussion about the cartoon riots was matched only by the sheer vapidity of most of what Nigel Farage had to say for himself on the recent BBC 1 Question Time.

    As a wise American friend remarked recently, you only realise the limit of a government’s power when one exercises it without restraint. That is what we have now, an unrestrained government composed of self-righteous prigs (Bliar, Hain, Hewitt, Brown, Jowell, Becket, Milliband – just look at them!) who believe as an article of faith that they know what medicine we need and they are damned well going to make sure we take it. That utter lack of any self-doubt, that blind certainty, that staggering arrogance, makes them the most dangerous politicians we have had in this country since the Civil War.

    With regard to Verity’s comments, while I accept that fleeing is, perhaps, the wisest option, even if it is feasible for some, it isn’t for all. Moreover, it isn’t the most principled position – at least until there is a serious danger they are going to take our passports away, which hasn’t happened yet (though it may not be far off, I admit). Personally, I feel it is better to stay and kick up a fuss.

    Which leads me back to where I started. What can one actually do ? Elected politicians are unprincipled scoundrels who deserve flogging (at best), the unelected kind are lethally dangerous – so how, short of bloody rebellion, do we rid ourselves of excessive government and those who wish to govern excessively? Because that is the problem.

    I confess I’m stumped. I don’t know what to do to rid ourselves of these vermin. Does anyone?

  • Ron

    FYI, Peter Hitchens is doing a “Dispatches” programme at 8pm tonight (Monday) on Channel4 about ID cards, civil liberties, etc.

    Perhaps it could be a springboard for raising the public’s attention?

  • “That is what we have now, an unrestrained government composed of self-righteous prigs (Bliar, Hain, Hewitt, Brown, Jowell, Becket, Milliband – just look at them!) who believe as an article of faith that they know what medicine we need and they are damned well going to make sure we take it.”

    Well…

    At you don’t don’t have a Field Marshal Rodham to confront. So, there’s that.

    “I confess I’m stumped. I don’t know what to do to rid ourselves of these vermin. Does anyone?”

    Yes. I do.

    But my experience has taught me that nobody ever wants to think about it.

    Good bloody luck.

  • Verity

    Tony Blair is a monstrous evil spirit. He’s a wicked man. There has to be general acceptance of this fact. People have to recognise evil when it’s twittering away on TV. I don’t know how you get the stupid British public to understand that they are being ruled – not governed – by a dictator like Ceaucescu, Marcos, that Spanish one whose name escapes me … He is your standard cut-out dictator, ravenous for ever-more power and ravenous for money and bizarrely deluded that he is admired and respected. I think the closest is the Ceaucescus, because it’s Blair and his wife – both of them with a monstrously greedy appetite for money and power. And Blair wants admiration, too.

    The Rumanians had an effective idea. Shoot the fuckers. I treasure the day the Ceaucescus stepped out on their balcony, expecting to receive a wave of love and respect from the crowd and instead got a hail of bullets. A lovely memory.

    Of course, they shoot them in S America too, in their exuberant Latin way.

    Given that guns are outlawed in Britain and I doubt whether gangsta rappers have any interest in Tony Blair as any laws he passes don’t affect them anyway, the most efficient option is not an option.

    So, what do you do? The BBC is on the Gramscian train, so they won’t be doing any bitter, cutting satire on Blair ‘n’ Cher. The Telegraph sometimes pops its tousled little head over the parapet for up to five minutes sometimes, but as this audience is already well aware of the dangers of Blair, it’s irrelevant.

    I hate to say it, but you are not going to bring Blair down without the support of the media. So, how long is Murdoch going to tolerate Tony Blair? I think it comes down to that.

    The MPs are hopeless. Dave is too stupid to understand the enormity of the problem – besides which he is too occupied with the sale of chocolate oranges in bookshops to notice that there are larger problems on his doorstep. William Hague will understand, and Davis will understand. But that is a very thin line at the feeding trough. One just hopes Blair does something that is not in Murdoch’s interest and Murdoch brings him down.

    I honestly cannot think of another way. It breaks my heart to see the changes wrought in my country by this monster.

  • “At least you don’t have…” etc.

    (dammit)

  • sj

    There has, in fact, been a few reactions to the LRR Bill among wide awake bloggers. See here here, here, here and your link text or description here.

    Personally, I don’t see this as an issue purely about the power of government. I am prepared to give the executive the benefit of the doubt and accept that the purpose of such historically excessive legislation is to enable continuing administration in extremis. The question is: from whom does the government think such an extreme threat to civil society will come? No attempt whatsoever has been made to justify the Bill in terms of Islamic extremism, probably because all the PR effort is currently is currently doing the opposite, namely selling us the eponymous moderate Moslem.

  • “will be working hard to ensure that the proper safeguards are built into the Bill ”

    oh for gods sake… how about opposing the entire bill ?

  • Verity

    Given that shooting is out of the question, how about stringing the Blairs up from a lamp post without shooting them first? Could be entertaining. People could throw things.

  • stoatman

    The last paragraph on “in the United Kingdom” here is mine:

    Wiki – Enabling Act

  • Julian Taylor

    I would like to assure you that Oliver Heald MP, the Shadow Constitutional Affairs Secretary, will be working hard to ensure that the proper safeguards are built into the Bill and that Parliament is not sidelined.

    In The Outlaw Josey Wales there’s one memorable quote thus,

    Senator: Fletcher, there’s an old saying: To the victors belong the spoils.
    Fletcher: There’s another old saying, Senator: Don’t piss down my back and tell me it’s raining.

  • Pete_London

    What to do indeed, but I’m afraid I’ll have to pass on this one. If I answered honestly Special Branch would be calling for a chat unless Perry could delete it in time.

    stoatman – Thanks for the link. Ain’t it amazing what you sometimes read? Above your paragraph we have:

    In the 1930s, both Sir Stafford Cripps and Clement Attlee advocated an enabling act to allow a future Labour government to pass socialist legislation which would not be amended by normal parliamentary procedures and the House of Lords. According to Cripps, his “Planning and Enabling Act” would not be able to be repealed, and the orders made by the government using the act would not be allowed discussion in Parliament.[1] Cripps also suggested measures against the monarchy, but quickly dropped the idea.[2]

    Sir Stafford Cripps was an Ambassador to Moscow. The words ‘pig’ ‘in’ and ‘shit’ spring to mind.

  • Julian Taylor

    What we need right now is a clear message to the people of this country; this message must be read in every newspaper, seen on every television. I want everyone to remember why they need us

    ~ John Hurt (as Tony Blair?) in V for Vendetta

  • It was Cur Stafford Cripps who ensured Moscow received the designs for the jet engine which so successfully powered the Mig 15s which did so much damage in Korea

  • anonymous coward

    Don’t miss Paul Belien on Soviet/Eurosocialist
    cooperation to bring on this sort of thing.
    http://www.brusselsjournal.com/node/865

  • Verity

    anonymous coward – plse don’t waste our eyesight posting your website addresses. Either do a link or not. No one goes to these addresses so thoughtfully and urgently included by people like yourself. Either learn the drill or go away somewhere.

  • Nick M

    Julian Taylor,
    You tell a lie. Josey Wales doesn’t have one memorable quote, it has loads. Reckon so.

    Verity,
    Nicely said, but you seem to have been getting into an ever worse mood over the last few days. Some people might start to worry.

  • guy herbert

    Back on topic, further distinguished objection to the bill. David Pannick QC, who is not usually thought of as a crusty old Tory, writes in today’s Times Law Section:

    It speaks volumes for the ever-increasing arrogance of this Government that it has introduced the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill and does not even understand the opposition to it.

  • guy herbert

    sj:

    I am prepared to give the executive the benefit of the doubt and accept that the purpose of such historically excessive legislation is to enable continuing administration in extremis.

    See Pannick, above. You seem to be confusing the already enacted Civil Contingencies Act (which includes even more dangerous powers, triggered by a vague conception of emergency) with this new proposal, which is clearly intended and provided to be used as and when ministers see fit with no triggering condition whatsoever.

    The reason we have law and parliament at all is because the executive cannot be trusted, even slightly, with absolute power.

  • Howard R Gray

    Well it really is happening at long last! Law by fiat and so much wasted time is going to be avoided. Great!

    Rational law creationism is just so needed to print us into law abiding acceptance of totalitarianism. The great myth of our society is that you can print your way to civilization, inclusive of fabulous remedies for all our ills, with goodies for all too. Free ice cream on sundays, let alone a stripper to put a chicken in every pot, then later you might be granted a mule and 2.65 acres of land for all able bodied communists etc. etc…. the madness just goes on! Just more bovine fertilizer for our roses.

    I used to riffle through the mess of bills in Lincoln’s Inn library just to see what was on the slate for the next week in the hallowed halls of “print us into legal cretinism”, better known as the gas works on Thames at the Palace of Westminster. Being a dyslexic law student, and later for my sins a barrister, it was just so much eye strain and fun trying to read this c with an r followed by an a and ending with a pee.

    Like so many of us, I never bought into the idea that legislation cures all. A moments thought and you realize that very few can read this stuff let alone understand it. Here in the US, where I now live, no one really understands the tax code or many of the other laws for that matter. Much of legislation is retreading and reforming law that didn’t work the first time round. So speeding up stupidity won’t do much good either.

    The idea that “they” can now print so much more without any editorial redaction by “we the people” through our reps in the gas works, is just pure magic. We can look forward to conflict as a norm as democracy dwindles to somewhere near fat zero.

    Maybe, on a more optimistic note, a little chaos and anarchy is perhaps needed. Making stupid laws faster than the speed of light by pdf could just do the trick. Whatever the “trick” might be.

    Our venerable masters lighting the blue touch paper is a wonder to behold, and all that without the benefit of remember, remember the 5th of November! Come back Guy, where are you when you are needed? Seriously folks, this streamlining of lunacy will lead to some fab agro and a few planks missing in the ship of state.

    Nuff said, it is a monumentally stupid law and yes the executive shouldn’t be trusted.

    So what’s new Lord Acton?

  • jb

    I don’t see why emigration is not an option. Remember the missing million young men in the census? I’m one of those. I left the UK after graduating in 1996 intending to spend a couple of years travelling but I’d never go back now. My sister and her husband left with their three kids last February, my parents are thinking of leaving too.

    Almost everytime I look at the news I see something that makes me more ashamed to be British.

  • Verity

    Nick M – Personal comments about someone one doesn’t know anything about seldom hit their mark.

    jb – I don’t see why emigration isn’t an option either. It’s been an option for humans for thousands of years. Pick up and leave. Admittedly, some people may have family ties – elderly parents that they cannot leave, say – but most people who are discontented and want to emigrate, do so.

  • K

    So far I am not impressed with Cameron. I don’t think he is the Tory leader we need right now for these times.

  • Another example of Labour creating a problem then thinking they have a right to fix it. They create an all-pervading state which clogs the House (e.g. we need a bill to unify sex offender databases…!!!) and so gives the excuse for this ‘answer’.

  • Paul Marks

    One of the problems (and not just for me – for millions of people) is that the Conservative party is my “tribe” (indeed I am more that a Conservative voter – I have been a member since childhood).

    So whenever some other party people say anything nice to me I am apt to forget what the party has become (although, to some extent, it always was dodgy from an anti collectivist point of view).

    For example, I blast away on an policy matter (when asked to do so) and instead of saying “die you evil rightist running dog” I get a polite e.mail from a kindly person at Central Office.

    Why can Mr Cameron not come out and say that his great political hero is Mao (or something like that) in order to make it easy for voters like me to make a clean break with the party?

    Admittedly Edward Heath did hero worship Mao – but he did not tell the public this when he was leader of the Conservative party.

    The thing is Mr Cameron is not a Maoist (or even really a Blarite) he is just a P.R. man – who I am sure loves his wife and children and is kind to his friends.

    There is nothing much wrong with him as a man – he just has no interest in rolling back the state and reclaiming our old liberties.

    “You and the party are no use, therefore I will have nothing to do with the party anymore” sounds very logical, but then one has the matter of friends who I have known most of my life.

    This is how Mr Cameron (and other “Conservative” leaders round the world) get around with it of course.

    It is not so much “the other lot will be worse” (often they will not really be worse) – it is a matter of “if I do not help at election time, Mrs …… [80+, white hair.....] will be very upset.”

    I find myself hopeing that Mr Cameron will be even worse than he is – so that everybody that I know has nothing more to do with the Conservative party and I need not upset anyone.

    “But how do we deal with the threat to liberty?”

    We do not deal with it I suppose.

    Britian will get worse and worse and (hopefully) serve as a terrible warning to the rest of the Western World.