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Meanwhile, the British government wants to rule by decree

Posted by James Hammerton @ 2:02 am on 11 February, 2006.
Categories democracy and the rule of law.
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The government recently published the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill.

This bill gives Ministers the power to alter any Act of Parliament or subordinate legislation for the purposes of “reforming legislation” or “implementing the recommendations of any one or more of the United Kingdom Law Commissions, with or without change”, via parliamentary order, subject to the following constraints:

  • They cannot impose, increase or decrease taxes.
  • They cannot create new offences carrying more than 2 years in prison as a punishment or increase punishments for existing offences beyond 2 years in prison.
  • They cannot make provision in areas of legislation devolved to the Scottish Parliament or Welsh Assembly.
  • They must have a consultation first with people the Minister specifies.
  • Either of the Houses of Parliament can insist on both Houses having to approve of the order first, but are required to do so within 21 days of the order being placed.

Thus the government wants to be able to alter any primary legislation by parliamentary order, including being able to create new criminal offences carrying upto 2 yrs imprisonment. Note that as things stand the bill itself could be modified this way (e.g. to make it even easier to alter legislation). Note also that at best, there’s a single vote on the order and amendments cannot be tabled (though the Minister can produce a revised order under the “super-affirmative” procedure).

See spy.org.uk for more discussion.

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