Daniel Finkelstein in The Times wrote:
- "In my nightmare, Tony Blair finally decides that he is fed-up with putting Bills before Parliament. He has so much to do and so little time. Don’t you realise how busy he is? He’s had enough of close shaves and of having to cut short trips abroad. He decides to put a Bill to End All Bills before the Commons, one that gives him and his ministers power to introduce and amend any legislation in future without going through all those boring stages in Parliament."
The Bill to End All Bills is the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill, currently on its way to committee.
Questions arising for ORG:
- Will this Law allow Ministers to unilaterally rewrite EU directives at the UK level?
- How will ORG and its affiliates influence the "debate" if it is held in the Minister's office not Parliament?
- Are we prepared to accept the threat of key Directives, such as data retention and IPRED and EUCD, being rewritten by Order?
- Putting aside EU legislation, what other legislation is affected? What UK Acts should/should not be rewritten?
- Does the Bill preserve negative liberty or just positive rights? (just the "freedom to" or the "freedom from" e.g. invasions of privacy as well)
Right Links is a conservative blogging group and is running a campaign on this issue. They have compiled a list of thirteen questions which the Bill poses. Of interest to ORG are (with emphasis added):
- Why does the Bill change the current procedures for the enactment into our law of EU legislation?
- Why does the Bill give the power to create new law, including new criminal offences, to the Law Commissions, which are unelected quangos appointed by Ministers?
- If the Law Commissions are supposed to be staffed by impartial technical experts, why are Ministers taking the power to amend the recommendations of the Law Commissions before they are fast-tracked into legislation?
- Why do protections in the Bill against new laws to permit forcible entry, search, seizure or compelling people to give evidence not apply to reforms recommended by the unelected Law Commissions appointed by Ministers?
- What guarantees are there that the Bill could not be used to bring in ID Cards by the back door?
Clifford Chance, a law firm, have compiled a report detailing the effects of the Bill.
The introduction states:
- The powers in the Bill have been specifically detached from the deregulatory agenda and made wide enough to amend almost any piece of primary legislation, by way of secondary legislation - these are known as Henry VIII powers in honour of that monarch's unilateral extension of the Crown's powers. In fact, the only red tape the Bill would actually remove is the red tape of Parliamentary scrutiny for primary legislation, which Ministers will be able to avoid through the procedures set up by this Bill
and the report concludes:
- It is not clear that this Bill provides the necessary safeguards against possible abuse by the executive. Of particular concern is the creation of secondary legislation that can provide authority for further secondary legislation: this usurps the power of Parliament, and is likely to lead to a confusion of legislation.
Similar Concurrent Bills
Writing in a letter to The Times Jonathon Djanogly, Shadow Solicitor-General asserted that:
- We should note two other Bills placed before the House. They are the Company Law Reform Bill and the Government of Wales Bill.
- All three Bills curtail the ability of Parliament to fully debate the issues, propose amendments and ultimately circumvent the full legislative process.
The particular effects of these Bills were not described. TODO gather analysis.