Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Leg & Reg Reform Bill again

William Heath has also been chewing on the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill.

"You start by thinking "how do we best computerise government". As you get sucked into that question you find yourself asking something like "If government became explicitly rules based, what would those rules be? How do we really want it to work?" By now you're sucked into the underlying intent of what's going on. Here's Neil Rose in this month's Law Gazette on the latest power grab.
The Law Society and City solicitors have joined the chorus of concern over government plans to give Ministers powers to amend primary legislation and the common law. Dubbed the "Abolition of Parliament Bill" by some, the Legislative and Regulatory reform Bill overhauls the 2001 Regulatory Reform Act with the aim of cutting red tape. Clause 1 empowers a Minister to reform legislation and/or implement Law Commission recommendations by Order - in doing the latter the Minister will be able to codify, amend or abolish "any rule of law" . . . Law Society president Kevin Martin said, "It introduces worryingly wide powers that affect all legislation, with inadequate safeguards. In theory, Mionisters could make Orders allowing "any person" to legislate, including creating new crimes carrying up to two years in prison . . . " In a letter to The Times last month, six Cambridge University law professors said the Bill would be a major shift of power, and allow the government to, among other things, curtail or abolish jury trial and allow the Prime Minister to sack judges.
Then you come to the odd realisation that assorted geeks and freaks and the marginalised in society seem to care more and think more clearly about our legal protections against the state than those to whom we've entrusted responsibility for defining those laws. But that the judiciary, other professionals and NGOs seem to agree.

So, once more: how do we best computerise it all?

It's a mixed-up starting point, but that feels like where we are."

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