Thursday, March 27, 2008

Abolition of Parliament Act returns

Anyone remeber the End of Parliament Act that the Government tried to get through a few years ago under the loosely titled "Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill"? It had a clause in it allowing minister to change the law at will and it was, quite rightly defeated by the Save Parliament campaign. Well read this on Spy Blog, because it's back in the "Draft Constitutional Renewal Bill".
Part 6

43 Power to make consequential provision

(1) A Minister of the Crown, or two or more Ministers of the Crown acting jointly, may by order make such provision as the Minister or Ministers consider appropriate in consequence of this Act.

(2) An order under subsection (1) may --

(a) amend, repeal or revoke any provision made by or an Act;
(b) include transitional or saving provision.

(3) An order under subsection (1) is to be made by statutory instrument.

(4) A statutory instrument containing an order under subsection (1) which amends or repeals a provision of an Act may not be made unless a draft of the instrument has been laid before and approved by a resolution of each House of Parliament.

(5) A statutory instrument containing an order under subsection (1) which does not amend or repeal a provision of an Act is subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament.
Thanks to Guido for pointing this one out to me, and good work by Spy Blog for detailing it. This is something that must not be allowed to become law. This is meant to be a Parliamentary democracy, not a Government by ministerial order.


Old BE said...

Jack Straw is presenting this Bill as **increasing** Parliamentary scrutiny - black **is** white in New Britain.

RobW said...

Clearly our MPs don't think that...

Anonymous said...

I expect MPs will think of the work this would save them - not having to read tiresome stuff then vote on same. No need to go to Parliament at all, in fact.

kinglear said...

guys guys calm down - the EU runs Britain, and this "enabling act" is merely posturing. Anything the EU has enacted CANT be reversed by the various Governments

Unknown said...

This is nothing like the constitutional outrage you fear, Dizzy: it's quite a common sort of provision. See my post about it.

dizzy said...

I like the use of the phrase "makes similar provision" on your blog. "Similar" being the important words because they're not really the same at all. The wordas may sounds and look similar, but the examples refer to quite explicitly to themselves from what I can tell, whilst the Draft Bill appears to be referring to any Act.

Unknown said...

No, they do refer to other Acts, Dizzy, honest: see, for instance clause 159(3) of the Health and Social Care Bill. I've replied to you over at my place with more examples, and there are yet more I've not linked to, in the Education and Skills Bill, and in the Housing and Regeneration Bill. There are quite a few of these clauses in Bills.

I'd agree with you if I though this really was like the Legs and Regs Bill of a couple of years ago - but I don't think it is.

The Sage of Muswell Hill said...

But this isn't a "normal" act, it's an act aimed at dealing with the constitution. Therefore a "consequence" of such an act could affect any other act which has constitutional significance. This would - or certainly could - include lengths of parliaments, habeas corpus, electoral law etc etc. You name it and almost anything pertaining to civil liberties are "consequential" to this act.

Unknown said...

Oh, Umbongo. I like your juice, but you really are going way over the top on this.

You only have to look at the table of contents of the draft Bill to see that no change to Parliamentary terms, to habeas corpus or to election law could sensibly be said to flow as a consequence of it.

Alex said...

This is just lazy drafting. A good Act would list all the consequential amendments. This one just empowers ministers to put forward consequential mendments by order. Ultimately it would be up to the courts to decide whether any orders were in consequence of this Act (because if not the ministers would have exceeded their powers). The courts, particularly at the Court of Appeal and above, are rather more objective than the government so ministers would be unlikely to push their luck on this. It is not satisfactory, but it is the sort of ill-thought legislation that we have come to expect from this government.

The Sage of Muswell Hill said...

head of legal

Point taken but, as alex implies, it is still disturbing that extensive and inexactly defined legislative powers are given to the executive (particularly the current executive) no matter what the subject of the basic legislation is.