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Phil Peter: The Abolition of Parliament
Phil Peter of the Save Parliament Campaign writes about Labour's Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill.
The Government are attempting to push through a bill that is threatening not only democracy but also the very purpose of Parliament. It's called the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill and it's starting to cause a big stir thanks to it's wide-ranging implications. The bill will "give the power to create new laws and regulations, without proper detailed scrutiny by Parliament, to a Ministerâ€ (SpyBlog) as well as the ability to amend existing legislation, including the Human Rights Act, Civil Contingencies Act and this new act itself.
It has been said that the bill is in Labour's 2005 manifesto, prompting fears that this bill would have to be allowed through the Lords. However, this simply isn't true. The only part of the manifesto which gets close to this issue is one line; "We will only regulate where necessary and will set exacting targets for reducing the costs of administering regulations.â€
The Government are also pushing this bill through under the guise of deregulation, dressing it up to be their implementation on the Hampton Review. In a press release from May 2005, Gordon Brown announced the "Better Regulation Action Planâ€ which mentioned the introduction to Parliament in "early 2006â€ of the Better Regulation Bill. This bill has become the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill and contains nothing about deregulation.
In fact, the bill not only lacks any mention of deregulation (the core purpose of this bill) but also any safeguards to stop this bill being used by current or future Governments alike to govern by ministerial edict.
Oliver Heald, MP (Conservative, North East Hertfordshire) has tabled key amendments to the bill for debate after Easter and has warned the Government that if appropriate safeguards are not included this bill will not make its way through the Commons. Mr Heald has taken a lead role in opposing this bill and has written on the subject and even called upon voters to take action.
He is not the only one to express concern about the bill. Lord Grocott, the Government's chief whip in the Lords has written to Tony Blair outlining "the inadequacy of the existing safeguards on the face of the Billâ€ and warned that unless major changes are made to the bill, it will not be allowed through.
The view is shared with the Liberal Democrats who are set to fully oppose the bill, as are the Greens. Save Parliament, the campaign set up to oppose this bill now has over 1,400 members who have signed up to express their dissatisfaction with the bill and more are joining from all over the country every day.
If the Government do not make the amendments tabled by Oliver Heald this bill cannot be allowed to go through Parliament. It is simply too wide-ranging and gives both this and future Governments too much power, undermining Parliament and threatening 700 years of democracy in the UK.