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Oliver Heald Urges Voters to Take Action March 30, 2006

Posted by bill111 in Politics.
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Oliver Heald MP who has voiced his opposition to the LRRB has commented on a post over at Murky.org calling for voters to write to their MPs and express their opposition.

There is no better time than now for concerned citizens to write to their Member of Parliament, protesting about this Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill. Even Labour MPs are becoming worried about the Bill and the TUC have voiced their concerns. The business organisations are also pressing for changes.

What the Conservatives are putting forward is that the Bill should only allow for de-regulation – removing outdated and burdensome regulations – and should prohibit the fast-track Order-making power from being used for controversial or important changes. Since 1994 we have had a law which allows the Government to use a fast-track Order-making procedure for deregulation – to scrap outdated and burdensome red tape. We do need technical improvements to the existing law. But what the Government has come up with goes way beyond what is needed. The Government say they have “wider ambitions”. We wonder what they are.

At last, we may be making progress. According to a newspaper report, Government Chief Whip in the House of Lords, Lord Grocott is pressing the Prime Minister for the sort of changes we are demanding. Labour MPs have spoken out in Parliament and in the past week, Minister Jim Murphy has been calling in the Opposition Parties to discuss an Amendment to the Bill. The idea seems to be for a veto for Select Committees to stop the fast-track Order-making procedure being used for controversial measures. But this does not go far enough. Select Committees do a valuable job, but they always have the majority from the Government Party.
We are trying to make major changes to this Bill, so that we do have an effective tool for de-regulation, but ONLY for de-regulation. If the Government does not meet our demands, the Bill must not pass. As currently drafted, the Bill is a danger to democracy and unless the Government meets our demands, Conservatives will vote against it after Easter.

Oliver Heald MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs and Shadow Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster

What can I do?

  • You can write to your MP, telling him/her you disapprove of the bill.
  • Tell your friends about the bill and this site.
  • Distribute leaflets around your school/college, place of work or even in your local town.


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Oliver Heald, MP Writes for the Campaign March 24, 2006

Posted by bill111 in Politics.
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I met Minister Jim Murphy MP on 21st March to discuss whether a veto might be given to Select Committees to stop laws being changed by Ministerial Order, if the Bill goes through. He is meeting other parties too and we will have to see what he comes up with. But even if he makes this change, more is needed.

I came to the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill wanting it to be an effective tool to tackle deregulation. There is too much red tape on business, particularly small business, and the British Chambers of Commerce have recently shown that the burden has gone up by £50 billion since 1997. The Government claimed the Bill would cut this.

So, I was genuinely surprised to find that the Bill had nothing in it about deregulation, but instead allowed Ministers to change any law by Order and even to push it through without debate. This cannot be allowed to stand. Business is becoming increasingly wary and calling for safeguards. The public are rightly worried about a Bill, which would allow changes to really important constitutional laws like the length of Parliaments, Habeas Corpus or terrorism legislation without proper debate. Two powerful Commons’ Committees have called for changes to the Bill.

I have tabled key amendments to be debated after Easter and am pushing the Minister to accept them or put up his own amendments. The Bill should be about deregulation and should not allow controversial changes to the law without proper debate.

Lord Grocott the Government Chief Whip in the House of Lords has apparently warned the Prime Minister that if major changes are not made now “we are missing our last opportunity to avoid likely defeat”.

Labour veteran David Winnick MP has warned of Labour fears about the measure. The TUC are also concerned that the power might be used against their interests in the longer term. The Minister says he is listening, but the time has come for action – changes to the Bill to provide proper safeguards. If he does not act decisively the Conservatives will vote against the Bill.

Oliver Heald MP, Shadow Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster

Green Party Attacks “Abolition of Parliament” Bill March 23, 2006

Posted by bill111 in Politics.
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From the Green Party website:

Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill is "despotism"

The Green Party conference today called for immediate action to raise public awareness of the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill, and to publicise Green Party opposition to it.

Proposing an emergency motion, Cllr Matt Sellwood, of Oxford Green Party, said: "The Bill threatens to shatter the very foundations of democracy in this country, allowing government ministers to create law without consulting parliament, thereby replacing a system of checks and balances – over six hundred years in the making – with despotism."

In her keynote speech yesterday, Principal Speaker Caroline Lucas said the Bill "will effectively allow government ministers to amend, repeal or replace any legislation without consulting Parliament, and even to create new offences, with penalties of up to two years in prison, without any democratic scrutiny whatsoever".

Cllr Sellwood added: "Putting the emotional language of the motion aside, this Bill is dangerous to democracy, and it is vital we oppose it, especially since neither the Conservatives nor the Lib Dems are taking a lead on this issue."

One thing to note is that the Lib Dems have made a commitment to oppose the bill.

Thanks to Joe for pointing this out.

Edit: The Guardian has an article by Caroline Lucas of the Green Party (via Murk).

What can I do?

  • You can write to your MP, telling him/her you disapprove of the bill.
  • Tell your friends about the bill and this site.
  • Distribute leaflets around your school/college, place of work or even in your local town.


Save Parliament

Blair Told to Rethink Bill March 23, 2006

Posted by bill111 in Politics.
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Lord Grocott, the government's cheif whip in the Lords has written to Tony Blair criticising the Bill outlining "the inadequacy of the existing safeguards on the face of the Bill." The letter was also sent to Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott and received support from Baroness Amos, the leader of the House of Lords.

Oliver Heald, who is leading opposition to the Bill in the Commons commented "one of the most senior figures in government agrees with the Conservatives that the powers in this Bill need to be reined in. The time has come for the Prime Minister to listen to this advice and change the Bill."

Many thanks to Jax for the heads up.

What can I do?

  • You can write to your MP, telling him/her you disapprove of the bill.
  • Tell your friends about the bill and this site.
  • Distribute leaflets around your school/college, place of work or even in your local town.


Save Parliament

Law in Action on Radio 4 March 22, 2006

Posted by bill111 in Politics.
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Murk has a transcript of a discussion with Professor John Spencer QC (who has spoken out against the bill) about the bill, it's implications and the ammendments that need to be made before this bill will be acceptable.

What can I do?

  • You can write to your MP, telling him/her you disapprove of the bill.
  • Tell your friends about the bill and this site.
  • Distribute leaflets around your school/college, place of work or even in your local town.


Save Parliament

Join the Campaign March 20, 2006

Posted by bill111 in Politics.
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In association with Save Parliament! I very strongly urge you to sign up and join the campaign top stop "The Abolition of Parliament Bill".

Once you sign up, Save Parliament! will keep you updated with what's going on and how to get involved.

What can I do?

  • You can write to your MP, telling him/her you disapprove of the bill.
  • Tell your friends about the bill and this site.
  • Distribute leaflets around your school/college, place of work or even in your local town.


Save Parliament

Seminar at the House of Commons March 15, 2006

Posted by bill111 in Politics.
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There is a seminar tomorrow (Thursday 16th) at the House of Commons, organised by the Hansard Society. The seminar will take place from 12.30pm to 1.30pm. To register you just need to email Hansard. They also have a briefing paper on their site about the seminar.

More info is available from the Hansard Society website.

What can I do?

  • You can write to your MP, telling him/her you disapprove of the bill.
  • Tell your friends about the bill and this site.
  • Distribute leaflets around your school/college, place of work or even in your local town.


Save Parliament

Liberal Democrats set to Oppose the LRRB! March 14, 2006

Posted by bill111 in Politics.
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News from David Howarth's website that "An Emergency Motion to oppose the controversial Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill was passed unanimously by Conference yesterday".

This is a huge step and should deal a big blow to the government. If we can get the conservatives and Labour back-benchers onside too, we can defeat this bill outright!

What can I do?

  • You can write to your MP, telling him/her you disapprove of the bill.
  • Tell your friends about the bill and this site.
  • Distribute leaflets around your school/college, place of work or even in your local town.


Save Parliament

Standing Committee Proceedings March 14, 2006

Posted by bill111 in Politics.
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The 7th and 8th sittings of Standing Committee A saw a depressingly familiar pattern followed in terms of the amendments pushed through. The strongly New Labour Jim Murphy MP added additional text to the European Communities Act 1972 (c. 68) Schedules. This will, assuming the passage of the Bill, state that secondary legislation under the ECA will be subject to the same lax scrutiny by parliament, and will be subject to the same annulment and resolution procedures as the other orders under the LRR Bill.

More notably, the provision suggested by David Heath and David Howarth relating to the protection of judicial appointments and tenure from interference under the LRR Bill was voted down under committee, leaving the judicial system increasingly vulnerable to political interference.

Other amendments that were 'not called' were that provisions:

may not affect, abrogate or modify any of the principles of natural justice

may not affect, abrogate or modify the law relating to the powers or composition of Parliament or the law governing elections

may not affect, abrogate or modify the powers or competences of the house of commons or the House of Lords

may not affect, abrogate or modify the law relating to the Church of England

Clearly, these are important constitutional safeguards around an Act that could potentially infringe on one or all of these areas, should ministers so wish. The principle of Parliamentary sovereignty is at threat, and is being attacked by gradual erosion of competence and increasing centralisation of executive power; these latest amendments at Committee do nothing to assuage those legitimate fears.

What can I do?

  • You can write to your MP, telling him/her you disapprove of the bill.
  • Tell your friends about the bill and this site.
  • Distribute leaflets around your school/college, place of work or even in your local town.


Save Parliament

Email from David Heath, MP March 14, 2006

Posted by bill111 in Politics.
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David Heath has kindly given me permission to post his e-mail to me, sent yesterday evening.

Brilliant site, and thanks for your help. I think people are gradually waking up to this extraordinary bill, but anything that spreads the word is helpful.

As you probably know, we've finished the committee stage now without any change from the government. The only concession to date is to include a veto from a government majority committee that amounts to no protection at all.

I've made it very plain that the bill will not get through the Lords unless the government are prepared to rewrite Part 1, so it's up to them to do some hard thinking before Report stage.

Thanks for your work in support (of parliamentary democracy, not us!).

David Heath

The bill is now due to go through Report stage and it's third reading in the House of Commons, before moving onto the House of Lords. This will come sometime after Easter, at which point I will begin to produce more materials for everyone to send to their MP.

What can I do?

  • You can write to your MP, telling him/her you disapprove of the bill.
  • Tell your friends about the bill and this site.
  • Distribute leaflets around your school/college, place of work or even in your local town.


Save Parliament