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The debate begins May 15, 2006

Posted by Julian Todd in Politics.

The home office questions finished at 3:30pm, and the house became empty. It goes down from about 70 to 40.

The program motion amending the motion on 9 february was amendmended by a voice vote in the first 3 minutes of the debate. It extended the debate to 2 days.

So much for those program motions if they can be changed verbally just like that as they go along. Why have them at all?

The govt says: "This is the third time since 1994 that the government has had to push through a measure like this." And then blamed huge changes due to Globalization, and the tearing down of the Berlin Wall.
I don't know the name of the MPs. Someone asked, could we see the shopping list from all the departments of the changes they want to see happen under this Bill? No such list has been seen.

See the comments for continued notes. 


1. goatchurch - May 15, 2006

This is the timetable debate to determine how they will progress through the bill. The minister is running through an outline of what’s going to happen, and explaining some of the Clauses.

We are getting a mostly inciteful set of questions to the minister. I don’t have subtitles. David Heath (the very bearded MP) makes the point that it’s all very well ministers promising that the Bill won’t be used in such and such a way, but why not put it in the act.

He’s being asked to explain how the new clauses will protect against the abolition of Trial By Jury, on the basis that it creates (a) a financial cost, (b) an administritive inconvenience, (c) an obstacle to efficiency. He replied that the protections of necessary freedoms (which I can’t find in the amendment) would block such a measure.

2. goatchurch - May 15, 2006

I’ve found the point he’s referring to: Clause 3(2)(d) as long as the provision “does not remove any necessary protection.” Unfortunately, it’s the minister who will decide if the protection is necessary, not the House during a debate while it is being watched by the citizens.

3. goatchurch - May 15, 2006

The minister is outlining lots of areas of administrative burdens, and talking about how the government must deliver more and greater deregulation to account for the global economy. “It is not a race to the bottom,” he said. (It undoubtedly would make racing to the bottom more easy, though.)

The questions he is being asked are specific, about health and safety, and whether that could be strike it off.

Some questions about taxes.

Ken Clarke asked about whether it could be used to abolish a tax, for example the Climate Change Levy, because it is an administritive burden. (In the future Parliament may establish important taxes and levies entice society to behave in a particular way, and it will be a problem the government can be strike it off without debate.)

You also get the usual Tory and Labour jibes about raising or lowering taxes.

4. goatchurch - May 15, 2006

He’s being probed about the safeguard that was added in the first new clause: “Provision may not be made… in relation to any burden which affects only a Minister of the Crown or government department, unless it affects the Minister or department in the exercise of a regulatory function.”

I don’t understand this fully, but it is related to the risk that a Government Department itself may decide that a service it provides constitutes a burden to itself, and unilaterally strike it off. (Suppose the Transport Department decided that filing end of year accounts was too much of a burden; it could decide that it no longer needed to do it.)

I was unaware of this sneaky application of the original Bill. Someone in Parliament must be wise to these tricks of the trade.

5. goatchurch - May 15, 2006

Could this Bill be used to remove the ban on Fox Hunting, while checking through the provision on pest control?

The Minister makes a good point, that if we had an extreme government this Bill would be the least of our worries, because an extreme government could enact what it wanted with Primary Legislation.

However, a government isn’t a single organism. It can be extreme in some places, while appearing reasonable everywhere else.

6. Watching Them, Watching Us - May 15, 2006

Oliver Heald thanks blogsites !

7. Phil - May 15, 2006

"Oliver Heald thanks blogsites !"

Hurrah! 🙂

8. mr joty - May 15, 2006


This is quite an education for me in how it all works!
I need ‘Parliament foe Dummies’ me thinks! 🙂

9. Watching Them, Watching Us - May 15, 2006

David Heath (Liberal Democrat) asks for a clarification about Clause 34 – what possible need is thee for an extra-terriorial scope for the “fast track” de-regulatory orders ? i.e. the rare bits of UK law which claim worldwide jurisdiction should be dealt with with Primary legislation.

10. Watching Them, Watching Us - May 15, 2006

Mark Fisher (Labour), admits that he, the rest of MPs on both sides, did not spot the “Abolition of Parliament” aspects of the Bill as originally presented.

“Neither the the Press, nor this House, was up in arms , as it should have been”

11. goatchurch - May 15, 2006

Move onto the next posting. I will move on again when we reach a new section of the debate.

This exercise is probably a complete disaster, but stay with me.

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