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Constitutional Renewal Bill is safe after all March 31, 2008

Posted by James in Politics.
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There have been recent reports, originating on Spy Blog, but spreading as far as the House of Commons chamber and this very blog that a new Bill has a clause as dangerous as the old Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill.

It’s not true.

The scary-looking provisions in the Constitutional Renewal Bill don’t let ministers make arbitary law, they just let them make “consequential amendments”.

A court is unlikely to accept the use of the power in a surprising way. Despite its short title, the Constitutional Renewal Bill is pretty narrow and pedestrian in character, so any consequential regulations are unlikely to be very exciting.

Provisions like these are relatively common in modern acts of Parliament. Its usual to have a rather more limited set of powers – but legislative drafting becomes ever more lazy and so its no surprise that a simple general provision is present.

Clause 3(6) of the Forced Marriage (Civil Protection) Act 2007 is a recent example. It is more limiting than the clause in the Constitutional Renewal Bill. Clause 90 of the Serious Crime Act 2007 is an example much more like that in the Constitutional Renewal Bill. The blogger Head of Legal gives more examples and details.

We should worry about the general trend of pushing more and more law into regulations and having less and less of it debated in Parliament (or anywhere), but thats a trend that has been long building. The amendments in the Constitutional Renewal Bill are hardly unusual or controversial and certainly not a place to make a stand.

P.S. If you’d like to help make it easier to track Bills and Amendments, so it is more common and normal to have discussions about new legislation, join TheyWorkForYou’s new campaign to Free Our Bills.

Take 2: Draft Governance of Britain – Constitutional Renewal Bill March 27, 2008

Posted by James in Politics.
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Just when you thought it was safe to go back into Westminster…

By the time it passed, the “Legislative and Regulatory Reform Act” was no longer a bill to abolish Parliament, thanks to a load of changes made during the parliamentary process. However, we aren’t safe yet. They are at it again, it seems.

The “Draft Governance of Britain – Constitutional Renewal Bill” has started going through the process, and some of the old abolition of parliament language is back. Part 6 appears to include the old language allowing minsters to “amend, repeal or revoke” any Act, without full debate in Parliament, once again. The “super-affirmative” procedure required to make such changes under the LRRA has disappeared, apparently.

We’ve not had time yet to do a full analysis of the implications of this new bill, but Spy Blog has a pretty good writeup in the meantime.