Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Read this.
The link is from Michael Froomkin who says:
David Howarth is an old friend, one of the smarter lawyers I know, and definitely one of the smartest politicians around (he's a Reader in Law at Cambridge and Liberal Democrat MP for Cambridge). David is currently the campaign manager for one of the two leading candidates in the Liberal Democrat leadership election.

So please do not dismiss what follows as some weird backbench conspiracy stuff.
Who wants the Abolition of Parliament Bill?:
Last week all eyes were on the House of Commons as it debated identity cards, smoking and terrorism. The media reported both what MPs said and how they voted. For one week at least, the Commons mattered.
All the more peculiar then that the previous Thursday, in an almost deserted chamber, the Government proposed an extraordinary Bill that will drastically reduce parliamentary discussion of future laws, a Bill some constitutional experts are already calling “the Abolition of Parliament Bill”.

A couple of journalists noticed, including Daniel Finkelstein of The Times, and a couple more pricked up their ears last week when I highlighted some biting academic criticism of the Bill on the letters page of this paper. But beyond those rarefied circles, that we are sleepwalking into a new and sinister world of ministerial power seems barely to have registered.

The boring title of the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill hides an astonishing proposal. It gives ministers power to alter any law passed by Parliament. The only limitations are that new crimes cannot be created if the penalty is greater than two years in prison and that it cannot increase taxation. But any other law can be changed, no matter how important. All ministers will have to do is propose an order, wait a few weeks and, voilà, the law is changed.

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