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Opinions

This page includes a few opinions on the Bill from people or organisations in the public eye, written specifically for this site.

Oliver Heald MP, Shadow Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster

The Legislative and Regularly Reform Bill is more than a mouthful. It is a threat to Parliament. Some commentators have viewed it as "The Abolition of Parliament Bill", whilst others see it as the Doomsday Machine for Parliament. There is little doubt in my mind that in its current form the Bill gives Ministers powers to change the law in whatever way they choose.

Jim Murphy has stated that the purpose of the Bill is to speed up deregulation. Given that the British Chambers of Commerce Burdens Barometer estimates that the cost of new regulations introduced on business since 1997 has now topped £50 billion, I would be very supportive of a truly deregulatory bill. However this Bill does not seem to be a deregulatory measure. In fact the Bill gives Ministers the ability to introduce new regulations, regulations that could affect all of our lives. This appears slightly ironic given their so-called "purpose" of the Bill!

It is vital that safeguards are built into this Bill. I have tabled numerous amendments at Report stage, including a sunset clause and an amendment ensuring that the powers within the Bill cannot be used to change human rights law, constitutional law, the most important criminal offences, or the Bill itself. I can only hope that the Government are much more receptive to these amendments than they were at the Committee Stage.

If they are not then the Conservative Party will vote against the Bill.

Oliver Heald MP
Shadow Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster

Caroline Lucas MEP, Green Party Princpal Speaker

This government has systematically undermined the rule of international law – especially in its rush to war in Iraq – and the protection of human rights, here in the UK and abroad, as Amnesty International, amongst others, have observed.

But not content with attacking human rights and civil liberties in the name of the UK's so-called "special relationship" with the American neo-conservative fringes, now Tony Blair has British democracy itself in his sights.

When more than a million marched against the war in Iraq, he ignored their protests and introduced legislation to criminalize dissent in the Westminster neighbourhood. And now, as he increasingly relies on opposition support to beat off "rebels" within his own parliamentary party, he has published proposals to abandon the democratic safeguard of parliamentary scrutiny of national lawmaking and government.

The Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill (more accurately dubbed "The Abolition of Parliament 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. There are few limits on the scope of the Bill's use – so in its current form it could be used to push through divisive and deeply unpopular legislation on, to name but a few, nuclear power, replacing Trident, GM foods and housing expansion.

This isn't the sort of society I want to live in – and I don't believe it is the kind of society the peoples of this country want to live in either.

We Greens believe in real, locally-delivered, democracy, together with respect for human rights, civil liberties and the international rule of law – that's what we're working for at every level to which we're elected, and that's why we're opposing this bill.

Caroline Lucas
Green Party Principal Speaker and MEP for South-East England

More opinion pieces will be coming soon, from across the political spectrum.

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