The Abolition of Parliament Bill

RISE UP!! ITS YER JACKBOOT ON THE STAIRS...

SchNEWS


YOU'RE HAVING A L.A.R.R-F - Last rites for Parliament under new Bill?

Heard about the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill? Tedium personified by the sound of it. In fact concealed under this yawn inducing title is possibly the biggest goosestep towards a totally authoritarian society the Blair oligarchy has yet dared to take. It's been dubbed the "Abolition of Parliament Act" by radical firebrands The Times.

Since the advent of the (now looking more liberal by the minute) Criminal Justice Act in 1994, SchNEWS has warned about and reported on the constant bombardment of measures clamping down on civil liberties and eroding our previously hard won democratic freedoms. The repressive grip has continued to tighten over the years, with increased surveillance, Anti-Social Behavioural Orders, ID cards, Anti-Terror laws and the Serious and Organised Crime Bill, to name but a few examples. In fact, of the six thousand criminal offences on the books over a thousand were created by Neo-Labour. These laws continue being abused by the powerful to retain control and iron out any irritating resistance to the great corporate sell-out of the last decade. There is one thing, however, that they've all had in common. All such laws have had to be debated in and voted through...by Parliament.

While this bunch of self-interested ideology-swallowing career politicians have done little to oppose the big crackdown, it has at least meant that everything done has remained fairly visible. Pockets of political opposition have emerged, including some surprising outbursts of sanity from the old loons in the House of Lords and the judiciary. Even some parts of the mainstream media have taken to wondering whether we are getting close to a dictatorship, now that the crackdown has hit Middle England. All this has helped to water down some of the more soviet-like sub-sections of the more totalitarian proposals. Ultimately, we are left with a public record of the law changes which, in theory at least, means that those responsible could be held accountable later.

Overall, none of this was too disastrous for Government Inc. Enough Whips could be cracked, arms twisted and cosy media relationships fostered to ensure that most of the Magna Carta-pulping stuff could get through unscathed. But as Neo Labour's electoral stranglehold has weakened of late, Tony Blair and the spin-doctors have become increasingly frustrated by pesky opposition MPs throwing spanners in the works. Even worse, he's had to contend with a number of muscle-flexing interventions by the very last people he has ever listened to - backbench Labour MPs who aren't quite as on message as they might be.

This has culminated with a number of irritating Parliamentary revolts such as over the 90 days lock-em-up-for-no-reason provision in the Terror Bill, which was kicked out by MPs a couple of months ago. There are also the ongoing, repeated attempts by the Lords to remove the 'glorification' of 'Terror' offence in the same bill. How aggravating must this be for our would-be Lord Protector Blair and his bunch of merry PR men? These laws don't affect any important demographics! Damn public scrutiny! Damn reasoned political debate and democratic decision-making! But how to get around all these problems? Never fear, political genius Tony is here with the answer: let's do away with democratically agreed laws and instead have some LARRs - Legislative and Regulatory Reforms...

CRACKDOWNER

Launched with little fanfare, amongst concerns about bureaucratic red-tape and the inefficiency of out-dated procedures, the aniseed pip at the heart of the gob stopping bill is this: why not just bring in a law that allows the government to introduce, amend or replace any legislation it likes. This can be done without all that tiresome business of needing Parliament approval. Ministers will be able to create new criminal offences at whim. All manner of focus group orientated idiocy cooked up Neo-Labour up in its laboratory of ideas will find its way to a street near you. That way, ministers can get on with carving up power to suit themselves and their corporate overlords. MPs can then get on with legitimising the regime, opening supermarkets and holding local surgeries back in their constituencies. Brilliant!The fact that Neo Labour may not be in power for eternity shouldn't matter - well, Neo-Labour - Conservatives, not much difference there... and there are a few restrictions to ease the consciences of the all important moneyed classes. Orders won't be used to introduce new taxes, for instance, but most of the limitations on their use are fuzzy and subjective. One of the "safeguards" in the Bill is that an order can impose a 'burden' only 'proportionate to the benefit expected to be gained'. And the judge of whether it is proportionate will be...well, the minister introducing the law of course. Whose benefit is of course carefully left unanswered.

Cambridge Law Professor, John Spensor, has referred to it as the 'abolition of parliament' Bill. This bill can be used to detain people for a couple of years (troublesome activists or Johnny Foreigner perhaps), introduce house arrest, and give the police greater powers of arrest and interrogation. It could also be used to set up new courts, and in effect re-write the rules on immigration, nationality, divorce, inheritance and the appointment of judges - all without any parliamentary scrutiny.

SchNEWS aren't under illusions that parliament ever acted in our interests but we're not ready to see absolute power handed over lock, stock and barrel to the spiders at the centre of this web.The whole project bears an uncanny resemblance to the Reich's Enabling Act which allowed the Nazis to legally dismantle the constitution of the Weimar Republic. What do they want that is so controversial that they're not even sure if this parliament of placemen and sycophants is going to push it through? This proposition has already begun to cause ripples and it is imperative that it doesn't remain in the shadows but encounters resistance at every turn.

The Bill is online at //www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200506/cmbills/111/06111.1-4.html

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