Anyone heard of the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill? Me neither until a couple of days ago. While some are calling it the end of democracy as we know it, I’m not ready to hyperventilate just yet. There’s little doubt though that it’s a significant piece of legislation.
In short what it does is give ministers the power to alter existing Acts of Parliament. There are a few restrictions on what can be done, however some of them would be laughable if they weren’t actually in the text (like the minister isn’t allowed to make an order changing the law unless the same said minister is satisfied that the order is necessary!) and some are circumvented by an external body (a change can’t create an offence for which you can be jailed longer than a year unless it’s a recommendation of one of the Law Commissions – which makes it ok).
The reason I’m not hyperventilating yet is that parliament does still have power of veto over any order but, depending on the procedure that the minister chooses to use for the order, it only has a limited time in which to do so after which the order is considered to have been approved. It also can’t force an alteration to the order, it can only accept or reject an order in it’s entirety and hope that the minister decides to accept suggested alterations. This puts a lot of pressure on Parliament’s time and reduces the scope for debate around a proposal, raising the possibility of being able to get a proposal through by flooding.
Acutally, I think the hyperventilation may have just started…