Why wait for the EU to remove democracy?
Posted by aogSunday, 10 October 2004 at 14:32 TrackBack Ping URL

I can only hope that the various reports of a new law in the UK are hysterical, but given the source that seems a forlorn hope. In essence, the bill would allow senior government officials to declare an emergency and then act to alleviate it. What makes a situation an emergency? That’s up to the judgement of the senior government official. How can the official act? In just about anyway the SGO wants. He would have the power, among others, to

  • Confiscate any property, with or without compensation
  • Relocate any number of people anywhere in the UK
  • Overturn any law passed by any Parliament
  • Set up their own courts
  • Disband or prevent assemblies of people

It’s seriously difficult to see how this doesn’t give any SGO the legal right to impose a dictatorship. Yet it’s not some delusion of black helicopter paranoia, but a real law being put up for a vote. It’s a nice setup for some serious civil strife when two different SGOs decide to implement different regulations. We may give UK Prime Minister Tony Blair a lot of credit for things he’s done right, but remember that this legislation is also a creation of his.

Comments — Formatting by Textile
James Hammerton Thursday, 14 October 2004 at 18:03

The situation is even worse than your summary suggests. The SGO is explicitly given the power to amend or repeal ANY Act of Parliament, and the power to exercise “Royal Prerogative”. Under the British system of government this amounts to absolute power…

There are some checks but they can be trivially defeated. E.g. emergency regulations lapse after 30 days, and must be approved by Parliament to last for more than 7 days. But there’s nothing to stop new regulations being issued continually, cutting Parliament out of the loop.

I have some articles going into these matters detail on my blog: http://jameahammerton.blogspot.com/

James Hammerton Thursday, 14 October 2004 at 18:07

Oops, I read your summary too quickly. I just spotted, after posting my comment, that you did cover the power to amend/repeal any legislation whatsoever… Sorry about that.

There is actually one bit of legislation that’s protected from such messing around, but it’s Part 2 of the Civil Contingencies Bill itself and that’s the very same part that grants these powers!

Annoying Old Guy Thursday, 14 October 2004 at 20:56

Yeah. My view is that if this kind of legislation can be discussed seriously without the immediately political deaths of its proponents, the fight is already over.

End of Discussion