The Something Must Be Done Act 2014

Westminster

Lawyer and blogger David Allen Green has had enough of tiresome legislation and meddlesome courts…

Government and parliament waste too much time passing legislation. Last year there were 31 public acts of parliament and nearly 3,000 statutory instruments. Whitehall and Westminster would be better employed doing other things.

And all this statutory output is subject to the tiresome jurisdiction of the courts — the High Court will quash delegated legislation and use “human rights” jurisprudence to interpret the word of parliament out of recognition. Something must be done.

So this Act is a modest proposal for our legislators and public officials. Once it is passed, no other legislation will ever be necessary and the meddlesome courts will be neutered. This would be a Good Thing.

Let’s start with Section 1:

“The Crown shall have the power to do anything, and nothing a Minister of the Crown does will be ultra vires.”

That should shut up the High Court for a while with their judicial review decisions.

But adding a second section to the Act will make sure that Ministers will act in the interests of all of us. So for the avoidance of doubt, Section 2 provides:

“The power given by Section 1 of this Act shall include the banning of things by any Minister of the Crown.”

But what things can be banned? Well, here’s Section 3:

“The things to be banned referred to in Section 2 of this Act shall be the things which a Minister of the Crown says are bad for us.”

Which in turn leads us to Section 4:

“What is bad for us for the purposes of Section 3 shall be determined by a Minister of the Crown with regard either to (a) headlines in the tabloid press of the day and/or (b) the headlines the Minister of the Crown would like to see in the tabloid press tomorrow.”

Section 5 will then provide:

“Any person (a) voicing opposition to a determination made under Section 4 of this Act; or (b) acting in breach of a ban made under Section 1 of this Act,shall be deemed to not care about the children and/or to be soft on terrorism.”

The Act should also include the following power at Section 6 so that any emerging issues can be addressed:

“In the event something must be done, a Minister may at his or her discretion choose a thing to do, and the thing chosen shall be deemed as the something that must be done.”

This discretionary power, however, is subject to Section 7:

“The thing chosen under Section 6 shall not have any rational or proportionate relationship to any intended objective.”

Section 8 will provide:

“There shall be crackdowns, announced from time to time by press release. Any crackdown under this Section 8 shall not endure more than one day after the press release in which it is announced.”

Section 9 further provides:

“There shall always be new penalties. And these penalties shall always be deemed tougher than the previous penalties and so shall be called ‘tough new penalties’ until superseded by the next ‘tough new penalties’ when they become ‘the old ineffective penalties’. However, any ‘tough new penalties’ under this Section 9 shall have no greater effect than ‘the old ineffective penalties’, even if announced as part of a crackdown under Section 8.”

And Section 10 puts the Human Rights Act in its place:

The Human Rights Act 1998, and especially section 3 of the Human Rights Act 1998, must be read and given effect in a way which is compatible with this Something Must Be Done Act 2014.”

Finally, Section 11 of the Act shall set out its extent and application:

“This Act extends beyond the rule of law.”

David Allen Green is a lawyer and journalist. He blogs at the Financial Times and Jack of Kent.

14 Comments

Ross

surprised there is no attempt to prevent future parliaments from reversing or amending the SMDA (2014) or requiring a super-majority so to do – as these seem to form part of the same tendency.

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Mark Scorah

How about Think of the Children Act? You could even go for US acronym style name TOTCARE Act. I know the A=act (and the R&E come from no where) but it doesn’t stop people saying PIN number

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Surely this will be introduced as the “Deeply Obscure Regulatory Burden Reduction Regulations (On No Account Bother Reading This) 2014”?

Saves all that trouble with amendments and stuff… sorry, prevents the Opposition from obstructing The Thing That Must Be Done, Which Is To Permit Things To Be Done and Protect Kittens.

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Julian Bray

….and not a single inter alia to be seen. Wonderful stuff. Merry Crimble

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I remember reading an after dinner speech by a senior judge some time back (I think possibly Taylor LCJ) which proposed that Criminal Law could be replaced by two offences. First, being out of order. Second, being bang out of order. Juries would easily be able to interpret this and apply it. So, for example, the Grillo sisters can be seen not to have done anything out of order in the circumstances.

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Malcolm Beakhust

Surely, the Anti Social Behaviour Act covers all these bases.

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Nick

I have two technical points to make:

1. There is no mention of cats, a major omission in any legislation drafted by your good self
2. Surely it’s a Bill, not an Act. Although, once it’s passed and becomes an Act, the difference between Bills and Acts will be immaterial

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Matt Lincoln

As Maggie would say, “What a good idea”.

Judicial Review repeatedly frustrates the clear will of Parliament and brings the judiciary into disrepute. We should not place them in this position. That is the real risk to the rule of law.

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Ariel Sharon

Whoaa De-ja vu, seems like we are in Saddam’s Iraq pre- 2003 !

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Joy Kyakwita

David, you need to send this to the SSHD. I am sure she will believe it is the missing link in the recent changes, since every little helps! Very funny one! Merry Christmas.

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David West

Agreed..too much ‘law’ …politicians of every hue think that they need to be seen to be ‘doing something’ by promoting endless legislation.
Q. Is there a link between the endless tide of new UK and Euro’ laws ( enforced by an increasinlgy intrusive and powerful UK / Euro state ), and the clear demise of democracy in this country ?

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