Legal Cheek

The Something Must Be Done Act 2014

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.