Friday, March 24, 2006

Liberty, what liberty?

Emperor Joseph II of the Holy Roman Empire once said: "Everything for the people, nothing by the people."

His regime can best be described as enlightened absolutism, where the ruler is the "highest servant of the state" and exercises absolute power so as to provide for the general welfare of the population.

Enlightened absolutism is a nice example of dictatorship, an authoritarian state.

Fortunately, in England between 1642 and 1689, through a number of civil wars and revolutions our ancestors finally abolished monarchical absolutism and produced the bill of rights. There were of course a number of previous historical precedents fought for and made e.g. Magna Carta.

Since that time a slow path to an ever more democratic society has existed, with legislation enacted through the lower and upper houses. The ability of one person, to independently introduce legislation with no review or control has been curtailed and parliamentary democracy is part of our culture and heritage.

Step in the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill under which

(1) A Minister of the Crown may by order make provision for either or both of the following purposes—

(a) reforming legislation;
(b) implementing recommendations of any one or more of the United Kingdom Law Commissions, with or without changes.

In my view a nice way of saying "a minster may change the law"

The mechanism of control and review, is that

he considers that the conditions in subsection (2), where relevant, are satisfied in relation to that provision.
An order under section 1 may make such consequential, supplementary, incidental or transitional provision (including provision amending, repealing or replacing any legislation or other provision) as the Minister making it considers appropriate.

In my view a nice way of saying "if he feels the need to"

Adding the two gives "a minister may change the law if he feels the need to".

Monarchs don't hold the market on absolutism, just an historical precedent for it. This bill is a a big step in the wrong direction.