by Stephen Tall on December 6, 2008
As the House of Commons debates the Queen’s Speech, Lib Dem shadow home secretary Chris Huhne highlighted some of the more ludicrous examples of Labour’s legislative incontinence – here’s an excerpt from his speech as recorded by Hansard:
We are to have the 26th Criminal Justice Bill and the seventh Immigration Bill from this Government since 1997. Various of those Bills have been shovelled through this House so hastily that whole sections and clauses have not been considered at all and have had to be reviewed in the other place. We now know from parliamentary answers to questions tabled by Liberal Democrats that no fewer than 3,600 new criminal offences have been introduced by this Government since 1997, yet extraordinarily, the Home Secretary—who, sadly, is no longer in her place—assures us that one of her key priorities is to reduce the need for police paperwork and bureaucracy. The extraordinary creation of offences by the Government is massively complicating the job of law enforcement and of the whole criminal justice system.
Some of these offences are completely bizarre—for example, the offence of causing a nuclear explosion. The idea that anyone might cause a nuclear explosion without killing anybody, and therefore being subject to a possible charge of murder, is extremely far-fetched. It is perhaps reassuring for some on the Government Benches that were there to be a nuclear explosion that did not kill anyone, the perpetrator could, indeed, be charged. Other of the new offences include: wilfully pretending to be a barrister; disturbing a pack of eggs when instructed not to by an authorised officer; obstructing workers carrying out repairs to the docklands light railway; offering for sale a game bird killed on a Sunday or Christmas Day; attaching an ear tag to an animal where it has previously been used to identify another animal; landing at a harbour without permission a catch that includes unsorted fish. I could continue that extraordinary list of new offences.