An irregular, irreverent, post-modern account of the surreal, the ordinary, and the bizarre happenings on and around the Felia lavender farm in Crete

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Esme saddles up one of Laz's hobby horses

A dear friend wrote recently in response to my post on the Blasphemy  Law and raised the point that perhaps the law in question, since it is hardly used these days, is not problematic. On a purely practical level the argument appears attractive but a deeper consideration contradicts that  simple idea. In this particular case there are two issues to contend with: firstly while the law is on the statute book I, and many like me, are de facto criminals; and secondly the fact that the government, the police forces and the crown prosecutors seldom use the law does not preclude the general public from using it.  The most recent uses of this ridiculous piece of archaic nonsense have tended to be privately brought cases (see the first section of this article) and so you see we are still subject to its use as a weapon by any religious zealot with the malice to wield it.

But back to my horse and thanks for saddling her up. Legislation and the houses of parliament. Plural remember, houses not house. Commons and Lords. A legislating chamber and an amending chamber. And, as far as it goes that's fine but let me make a case here for a third house or chamber. Anybody who knows anything about databases, and let's face it the statute book is only a database of laws, recognises 3 major activities against data - create, amend and delete, We have the create function - the commons, and doesn't this last clutch of members just love passing new laws?  Amend - go t that one  covered with the half reformed Lords (don't get me started on the composition of that place). You see where I'm going with this? Where, oh where, is the delete function? And that, at least in part. explains why so much rubbish law remains on the statute book.

So let's have a third chamber whose job it is to riffle through all extant legislation and delete or repeal all the bad laws and the laws that are never, or rarely. used. If a database is not cleaned and pruned and reorganised as a matter of regular and rigorous course then it eventually become both inefficient and or ineffective. Sounds a lot like the pass that the UK statute book is in to me. Such a house could begin with a couple of fairly simple heuristics and clean a whole swathe of accreted legal plaque from the legal system within a few short and productive years. Pick your own: The Dangerous Dogs Act? - a bad law badly drafted and enacted - DELETE; the Act of Succession? - a privileging law and against the spirit of freedom of religion - DELETE; The Blasphemy Law? - nuff said - DELETE.

I am not saying that it would be a simple matter to select the people we want to entrust such vital work to but I would suggest as a starter that ALL politicians should be automatically disbarred from standing  for such office.


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  1. I believe that is supposed to be within the remit of the Lord Chancellor's Department is supposed to do that already, but you can see what a fine job it does.

    I suppose the best we can hope for is yet another quango, and I'd like to put my name down for one of the sincecure appointments right now please.

  2. far as I'm concerned you're already elected

  3. OOh, ta, when can I start drawing the fabulous salary and egregious expense account?