Radio 4’s Christmas Repeal is not, alas, proposing to abolish Christmas, as I thought for a mad moment of optimism. Instead it means you get to vote for the piece of legislation which you think is Britain’s ‘least useful or most damaging’ law – the votes will be counted on New Year’s Day.
The problem is, there’s just too many to choose from.
The 1967 abortion act?
The ID cards act 2006?
The 1972 European Communities Act?
The Antisocial Behaviour Act 2003?
The Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006?
These are just the ones that spring to mind immediately.
And it’s noticeable how recent they mostly are. It reminds me of this article by Nick Clegg (the Lib Dems’ home affairs spokesman), where he says:
“The current Labour government is addicted to legislating; this has led to the curtailment of freedoms, confusion in business and crisis in our public services. In less than a decade in power the Blair government has clocked up over 50 Home Office Bills and created more than three thousand new criminal offences. They have added over a hundred thousand new pages of legislation to the statue book…”
How worried should I be, incidentally, to discover that I agree with almost all his Top Ten To Go?
1. Restrictions on protests in Parliament Square
2. Identity Cards
3. Extradition to the US without proper evidence
4. Police power to impose conditions on public assemblies of 2 people or more
5. Criminalising trespass in areas designated by the Home Secretary
6. Control orders
7. DNA retention of those not charged, or found innocent
8. Removal of the public interest defence for whistleblowers
9. Removal of the right to silence under arrest
10. Admissibility of hearsay evidence in court