This is what a political minefield looks like

1 09 2010

Category: Law, Politics

The Equality Act is booby-trap legislation; strapped under the bridges in the closing days of Parliament as Labour retreated from power. I wrote of its awfulness soon after it had passed: bureacratic, high-minded, divisive, wasteful and corrupting

One facet of its awfulness has already been slapped in the face of the coalition government: The recent budget faces judicial review because it may not have adequately considered “what action they can take to reduce socio-economic inequalities“.

It’s surely bad form to quote myself, but here’s what I said about that duty:

How much time will that take? How much diversion from real work will be taking place while everyone at every level in public services performs back-covering exercises over everything.

How long do they have to consider it? How do they ‘consider’ it? Whose socio-economic inequalities? What priority should they have? When should that goal be compromised?

As Fraser Nelson points out in the Spectator there is a right stipulated in the Act  for absolutely anyone to seek judicial review of any of the Government Ministers, departments and key public bodies such as local authorities and NHS bodies listed in the Act.

It is a licence for legal mayhem and a seized-up executive. The scope for opponents of the government, and anyone with an axe to grind, to create governmental chaos, is absolutely, explicitly and legislatively unlimited.

The Equalites and Human Rights Commission, a quango beefed-up under the Act, is justifying its existence (and hopefuly speeding its demise in its current form) by investigating whether the Treasury has complied with its ‘obligations’.

Meanwhile the Fawcett Society is to sue on behalf of women, all women, whose interests they do not believe were sufficiently considered before the budget. The Fawcett Society had, at last count, 2,300 members.

This Act is a minefield; planted by the old government to destroy the work of the new government from beyond political defeat. Interfering with a democratically-elected government’s attempt to pass a crucial budget is merely the first round. There’s plenty more trouble in this Act, who knows where it will spring up. But it will, and soon.

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