Not Saussure

December 23, 2006

Radio 4 ‘Today programme’ Christmas repeal

Filed under: civil liberties, Law, Uncategorized — notsaussure @ 2:15 am

Difficult one, this. The Today Programme are running a Christmas Repeal, asking listeners to vote, based on nominations sent in by listeners, on which one of a short-list of six laws should be scrapped.

Contenders are:

  • Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 (which makes it illegal to own certain breeds of dog without exemption from a court)
  • Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 (with reference to the limitations on demonstrating near Parliament)
  • Human Rights Act 1998
  • European Communities Act 1972 (allowed Britain to join the EC, later the EU)
  • Hunting Act 2004 (restricts hunting with dogs)
  • Act of Settlement 1701 (prevents the accession of a Catholic to the throne)

I’m finding it difficult to choose between the Dangerous Dogs Act, SCOPA and the Hunting Act.

The last one [of these three], championed for repeal by Jim Barrington, a former director of the League Against Cruel Sports on the grounds it’s a ‘confused, nasty, spiteful piece of legislation’ (audio) that does nothing to promote animal welfare (indeed, rather the opposite — it’s just that we don’t see foxes that have been shot and wounded creeping off to die slowly, so that’s OK) almost didn’t make the shortlist (audio) on the grounds it’s almost certainly going to win because the Countryside Alliance will doubtless get up a campaign to back calls for its abolition (the e-petition to scrap it is, I see, the second most popular petition on the Downing Street website).

The Dangerous Dogs Act is a monstrosity of knee-jerk legislation, even worse than the The Firearms Act 1997, and the objections to the ban on demonstrating near Parliament are too well known to need rehearsing.

Human Rights Act I’m in favour of, anyway, in that it does no more than speed up access to judicial remedies for which we’d otherwise have to go to Strasbourg — same result, just used to take longer and cost more money. Repealing the European Communities Act doesn’t achieve anything, since we’re still signatories to the relevant treaties so all those would have to be renegotiated, and I can’t get too worked up about the Act of Settlement (or, indeed, who gets to marry Prince William).

At the moment, I think it’s probably a toss up between SCOPA and the Hunting Act, both on civil liberties grounds. Anyone want to assist me in this momentous decision (other than reminding me that I can always manipulate cookies in my browser, which I’d of course thought of, but that’s cheating).



  1. Ever helpful, can I point out that according to your list, “the last one” you refer to as being championed by the League Against Cruel Sports is that which prevents Catholics from ascending the throne. As far as I know, we no longer hunt Catholics with dogs, although as a matter of principle, I suppose it is a subject over which gentlemen of good will, or even bad will, might debate over the port! Also, to be honest, I have never seen any Catholics burst into tears over their exclusion. (Well, I mean who in their right mind would want the job?)

    No doubt about where my vote would go, obviously in favour of … ah, but hang on, this is the time of party games so I leave it to you to guess. What fun Christmas is, to be sure!

    Comment by David Duff — December 23, 2006 @ 7:55 pm

  2. No. Dangerous Dogs, SCOPA, Hunting Act. The last one…

    I’ve emended it, but I thought my meaning and the grammatical sense were clearly enough. Obviously not. Sorry to have confused you.

    As to the Act of Settlement, I think you’re quite right. My late wife reckoned that it did come as a great disappointment to her when she realised, as a child, she wouldn’t get to marry a prince and be queen unless she converted but that she soon got over it and realised, only a few years later, that the Act of Settlement, in fact, exists to protect Catholic girls from a truly horrible fate.

    Comment by notsaussure — December 23, 2006 @ 8:10 pm

  3. No, no, it’s me that’s easily confused, no need to apologise.

    And to put you out of your suspense, because of course you have been fretting non-stop wondering which I would choose, my vote is for the “European Communities Act 1972 (allowed Britain to join the EC, later the EU)”, on the grounds that that would more or less take us out of the Human Rights Act as well.

    (Well, a chap can dream, can’t he?)

    Have a good Christmas.

    Comment by David Duff — December 23, 2006 @ 11:54 pm

  4. Repeal the hunting act followed by all of the rest of Labours badly drafted pieces of legislation. It’s unbelievable that after eighteen years in opposition this bunch of work shy incompetents have passed bad laws, started illegal wars, killed thousands of Britains with the MRSA virus in our filthy hospitals, shut down more hospitals, special needs schools and day care centres then the Tories and, still they continue to bleat like little lambs to the slaughter. Who in their right mind would want to vote Labour and why.

    Comment by Mike Fry — December 31, 2006 @ 7:20 pm

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