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.
- 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).