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December 22, 2008

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Paul Flynn

I do not understand this point. Kay Tie Do you claim that local councils will reduce problems of drink?

Kay Tie

"Clauses like this are often in bills to give ministers powers in exceptional circumstances."

True, except for "exceptional". The Tories pioneered these enabling bills, and it's weakened politics and democracy (particularly local democracy).

If it weren't for the emasculation of local government, alcohol issues could be devolved to local levels. Both licensing and policing priorities could be chosen by the people who know best: those that live in the area. Instead, we have Jacqui Smith deciding that banning mixed case discounts (to the delight of supermarkets) is going to stop drunken yahoos yelling at 2am.

British-style democracy in action: inconvenience everyone to no good effect in order to scratch a Puritan itch.

Paul Flynn

Clauses like this are often in bills to give ministers powers in exceptional circumstances. what's the worry in this case? What the worst thing that any SOS could do?

Kay Tie

I didn't realise our Jacqui Smith was a political satirist too!

See this in the latest Police and Crime Bill? Schedule 4 Part 1 paragraph 2:

"The Secretary of State may by order specify conditions relating to the supply of alcohol and applicable to all relevant premises licences or relevant premises licences of a particular description if the Secretary of State considers it appropriate to do so for the promotion of the licensing objectives."

Do you really want to empower the Secretary of State (currently Jacqui, in the future Dominic Grieve) to do anything they like with reference to alcohol supply without recourse to Parliament? I wonder if the traditional high Tories would like to destroy working men's clubs? I'm sure a Tory spin doctor could find a definition tight enough, and an excuse appropriate enough, to take a thwack at these clubs. And there would be no need to persuade any backbench Tories that this is "payback for the hunting ban" either. Marvellous.

If you do vote for this, why not tack on an amendment enabling the executive to make any decision "if it considers it appropriate to do so" and then you need not bother turning up for any other decision either. Parliament could become like the electoral college in the US: turn up for a single session in order to ratify the new leader. Only without the Senate and House of Representatives.

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