Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Ministry of Unintended Conseqences

If I were Prime Minister I would set up a Ministry of Unintended Consequences. One of New Labor's trumpeted achievements was the incorporation of Human Rights Legislation into UK law. It sounded good at the time, but it has had the unintended consequence of empowering the judges to frustrate the will of Parliament.

Wicked men from other countries, many of them illegal immigrants, commit crimes in the UK, and are recommended for deportation after they have been released from prison. In many cases pure indolence on behalf of the prison authorities and the immigration department has prevented this from happening, but where they do try and carry this out judges rule that it would infringe the human rights of the individual to send him back to Somalia. It's too dangerous for him. It doesn't seem to occur to the judge that it's a dangerous place because it's full of people like the man we want to deport there.

Human rights legislation is unworkable without a written constitution, something Britain lacks. Our rights are founded on the Common Law and legal precedent. The European Convention of Human Rights might fit with the Napoleonic code, or in countries with an elected judiciary, but judges are supposed to interpret the law as parliament intended, they get above themselves when they interpret it as they think Parliament ought to have intended it.

They need to remember the sovereignity of the people in all this is paramount.

This is not the first time that government action has had unintended consequences. Targeting funding to elective surgery had the unintended consequence of starving acute illness of funds. Setting up unitary local authorities had the unintended consequence of reducing the size of social services departments, ending sub-specialisation in social workers, delaying the discharge of elderly patients from hospital, causing a back-up of emergency patients in Emergency Rooms, thus delaying elective surgery. In schools, in hospitals, in prisons, in road building, in energy policy, in Iraq; whatever the government attempts has unintended consequences. What would my minister do? He would say don't legislate, don't interfere; small government is best.

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