Thursday, 17 November 2011

This seemingly trivial story offers a good illustration of the bureaucratisation of Britain. A local council wanted to shut down some libraries to save money. Campaigners took the matter to court and got a judge to overrule the elected officials.
Campaigners attempting to stop the closure of their local libraries won a surprise victory in the high court on Wednesday when a judge ruled that the decision to axe services in Gloucestershire and Somerset was unlawful and should be quashed.

In his judgment on a judicial review brought by campaigners in the two counties, Judge Martin McKenna found that local authorities had failed to comply with their public sector equality duties when pushing through the closures.

To the gasps and muted exclamations of the campaigners sitting at the back of the court, he ordered the councils to revisit their plans. Failure to do so, he said, would send the wrong message to other councils.

"It is important to the rule of law to give due regard to these issues of equality," added McKenna, before refusing the defence permission to appeal. Gloucestershire and Somerset county councils could still lodge a request with the court of appeal.

There are two main elements to this: judicial review and the equality duty.

The practice of judicial review allows judges to decide whether government officials have acted lawfully in using their powers in the matter at issue. In theory, it doesn't allow judges to overrule government officials on policy issues, only to decide whether the proper procedure has been observed. In practice, it offers enormously broad scope for judicial interference with normal democratic processes.

Powers of judicial review have existed since time immemorial. But they lay dormant and almost unused until the 1960s. Then the practice was revived and has been continually expanding in scope ever since. It is now routine for decisions made by elected officials to be challenged in the courts under judicial review, even on matters as trivial as library closures.

Part of what makes the practice of judicial review so potentially pernicious is the existence of various legal duties on public officials. One of these is the equality duty. In simple terms, it forces officials to ask "How will this affect brown people?" in relation to every decision that they make. And not only ask but consult and prepare studies on the subject. OK, this is a slight exaggeration. The legislation covers a variety of people with "protected characteristics" - disabled and the elderly and so forth - but we all know who this is really aimed at.
In summary, those subject to the equality duty must, in the exercise of their functions, have due regard to the need to:

Eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation and other conduct prohibited by the Act.

Advance equality of opportunity between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not.

Foster good relations between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not.

These are sometimes referred to as the three aims or arms of the general equality duty.

The Act helpfully explains that having due regard for advancing equality involves:

Removing or minimising disadvantages suffered by people due to their protected characteristics.

Taking steps to meet the needs of people from protected groups where these are different from the needs of other people.

Encouraging people from protected groups to participate in public life or in other activities where their participation is disproportionately low.

This law is an instrument of genocide, designed to force indigenes to accommodate themselves ever more greatly to the alien colonists. That it can also be used by daft, middle-class campaigners to stop library closures in leafy suburbs is simply an absurd side-effect.

This "equality duty" is incumbent on all public sector organisations. It is also incumbent on private sector organisations when they are dealing with public sector organisations. So if a company gets a government contract, it will have to comply with it. There is discussion among the utopian elite about extending the duty to all private sector organisations and it's surely only a matter of time before that happens.

Of course, in addition to the intangible loss that results from the infringement of democracy, all of this bureaucratisation has a price. An extra layer of pointless paper-shuffling is added to almost everything any major organisation does. All of it wastes time and costs money. And everyone involved in the shuffling hears the message that underlies this legislation: "You have been colonised. Your country is no longer yours. The interests of the invaders are paramount. Adapt yourselves to the new order of things."


Mullah Lodabullah said...

All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.

Blog Archive

Powered by Blogger.

Blog Archive

Total Pageviews