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Posted: This week, Thursday 2nd November 2006 will see the third and final reading of the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill in the House of Lords. This bill has been dubbed the "Abolition of Parliament Bill" and the "Totalitarianism Bill", among other things, and, if passed, will grant any minister the ability to amend, replace, or repeal existing legislation, without Parliament being able to examine or debate their reasons, thus removing away the ability of Parliament to meaningfully represent the citizens of this country.
On Friday 27th October, House of Lords attempted to make the Bill safer, but lost by just 13 votes. There is now just one last chance to protect democracy in the UK and you can all help by writing to a Lord. Here's what to do...
1. Go to www.writetothem.com/lords
2. Click "Random Lord" near the bottom of the page.
3. If you get a Labour peer, then click the back button and press "Random Lord" again. No point writing to Government peers on this one. Labour, Liberal Democrat, Crossbench, Bishops etc. are all fine.
4. Write a letter making the following points in your own words:
* The Third Reading (that's the last one in the House of Lords) of the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill is this coming Thursday, 2nd November.
* Explain to the Lord how important Parliament is to hold the Government's power in balance, and how you would not like to see this Bill passed in a form which would weaken Parliament.
* In the first clause of the Bill, there is a section which says that the purpose of the Bill is to "reduce burdens". Unfortunately, all it says that the *Minister* must consider whether the change in law he wants to make reduces burdens. This is better than the original Bill at the start of the year, but it is still not good enough.
* Say that you would like the phrase "he considers" to be removed from the Bill, so that any law changed under it must be considered burden reducing by any reasonable person. Rather than by a possibly unreasonable Minister.
(you can skip the last two points if it seems too complicated to explain; the next one is the key one)
* Ask the Lord to attend Parliament on Thursday, and vote for any opposition amendments which remove the phrase "he considers", or otherwise make the Bill safer.
* Ask your Lord to vote *against* passing the Third Reading of the Bill if the phrase "he considers" is not removed.
* Thank them!
5. Send the letter. You're done.
Most letters will be sent to the House of Lords fax machine (they haven't got around to e-mail yet) so please don't be tempted to send the message to multiple peers.
For further background on this, see here and here. The actual section of the Act which contains the "he considers" section can be found here
If you are a UK citizen, love your country and the democracy in which you were raised, please spend a few short minutes to protect it.