Sunday, June 29, 2014

Simon Hughes: Government must stop inventing new crimes

From the Independent website:
Cabinet members have received an "urgent plea" to stop clogging up the statute book with unnecessary new criminal offences. ... 
Mr Hughes sent every Secretary of State a letter last week calling for prudence over introducing new criminal offences. At the end of this year Mr Hughes will publish figures on the number of new criminal offences that have been introduced in this Parliament, as well as those that have been removed or amended. 
Mr Hughes said: "I wouldn't be surprised in the first year of using this comprehensive methodology if there is a net increase in offences across the UK since 2010." 
A Whitehall source added: "This letter could be described as an 'urgent plea': let's try and keep the statute book as simple as possible.
This issue is a good test of the Coalition's intellectual and moral coherence. The Agreement that formed it seemed to promise a break from Labour's unrelenting invention of new crimes:
We will be strong in defence of freedom. The Government believes that the British state has become too authoritarian, and that over the past decade it has abused and eroded fundamental human freedoms and historic civil liberties. We need to restore the rights of individuals in the face of encroaching state power, in keeping with Britain’s tradition of freedom and fairness.
But in power the temptation to follow Labour's example has proved harder to resist.

It may just be the shortage of money or administrative convenience that have led Simon to issue this plea, but I am glad he has done so.

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