Tuesday, 4 May 2010

One more thing

Posted by Tania Kindersley.

In the last post, I blithely wrote that Labour had created 3,500 new criminal offences. It's the kind of thing that makes me cross: heavy-handed government, wasted parliamentary time, loss of civil liberties, etc etc, but I just wrote it down without thinking about it that much.

Now I can't get it out of my head. Try to imagine 3,500 criminal offences. What could they possibly be? If I had to sit in a darkened room and think up illegal acts, I would probably run out of steam once I got past the hundred mark.

So, like a gnarly old dog with a bone, I went to The Google. Here, just so you know, are some of the new laws that were passed in the Mother of All Parliaments in the last thirteen years:

You may not sell grey squirrels.

You may not impersonate a traffic warden. (Just imagine what would happen if you were caught selling squirrels whilst impersonating a traffic warden. The entire Crown Prosecution Service would implode.)

If you are a ship's captain, you may not carry grain unless you have a copy of the International Grain Code. (I admit I go nowhere without The International Grain Code; it is like The Great Gatsby to me. But I had no idea it was a legal requirement.)

You may not enter the hull of the Titanic without permission from the Secretary of State.

And listen carefully, you lovers of the Eastern Europeans: you may not import Polish potatoes, no matter what the brave Poles did for us in the Battle of Britain.

You may not, as of 1998, set off a nuclear explosion. (You did not know that was legal before, did you? So much for those Tories calling themselves the party of law and order. Pussies.)

You may not, however much you want to, obstruct the work of The Children's Commissioner for Wales.

Then there is something about unloading herrings and disturbing eggs but if I go on you shall slowly feel the very lifeforce being pulled out of you by legislative elves.

Now, here's a nice picture of some baby owls to take your mind off it all:

Baby owls via the BBC

(Via the BBC.)

Tiny postscript:

Interestingly, a lot of this nonsense was highlighted in the House by a certain Mr Nick Clegg, when he was the Lib Dems' home affairs spokesman. I am sometimes slightly rude about the implausibly plausible Mr Clegg, but absolute kudos to him for that.

Lovely bonus moment in this search: it led me to a piece in the Daily Mail, tipping its hat to the 'admirable' Nick Clegg for exposing the government's legislative madness. Is this the very same Daily Mail that only two weeks ago accused nice St Nick of a NAZI SLUR? Just asking.


  1. Trouble is there are probably good reasons for most of these bits of legislation. I can't vouch for it but I expect the grey squirrels law is probably something to do with helping to protect the red variety. The grain carrying one is probably just incorporating into English law an international obligation under some maritime convention and I bet the Polish potatoes one is EU wide and to protect our agriculture from some disease afflicting the Polish crop. The reasons will be in the Explanatory Memorandum for each law but I doubt the Daily Mail will have looked at those. Explaining those things don't made good copy however and I would also guess that the opposition probably barely showed up when this stuff was going through Parliament. I don't deny that plenty of other bits of ridiculous legislation are passed to keep the Daily Mail happy but don't imagine that the Conservatives are going to be any less keen to cater to Middle England's prejudices.

  2. Betty M - yours is a wonderful voice of reason, and very good for calming my fevered mind. I'm certain that some of the laws are indeed perfectly understandable. If it were just Daily Mail harrumphing, I would not be so exercised. Actually, the first article I saw about it was in The Indy, my paper of choice, which does not usually go in for knee-jerk grumpiness. I do agree with the Lib Dems on this one. It just seems that 3,500 cannot be necessary. But I always stand ready to be corrected, and thank you for such a thoughtful comment.


  3. think Betty is probably right- though the potato one we might have heard about if their potato was sick? maybe not

    THAT SAID they are rampant legislators


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