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From the former Lord Chief Justice, Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers, comes a long overdue blast of common sense over the Government’s legislative incontinence.
Lord Phillips said that the work of judges was becoming harder because of a 'ceaseless torrent of new legislation', much of which is hard to justify.
He gave as an example sexual offences which have been sub-divided into an 'astonishing' number of different offences, many of which have never been used to charge anyone.
His intervention is timely. It emerged recently that since Labour came to power in 1997, 3,600 new offences have been created by Parliament. Even more astonishing is the fact that of these, no fewer than 1,036 can result in the imposition of a prison sentence.
In other words, Labour has put a new imprisonable offence on the statute book on average every four days since it came to power.
What is the point of such legislative hyper-activity? Many of the measures are pettifogging in the extreme – covering such 'crimes' as offering for sale a game bird killed on a Sunday or Christmas Day, or disturbing a pack of eggs when instructed not to by an 'authorised officer'.