An Act of Nonsense


I subscribe to many views today considered ‘old fashioned’. One such view is that an Act of Parliament is designed so as to confer legally enforceable rights and obligations. Sadly, this view is now extremely out-dated. Recent years have seen a trend more towards using the statute book to extole the virtues of Mother Hubbard and apple pie. The panacea of this trend came with the now legendary National Health Service Act 2006. With no sense of irony, section 1(1) states:

1 Secretary of State’s duty to promote health service

(1) The Secretary of State must continue the promotion in England of a comprehensive health service designed to secure improvement—

(a) in the physical and mental health of the people of England, and

(b) in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of illness.

Not only would this use of ‘duty’ have Hohfeld spinning in his grave, it fundamentally undermines the Act. No person can sensibly ever bring a claim against the Secretary of State for breaching this duty and so the section serves no purpose other than amusing law students.

Keep watching the skies, however, because I am confident that the standard set by the National Health Service Act could be surpassed. The latest announcement from Minister for Mother Hubbard and Apple Pie, Harriet Harman has almost unprecedented nonsense-potential. Despite this Act being just the latest in a long line of Equalities legislation, Labour’s future leader (surely not!) promises that the bill would  “narrow the gap between rich and poor and make Britain more equal”. Never one to duck an opportunity for hyperbole then! I have all fingers crossed that this will be imposed as a duty on a Secretary of State in section 1 of the bill.

Next we are told that the bill will aim to eradicate ‘unfairness’ in the workplace. If this is made into an enforceable ‘duty’ the opportunities for comedy litigation could be limitless. No longer will litigants be forced to struggle with the metaphysical and moral dilemma of how to sue God. Under the new Act we could bring a claim against our employers for all our misfortunes.

Saving the best til last, the bill aims to tackle discrimination against people from working class backgrounds. I am overcome with excitement at the prospect of seeing a legal definition of a working class person. I desperately hope the bill contains a Schedule listing key defining characteristics of a working class person. Perhaps we at the Paintbrush could compile a list for Ms Harman to include.



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3 Responses to “An Act of Nonsense”

  1. mrs election Says:

    excellent post!

  2. voteredgogreen Says:

    Not that I want to nit-pick, but isn’t the phrase “motherHOOD and apple pie”?

    It was mother Hubbard who, if I recall correctly, went to her cupboard and found that it was bare.

    More on that story later.

  3. manofkent86 Says:

    My dear fellow, that would be a cliche. The central theme of all my posts is originality and eccentricity. I will not conform to your factual-accuracy fascism.

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