Times is reporting that a raft
of big policy announcements will be made during Tony Blair’s final weeks, aimed
at ending his 10-year reign on a high note.
Some aides claim it is a selfless act — to publish unpopular bills which
tackle crises so as to preserve Gordon Brown’s political capital when he takes
office. However, Brownites are concerned that Blair may be trying to tie his
successor into ill-planned, long-term reforms which the incoming prime minister
may not support.
Whatever the motivation, departments across Whitehall
are putting the finishing touches to Blair’s seven-week policy blitz, which
Nuclear power: The government will shortly unveil legislation paving
the way for a new generation of nuclear power stations supplying up to 40% of Britain’s
The energy white paper is expected to set out plans for 12 new nuclear power
stations. Most will be in the same places as existing plants although there may
be a few new locations, as yet undetermined.
At a recent meeting with industry experts, Geoff Norris, a senior Blair
adviser, said that he saw the new generation of nuclear power stations as the
centrepiece of Britain’s
future power generating capacity. However, he added that there would also be an
important role for gas, coal and, increasingly, renewables such as wind and
Without action to replace ageing power plants the country could face power
shortages by 2012, industry insiders have warned. The nuclear industry will
welcome the move but the biggest obstacle to building the plants — how to pay
for them — is yet to be resolved.
Planning: The nuclear power proposals will be backed by a white paper
on planning procedures. This proposes radical changes to the way big
infrastructure projects are assessed and approved.
It would include a “presumption in favour of development” designed to help
big projects win planning approval quickly. This would reverse the current
system, under which developers must often prove the benefits and necessity for
big developments — a process which can take years.
The new doctrine will be backed up by an independent planning review
commission, whose appointed members will be instructed to make their decisions
based on this presumption. It will mean that decisions will no longer rest with
elected councillors but with government-appointed bureaucrats — prompting fears
that controversial projects will be railroaded through despite local
Other projects expected to benefit from the new regime include a third
runway and a sixth terminal at Heathrow along with the expansion of 40 regional
airports as set out in the 2003 aviation white paper.
There are also plans to widen the M1, M25 and most other motorways and
create a parallel network of toll roads. House building is also set to expand.
Road pricing: The Department of Transport is putting the finishing
touches to one of the most radical pieces of legislation of Blair’s
premiership. A new road transport bill will set out a national scheme of
“pay-as-you-drive” road pricing.
A local authority — thought to be Manchester
— will be chosen as a pilot to test the technology. Cars will be fitted with
special black boxes and the price of driving a mile could vary depending on the
time of day, type of road and whether the car is in an urban or rural area. If
the pilot proves successful, a national programme of road pricing could begin
after the next election.
Casinos: Last week Blair revealed that he would try again to push
through legislation to open more and bigger casinos across Britain.
The government had pledged to allow only one Las Vegas-style “super-casino”,
which an independent panel said should be in Manchester.
Blair said last week that he did not see why more than one super-casino could
not be opened. Blackpool and the Millennium Dome have
both campaigned for such a casino.
Criminal justice: The 60th parliamentary bill on crime and justice
under Blair will bring in new laws to tackle antisocial behaviour. It will
include proposals for community-based punishments for young offenders, powers
to tackle rowdy neighbours and the scrapping of juries in serious fraud trials.
It will be the first piece of legislation to be presented by the Ministry of
Justice and opponents fear that it may also be used to change sentencing laws
to help ease prison overcrowding. The Home Office will also unveil a terrorism
bill to “tidy up” existing legislation.
European Union treaty: In the last week of his premiership, Blair
will travel to Berlin to discuss
a new EU treaty — which is being billed as a slimmed-down version of the EU
constitution rejected by voters. Fears are growing that he may sign up the
country to a set of legally binding “principles” setting out the rules of being
a member of the EU.
Education: Tomorrow Blair will make a speech about education and announce
the opening of 40 new city
academies in September. The government will launch a system of trust schools
that are funded by local councils but set their own admissions policies.
However, Brown is thought to be distinctly cool on the academies programme
and trust schools — and their architect, Lord Adonis. The whole scheme may be
quietly side-lined within months.
Health: There will be further reforms to the healthcare system with
£2.5 billion pledged to expand the network of private treatment centres contracted
to operate on NHS patients.
Defence: Blair is continuing to hold secret talks with America
over whether Britain
will host the so-called “son of Star Wars” missile programme. This would entail
antiballistic missiles located at US bases in Britain
to intercept long-range missiles. The programme is unpopular with grassroots
Labour and has caused tensions with Russia
amid fears it will trigger a global arms race.
Right to the very end Blair is still on his grandiose Nazi
legislative spree. The message that this country does not want any of this, or
him, has still not sunk in, we can only hope that Brown is listening to the
will of the people.
John Reid is also hard at work, selling hard his notion of removing key elements of the Human Rights Act,
because it cannot be done under the amendments made to the
Enabling Act Legislative
and Regulatory Reform Act, which was the original plan.
The terrorism bill to “tidy up” existing legislation is the long awaited Consolidation
Bill which will introduce even more repressive laws into the already overcrowded
arena of draconian legislation, and a further loss of liberty and rights.
The European Treaty is one which must be stopped at all costs, the
alternative is that this nation will be gone forever, never again to be called the
instead to be reduced to 12 regions of the EUSSR.
It would herald the birth of the super-state of Europe,
and a new unelected European government headed by an unelected president, Tony
Blair is hoping that the sheer weight of legislation to hit parliament will
mean that most if not all is just signalled through, without the proper
scrutiny and debate, further reducing parliament to a rubber stamp forum. More
importantly will be the mass volume of SI’s (statutory instruments) which make
amendments to existing legislation, which automatically become active unless
opposition is raised.
Please also remember that the private members bill to water down the Freedom
of Information Act, and exempt MP’s and Parliament, raised by David Maclean,
the former Tory whip, is making a re-appearance in the commons on Friday (18
May), which will make the workings of parliament to huge extent secret.
Lets see how diligent, alert and effective the opposition can be, and
whether they have the stomach for it.
NuLab – Destroying Britain
from the inside out.