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Seven new laws for every day of Blair as PM

London Telegraph | June 4, 2007 
Toby Helm

More than seven new laws have come into force every day since Tony Blair came to power a decade ago, new research has shown.

The legislatively hyperactive Blair premiership has seen an average of 2,685 new laws introduced each year - a 22 per cent increase on the previous decade under the Tories.

A new law has come into being every three-and-a-quarter hours, and that's without adding on the new laws from Brussels, which had reached 2,100 by 2006.

Last night the Tories seized on the figures, produced by legal information providers Sweet & Maxwell, claiming they were proof of Labour's tendency to interfere rather than devolve and deregulate.

A massive 98 per cent of the new laws were pushed through by statutory instrument, which allows less time for debate in Parliament than the tabling of a Bill.

The increase has been marked in areas such as employment law and criminal law, with 40 criminal justice Acts introduced since 1997.

The sheer complexity of the new laws has also increased. Five acts passed in 2006 totalled more than 100 pages, three more than 200, one more than 300, one more than 500 and one more than 700.

Professor Len Sealy of Cambridge University, who helped draw up the report, said the trend towards more new legislation and the use of statutory instruments preceded Mr Blair. "But his time in office has certainly not seen an end to this rising tide.''

Prof Sealy said the rush of EU laws, covering subjects including importing of bed linen and access of poultry to open-air runs, had "all became law here without our legislators having to lift a finger''.

Oliver Heald, the shadow Cabinet Office minister, said: "Tony Blair and Gordon Brown think the answer to everything is to make a new law. But, after creating thousands of new laws, violent crime has doubled, the NHS is suffering a funding crisis and too many of our young people leave school unable to read or write.

"Making a new law is usually enough to grab a cheap headline, but after 10 years of spin you only have to look at the recent fiascos in the Home Office to see that churning out thousands of new laws is not necessarily the most effective way to run the country."

The CBI revealed recently that new employment laws had cost firms £37 billion since 1998.

Three-quarters of employers told the CBI that time spent administering and complying with new rights was damaging their business.

Two-thirds thought workplace regulations harmed the UK's reputation as a place to do business.

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