Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Common Sense vs the Law vs Policy: "I Am the Law!"

"The Long View" on BBC Radio 4 this morning was a historical look at surveillance in society, with comparisons between city watchmen in the 19th century, and a look at a CCTV data centre of today. You can listen to it here.

Bill Rammell says that Universities have nothing to fear from the Terrorism Bill, but the Universities aren't so sure. Loose legislation backed up by a sense of trust seems to be the norm these days - indeed, a lot of the difference in opinion comes down to the same idea - that a large proportion of judicial action is to be inferred, and carried out more according to some idea of "common sense" than formal decree. Isn't it exactly that level of flexible ambiguity in law that the modern system evolved to avoid? Maybe it's time to do away with laws completely, and rule simply by common sense - many seem to think that a plausible option under a civilised government.

Are laws there to guide or restrict policy-makers? Will legislation evolve to take inherent common sense into account, or will the holes left in new Bills simply let politicians expand to interpret them as they want/need? Let me think^W read some Judge Dredd for a moment...

Meanwhile, I wrote a fax to my MP. Hopefully he'll reply this time.

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