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British Deputy Prime Minister asks public for help scrapping laws

07-02-2010 08:12 BJT

LONDON, July 1 (Xinhua) -- British new deputy prime minister Nick Clegg on Thursday put forward an unusual plan for a government, most of which spend their time making laws -- he has asked for suggestions of laws which can be scrapped.

The initiative is driven through a government website and breaks down into three areas -- repealing unnecessary laws, cutting business regulations and restoring civil liberties.

So far, suggestions include the not entirely serious one of getting rid of the law of gravity, because it discriminates against fat people. Another, equally frivolous one, is repealing a ban on being able to marry a horse.

More seriously, suggestions included legalizing the use of certain banned drugs, like marijuana. Smoking was also a popular subject with appeals to drop the ban on smoking in public places, which makes it illegal to smoke in pubs, bars, restaurants, trains, buses, and stations.

Other smoking-related suggestions including making smokers and very fat people pay for their own health treatment. Britain provides all citizens with free health care through the National Health Service.

In other areas, suggestions included free 10 megabyte broadband for everybody; abolishing the maximum road speed limit, which is currently about 112 kilometers an hour; and changing the laws on copyright, gambling and local and central taxation, among others.

A contentious issue will be the repeal of the ban on hunting foxes with packs of dogs, which the last Labor government introduced after lengthy debates in the House of Commons and a violent protest march in central London from pro-hunt demonstrators.

He initiative proved so popular on its first day that the website continually crashed throughout the day.

Deputy prime minister Clegg is the leader of the Liberal Democrat party, the left-of-center minority party in the new coalition government which formed in the wake of the inconclusive May 6 general election.

Liberal Democrats are keen on civil liberties, and Clegg's initiative is a sign of that enthusiasm. It also wins approval from the majority coalition partner, the Conservative party, which is traditionally in favor of cutting red tape and reducing the powers of the state.

Clegg said, in a Youtube clip to British voters, "Be demanding of your liberty. Be insistent about your rights. Every time you have had to fill out three versions of the same form, tell us about it. Every time you have felt snooped on by the state, tell us about it. Every unnecessary law, every mind-numbing rule, every time your rights have been infringed now is the time to tell us about it."

At the launch on Thursday he added, "What I find especially exciting about this project is that, now we have got the ball rolling, the debate is totally out of government's control. Real democracy is unspun it is the raucous, unscripted debates that always throw up the best ideas."

The suggestions are displayed on the website, and the public is able to comment and to vote on them.

Government ministers and civil servants will comment on the suggestions, and those laws which will be repealed will be included in a new Freedom Bill which Clegg will introduce to parliament this autumn.

Editor:Zhang Jingya |Source: Xinhua

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