Luke Whitmore

Luke Whitmore

Google Plus News author

Cameron to cut chances for legal challenges against government schemes


19 November 2012

David Cameron has declared that he will slash the ability to bring legal challenges against government policies, claiming that the UK "is in the economic equivalent of war".

In a speech given to the CBI (Confederation of British Industries) annual conference, Cameron claimed that "bureaucratic nonsense" was standing in the way of growth, and that he intended to put a stop to it.

Judicial reviews, which ensure that the means of implementation for government schemes were decided upon through the appropriate procedures, will see a rise in cost, a drop in the period in which someone can apply and fewer opportunities to appeal.

These judicial reviews can currently be sought by individuals or firms if they feel a decision made by authorities was in error. Virgin’s recent legal challenge of First Group’s acquisition of the West Coast Mainline’s franchise was one such review, which found that the selection had been made for the wrong reasons.

But Cameron claims the challenges are a "massive growth industry", citing the 11,000 applications for judicial reviews in 2011, and stacking them up against the number in 1975 – a mere 160.

The prime minister also declared that he was to put an end to equality impact assessments, which are in place to ensure that policies do not unduly disadvantage people of a particular gender, race or religion.

Cameron pushed a war analogy in his speech, comparing the current economic climate to the fight to beat the Nazis in World War II.

"When this country was at war in the '40s, Whitehall underwent a revolution," said Cameron. "Normal rules were circumvented. Convention was thrown out. As one historian put it, everything was thrown at 'the overriding purpose' of beating Hitler.

"Well, this country is in the economic equivalent of war today - and we need the same spirit. We need to forget about crossing every 't' and dotting every 'i' - and we need to throw everything we've got at winning in this global race."

But not everyone is on board with Cameron’s plans. Dan McLean, of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, has hit back, saying: "The system is already stacked against local people trying to protect the areas they love. The only way for local people to oppose a bad development that has already been granted planning permission is through judicial review."

"This is already very expensive and time-consuming. Putting this option further out of reach for many people will only make it even harder for local people to take a democratic role in planning decisions where they live."

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