New law every 3 hours from Blair

One law every three hours has been created during Tony Blair’s decade in power – most of it without the full scrutiny of parliament, research published today will reveal.

Over the past ten years, close to 30,000 new laws have been created – an average of 2,685 a year or more than seven a day.

But the Labour government has also increasingly used statutory instruments, rather than acts of parliament, to impose the new flood of legislation.

Some 98 per cent of new laws in the Blair decade were introduced by statutory instrument, allowing less time for debate in parliament than the tabling of a bill.

The revelations – made in a study by legal publisher Sweet & Maxwell – will underline accusations that the Labour government has been obsessed with burdening business with red tape, while weakening parliamentary democracy.

Most of the new laws were created in the areas of employment and criminal law. But the total – which is more than a fifth higher than under the previous ten years of Conservative rule – does not include new laws introduced to abide by European Union regulations.

Len Sealy, a Cambridge University professor of law who carried out the study, said that the EU regulations covered subjects from cross-border insolvency to the importing of bed linen.

“All became law here without our legislators having to lift a finger,” he added.

Oliver Heald, the shadow Cabinet Office minister, said making a new law was enough to “grab a cheap headline”, but was not the most effective way to run the country.

Meanwhile, a separate study by the Liberal Democrats found that at least 285 English schools are fingerprinting pupils without any government guidance.

The investigation found only a quarter of local education authorities had details about the use of fingerprinting and the government has no idea how many children have their information stored.