PM to crack down on 'time-wasting' appeals


David Cameron: "If Christopher Columbus had an advisory committee he would probably still be stuck in the dock"

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David Cameron has promised to crack down on "time-wasting" caused by the "massive growth industry" in legal challenges to government policy.

The prime minister told business leaders he would "get a grip" on people forcing unnecessary delays.

Judicial review applications would cost more, with less time put aside to apply and fewer chances to appeal.

But green groups said planning laws protected the environment and should not be blamed for economic failings.

On Twitter, Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith criticised Mr Cameron, writing: "So the same PM whose dithering on airports will cost 3-6 years is now enraged by the delays affecting big infrastructure decisions?"

He added that there was a "gap between what the PM says and what the PM does".

In his speech to the CBI conference in London, Mr Cameron said the government had been "too slow" at cutting the deficit.

'Hopeless causes'

He pledged to end "equality impact assessments", which need to be carried out when new policy or legislation is introduced. He insisted that "bureaucratic nonsense" was not necessary to ensuring the rights of different sexes, races and religions were upheld.

Individuals and organisations can seek a judicial review if they think a decision by a public body has been made unlawfully.

The review, carried out by a judge, looks only at the way the decision was reached - rather than whether it was correct or not.

A recent example was Virgin's successful challenge against the awarding of the West Coast Mainline rail franchise to First Group. It was found there had been "significant flaws" in decision-making.

Start Quote

The majority of judicial review applications are in one area - immigration and asylum”

End Quote

Downing Street figures show more than 11,000 applications for judicial review were made in 2011, compared with just 160 in 1975.

BBC legal correspondent Clive Coleman said the majority of these had related to asylum cases, which was where the "real growth" had taken place.

But, in his address to the CBI, the prime minister said the increase in unnecessary applications had been too great: "We urgently need to get a grip on this. So here's what we're going to do: reduce the time limit when people can bring cases; charge more for reviews - so people think twice about time-wasting."

It is unclear yet how much the fees would rise by for review applications or by how much the three-month time limit for applications might be cut.

But Mr Cameron said that "instead of giving hopeless cases up to four bites of the cherry to appeal a decision, we will halve that to two".

Downing Street refused to identify any infrastructure projects which had been delayed by judicial review, saying it was "not going into specific examples".

Mr Cameron also argued for less Whitehall bureaucracy and greater emphasis on the pursuit of economic growth.

He argued that government was "too slow in getting stuff done" and that civil servants must appreciate delays were felt in "businesses going bust, jobs being lost" and "livelihoods being destroyed".

Mr Cameron drew a historical analogy, saying: "When this country was at war in the '40s, Whitehall underwent a revolution.

Start Quote

Protecting the environment and boosting the economy are two sides of the same coin”

End Quote Friends of the Earth

"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."

For Labour, shadow local government minister Jack Dromey told BBC Two's Daily Politics: "This is the same prime minister who kicked into the long grass a decision on airports for at least three years.

"He is presiding over a shambles in government, where it can't make its mind up on an urgent policy."

And Friends of the Earth's Executive Director Andy Atkins said the planning system played "an important role in protecting our green and pleasant land".

He added: "It mustn't become a scapegoat for the government's economic failings.

"EU rules protect peoples' legal right to defend their environment - any moves to prevent this may well be unlawful. Protecting the environment and boosting the economy are two sides of the same coin."

Joe Rukin, co-ordinator of the Stop HS2 campaign against plans to build the High Speed 2, rail link: "The government seem to be making out that they believe any of their infrastructure plans should be above the law and do not realise that it is essential in a democratic society to be able to hold the government to account."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 1247.

    John c
    Post 1223
    How dare yo compare DC to Hitler.
    Hitler was a madman who gassed 6 million Jews plus others. DC is scaling down the appeals process. If you compre this to the Nazi regime mate you need to read history more and get a life.
    Why is it most lefties compare the Tories to the Nazies? You need to look at Stalin guys, think he was a very close second or even a winner in deaths.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1246.

    These judicial reviews hold the government to account. This is the same Cameron who has done nothing to deal with MPs expenses and wants to foist elected commissioners on us. The most anti-democratic government only for posh boys and rich developers.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1245.

    A song for thought....

    Who do you think you are kidding Mr. Cameron?
    If you think we're all dumb,
    We are the boys who will stop your little game.
    We are the boys who will make you think again.
    'Cus who do you think you are kidding Mr. Cameron?
    If you think old England's dumb?

    Sorry I just couldn't resist it!

  • rate this

    Comment number 1244.

    DC completely missing the point as usual. He'd be much better off cutting down the endless appeals procedures that keep radical hate-preachers such as Abu-Qatada in this country living at the tax-payers expense...

  • rate this

    Comment number 1243.

    Does the "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." attribution to him mean that he can neither read nor write. What is the point of language if he does not understand it? get The Meaning of Meaning by Odgen

  • Comment number 1242.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1241.

    1236 continued...
    While your party is hard at work, I notice that some are absconding to the jungle down under, or to the USA. It is not delightful to see Elected Conservative Members deserting the UK when you have a "war" on.

    There will be when the Next General Election electorate vote.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1240.

    See I read "what we're going to do is make it harder for you to put things right when we make mistakes or walk all over you. We're going to try to limit your powers to stand up to us when we have made a mess of things and don't you even dare think of not agreeing with us!"

  • rate this

    Comment number 1239.

    The mad game pf planners & listed properties is exploited. Locally a decrepit manor house was a few years ago purchased by a rich peer & restored using grant monies & later sold at a great profit. Recently another local listed house was burnt down, the rich owner is intending to rebuild using grants from English Heritage & local council grants but who do these bodies get their money from?

  • rate this

    Comment number 1238.

    Overpopulation needs to be tackled as the main limiting factor when it comes to supply & demand. Simply building more houses really isn't solving anything & will only exacerbate problems in the future.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1237.

    Only a cynic, someone who fears that the outcome is contrary to their own plans, would call appeals 'time wasting'.

    The consequences of head-long, deaf-to-opposition actions, devoid of sensible, democratic debate, are long-lasting.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1236.

    Mr Cameron, I do not relish saying the words "We told you so" when ill conceived ideas are thought up. Such ideas waste time and money and effort that could have been put to better use.
    Police Crime Commissioners: will become a Party Political debacle and now 41 PCC's will need to be paid when police costs are being reduced.
    On the day elected Northumbria's new PCC bashed Conservative so brutally

  • rate this

    Comment number 1235.

    The planning system is in a mess, we have new housing estates built immediately alongside noisy polluting motorways & ghastly industrial buildings. It is certainly time for change but the PM's suggestions are not the way. Developers & planning authorities do their own thing & further despoil this once green & pleasant land. Modern basic housing is nothing but tiny cheap tickytacky boxes.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1234.

    The only problem with Early Elections are the lack of viable candidates - just look at the quality of the PCC candidates - Apart from Labour still being lead by the wrong Millband! This country will be in deep doo-doo if we go to the polls too soon. We could just end up with a Tory/UKIP coalition. Then see how fast things will get rail-roaded through.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1233.

    Dave the bulldog

    We shall develop on the beaches, we shall develop on the landing grounds, we shall develop in the fields and in the streets, we shall develop in the hills; we shall never surrender our donors.

    Who do think you are kidding Mr Cameron...

  • rate this

    Comment number 1232.

    David Cameron has promised to crack down on "time-wasting" caused by the "massive growth industry" in legal challenges to government policy.
    Should have thought of this win auntie Maggie introduced ''No win No fee''.

    Would this have anything to day with today's speech?

  • rate this

    Comment number 1231.

    Maybe our taxation system is to blame. Why would any company choose to pay Corp. Tax at a higher rate if they could (legally) avoid it? Perhaps we should reduce our Corp. Tax lower than other countries and attract all those - and other EU companys here to pay their taxes?

  • rate this

    Comment number 1230.

    At times we all need to fly, use the train, flush the toilet, turn on lights or travel by road.
    But in reality we are all NIMBYs not wanting airports, rail lines, sewers, power stations or new roads built near our homes! We cannot have all these facilities unless some people suffer.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1229.

    It appears to me that this government is turning into a dictatorship. It is time the politicians remember that they are in their jobs to represent the electorate and the electorate should be able to hold them to account as required and not just at elections.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1228.



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