Heritage Event: The Urge to Over-Legislate: Criminal Law and Public Opinion in the United Kingdom
Recorded on November 5, 2007
Location: The Heritage Foundation's Allison Auditorium
The U.K. Parliament shares Congress's propensity to criminalize
many economic and social activities that have produced great
benefits for the English-speaking world and for mankind in
general. Inigo Bing is a London Circuit Judge in one of the
United Kingdom's largest criminal courts. He routinely
witnesses the irrational and unjust results of Parliament's urge to
over-legislate and overcriminalize.
The primary function of both Parliament and Congress is to pass
laws. Because members of both bodies are selected by popular
election, they are prone to create a new law any time a clamor
arises for one. No longer satisfied with regulating,
Parliament and Congress increasingly prefer to criminalize.
Judge Bing argues that many new laws imposing criminal liability
are unjust and destructive. At their root, they depart from
our two nations' shared common-law understanding of the essential
nature and purposes of the criminal law.
Before his current judgeship, Judge Bing was a District Judge in
criminal cases, and he was a practicing barrister before ascending
to the bench. Under the Social Democratic Party (now the
Liberal Democrats), he was a candidate in the 1983 and 1987 British
General Elections. Judge Bing also serves as chairman of the
Reform Club in Pall Mall, whose members have included Winston
Churchill, Hilaire Belloc, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.