But boy, have they come back with a bang? CRB checks on people who work with, volunteer with, look at, know someone who has, or accidentally stumbles over TV programming aimed at children have been relaxed. I think the penny has dropped somewhere that it'll only show you to be a nonce, if you've been convicted of being a nonce.
However, in a week when we've seen the overthrow of a dictator in Egypt, and the mother of parliaments sitting down in a session where almost three hundred of our representatives discussed the primacy of a sovereign parliament over that of an unelected, non-legislative body and cried 'how did we come to be here?', (I'll give you a clue, you grinned like clueless morons whilst you handed it over without so much as a second thought), we have seen perhaps the most groundshaking development in liberties this country has seen for a long, long time.
Hold on to your hats, guys and girls:
Brilliant! Because I had been worried about the intrusion of CCTV into all of our lives, the installation of ANPR cameras on the main roads in and out of most towns in the UK, the retention of DNA by a paranoid and controlling state, but all that has been swept away, because now, when I go and ask the State's permission, in the form of a licence, to place my relationship on a register, so they can keep a record of who I am sleeping with, just in case the union is blessed, so they don't miss out on the tax eighteen years later, I can now have that relationship registered, at a time that is convenient to me! Break out the bunting!
The changes allowing marriages to take place 24 hours a day in England and Wales are part of the Protection Of Freedoms Bill. They will also apply to civil partnerships.
Even the gayers are included! There's going to be a hell of a party down my way.
However, there will be no prospect of spur of the moment marriages at Las Vegas-style chapels where in the past some couples have wed after a night of heavy drinking - at least 15 days advance notice will still be required.
Yes, you still need to give the state a fortnight to get its shit together, because like all good nannies, it has to be allowed to tell you to go away and think about it for a good while. You could have been together for fifteen years, but you still can't just turn up and do it. That would be unthinkable. Plus you still can't get married outside. Well, you can, but you have to be undercover when the vows are made because . . . errrm, well, you see. . . look, you just have to, OK? It's your wedding, and thus nothing to do with you at all, you can only do it in a style which we find acceptable, OK?
The Church of England says a relaxation in the times of church weddings would require a change to Canon Law from the General Synod, which meets twice a year. And the Catholic Church has reportedly said it would not conduct late night ceremonies.
The private sky pixie clubs will still be telling you what you should be doing though.
This is freedom?