Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill

The more I learn about the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill the more it concerns me. There is a case to be made for more effective legislative decision making processes. But there must absolutely be proper scrutiny of legislative proposals by parliament. Giving ministers and other officials, of whatever political persuasion, the power to make it up as they go along and when they feel like it, to amend any legislation, is just plain daft. Even the brightest, most well intentioned politician gets it wrong occasionally.

Michael Smyth and Patricia Barratt of law firm Clifford Chance are amongst those who have also expressed concern about the proposals.

Typically the bill is being sold by the government as a way of cutting through unnecessary red tape and bureaucracy but as usual we should be paying attention to the small print which says something completely different. Sadly, as usual the sales speak is proving persuasive even in the case of those who should know better.

David Frost, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), has said:

"We welcome this Bill which could represent a major step forward in the drive to reduce the burden of regulation on British businesses. Complicated and costly regulation is one of the main barriers to business growth, especially for smaller companies. The new measures in this Bill are long overdue.

“This legislation must equip Parliament with the power to scrap costly and burdensome regulation so that businesses can be free to grow and succeed. “This Bill needs to make a real difference to employers in the day to day operation of their business. "

Well you can be sure it will make a difference to business. Ministers with the power to change any law, without the tedious process of having to shepherd their ideas through parliament, and under pressure to stimulate headline writers, just won't be able to resist their infinite numbers of opportunitites to "make a difference." It'll be the kid in a sweet shop syndrome. And if you think government interferes too much with business now, just wait until a flurry of eager ministers are let loose in this particular legislative sweetshop.

Thanks to EU Serf for the links.

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