Not much of a Freedom Bill?

 

             Melissa Kite in yesterday’s Sunday Telegraph revealed that the much vaunted Freedom Bill has been scaled down and transferred to the Home Office, as suggested on this site recently. She went to Liberal Democrat sources, who told her that Mr Clegg does not want to sift through the mountains of suggestions that came into the Cabinet Office website when they launched their consultation. I thought that was what we were paying his salary to do.

            I find it difficult to understand why Mr Clegg should be so reluctant.  When he set up the site he spoke well about the need to listen to the public and adopt their best ideas for remodelling government. The public exceeded expectations, inundating him with proposals. He should welcome that, and enjoy selecting the best for the first Freedom Bill.

              The Home Office has not ruled out incorporating ideas from other departments in their Bill, but it sounds as if the whole exercise has been scaled back to just make it a civil liberties Bill. Meanwhile, when it comes to excessive burdens on business, we are back in study mode. The governemnt is  consulting widely yet again over what if anything to deregulate. If the government is trying to sandbag deregulation then consulting  big business again  is the best way to do that, as big business nearly always confirms it can handle existing regulations, seeing them as a useful barrier to new and more competitive entrants to the market. Most small business is too busy minding the shop to spend time answering endless government consultations which might not lead anywhere. How many more do we have to go through before the government repeals anythigng that costs busienss a lot and delivers little? They are spoilt for choice. I trust Parliament will have plenty to say about this on Thursday.

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26 Comments

  1. Posted November 8, 2010 at 8:06 am | Permalink

    Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

    • Posted November 8, 2010 at 11:52 am | Permalink

      I wish I could find it in myself to disagree with you.

  2. Posted November 8, 2010 at 8:26 am | Permalink

    Clegg abandoning the Freedom Bill under the pretext that ‘it’s too much like hard work’ is repellent. More likely it’s because he’s in government now and the little people matter a lot less after you’ve scrambled to the top of the ladder.

    Does he have no one working for him that he trusts? We don’t expect him to read 14,000 (which I read somewhere was the number but it doesn’t matter what the number is) suggestions, a lot of which will be bonkers, some of which will be repeated and others not applicable.

    Get some minions to get the list down to a manageable couple of hundred, spend an afternoon red lining 3/4’s of them and bring 50 to the table for further discussion.

    Any reasonable department could bottom this out in a week, or they’d be getting emails from management asking what the hold up is.

    It’s no wonder UK Plc is swirling down the plug hole.

    Another stain on the reputation of politicians.

  3. Posted November 8, 2010 at 8:38 am | Permalink

    All the early promises are all begining to unwind, the status quo or standstill function buttons all seem to have been pressed.

    I would have thought, like you, that going through suggestions yourself (Mr Clegg) may have proved enlightening if not amusing in some cases.

    I guess having been in the EU Parliament and now Deputy Prime Minister it is all now thought to be below his status to simply sift through ideas.

    As you correctl;y say big business has the big departments to deal with all of this Government Crap, Small business owners sometuimes have to scrub floors, and that is the difference.

    Last month I recieved a missive from the Waste Register a Department of The Environment Agency informing me I needed a Waste Licence at a cost of £154.00. otherwise I could be fined up to £5,000 if caught carrying waste. All Builders, Plunbers, Electricians, decorators and the like should have one as they do spot checks.

    It would seem carry in away from site excess building materials, boilers, paint, timber and the like constitutes waste transporting.

    I contacted the Department involved, and told them that all of my waste goes in a skip (which it does) The skip company have the Waste Licence and any spare materials left over from a job is recycled, and so is not waste.

    Please advise who will decide in a Court of Law when products are to be regarded as waste, and by what authority.

    • Posted November 8, 2010 at 8:39 am | Permalink

      Sorry about some of the spelling in a hurry to get out.

      Things to do !!!!

    • Posted November 8, 2010 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

      Don’t forget if you’re in business and carry paint or has a un number in a commercial vehicle you need an ADR training/ licence, minimum ppe fire extinguishers, masks, goggles, gloves etc.

      • Posted November 8, 2010 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

        enamel or gloss paint or ‘anything that has’ a un number

        • Posted November 8, 2010 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

          a-tracy

          Yes, its a wonder any work gets done at all !

          The general public can of course carry what they like in an unsuitable car boot (or back seat floor). As many do !

          Perhaps that is why so many decorators run an old estate vehicle, and not a van, I often wonder if they are insured for Class one business use, Or the more usual Social Domestic and Pleasure, which is cheaper, that is until you have an accident.

  4. Posted November 8, 2010 at 8:53 am | Permalink

    As expected no real progress on freedom or deregulation usual.

    Much talk of consultation and giving people more power to people but if you want the referendum on “The Treaty”, as promised by all three parties or anything else of import forget it. The UK is not the sort of democracy that lets people have any real say in anything.

    Might we perhaps though at least have the freedom not to have our properties broken in to and squatted in. I see the (hugely over publicly funded) BBC seems again to be promoting this activity today.

    Just why should the owners have to pay thousands to lawyers and courts and have to wait months to recover their property? I assume because, as usual, courts & lawyers have been allowed to interpret the law in a way designed mainly for their self enrichment.

    If this were addressed properly no one would break in and squat in the first place as they would know they would be moved on within hours by the police. Just as if they had broken into a car.

  5. Posted November 8, 2010 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    I suppose it was only to be expected. Why would Clegg bother working to deliver actual freedom to ordinary people? He’s having far too much fun being in power.

  6. Posted November 8, 2010 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    Excellent John
    So I take it we are stuck with the Equalities Enforcement Bill, Higher EU membership costs, greater maternity leave commitments, the quangos, the red tape, the litigation culture, the oversupply of education, the red herrings of green industries and high speed rail and a recession postponed until 2015.
    Still, it could be worse, couldn’t it?

    • Posted November 8, 2010 at 10:47 am | Permalink

      Yes all the above madnesses and a labour Government after 2015 to look forward too as Cameron & Clegg follow Heath, Major, Bliar and Brown down the pro EU/ever bigger government & more regulation drain hole.

      Leave now if you can.

  7. Posted November 8, 2010 at 10:52 am | Permalink

    Just as I expected.
    All the Ministers should be putting pressure on their top Civil Servants to take action, clearly no-one expects Clegg to sift all these suggestions personally. Has he never heard of effective delegation? As a result, the Civil Service is running circles around him just like in “Yes Minister”.
    Perhaps Clegg needs to go on a Management Course or spend some time “shadowing” the CEO of a major company to discover how things are done and how to delegate.

  8. Posted November 8, 2010 at 10:55 am | Permalink

    The problem with asking the general public for ideas is that their preferences will be naive; uneducated and authoritarian; with a large dose of spite and envy thrown in.

    Much simpler to have a look at what is turning up at Tribunals and Courts. See which bits of legislation are being used most frequently to mug employers. Which ones are nice little earners; guaranteed to get a nice bit of cash back for a minimum outlay of the plaintiffs / trade unions money. Going to an employment tribunal is a good day out at no cost; it is literally a free lottery ticket.

    Most small employers will just give up and pay, rather than face the time and expense appealing decisions of courts and tribunals. Plaintiffs at tribunals should have to put up some collateral; like some money and automatic dismissal if they loose.

  9. Posted November 8, 2010 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    It did not take the Civil Service and the liberal elite long to bring the new Government into line so its back tracking all the way on: immigration, the EU, civil liberties and now de-regulation. The Conservatives seem more concerned about what the LibDems think than their own supporters – are any Conservative policies going to survive – what’s next for the about turn?

  10. Posted November 8, 2010 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    Clegg is a Euro-zealot.
    He will not want to enact any legislation other than that which mirrors/enhances the EU. ‘Freedom’ is not in his vocabulary.

  11. Posted November 8, 2010 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

    Regulation is a necessary evil; that is to say, an evil which is necessary. No one wants uneccessary evil which is why regulation should be reduced to the strictly necessary.

    I worked for years in a regulated environment; the most striking thing is how little knowledge the regulators have of the client who is supposed to be the beneficiary, nor of the practitioner who is compelled to pay for the regulator. Regulation becomes an end in itself, no matter what the regulator says.

    When the pension mis selling scandal broke, greater regulation of the finaincial sector seemed an easy and sensible solution. I laughed when I read, more than twenty years ago, that one day the compliance officer would rule the roost. Well, twenty odd years on, that simple easy sounding concept has turned to a monster which the governemnt appears too nervous to challenge.

    How on earth did we get into this muddle?

  12. Posted November 8, 2010 at 2:56 pm | Permalink
  13. Posted November 8, 2010 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

    Your point about big business preferring the status quote is absolutely right.

    Take the banking business: reams of regulations will keep them operating in an almost identical way and keep the market restricted (or rigged, some might say) to a few players.

  14. Posted November 8, 2010 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

    What’s the point ? they now want suggestions and as long as the suggestions are the same as theirs then they may consider them. If as proved over many years the majority of people want our relationship with Europe sorted out, then it will be ignored so what the hell IS the point ? It’s an exercise in appeasment, nothing will be done about anything that’s not on your prearranged agenda. And I mean your agenda, because apart from some noise now and then you are doing nothing either.

  15. Posted November 8, 2010 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

    New Labour effectively destroyed the residual integrity in our 3 main party political system. Cameron has completed the job by finishing off what most of us over 60 would regard as the Conservative Party. The watering down of and reneging on pledges goes on with spin and the dreaded PR attempting to fool the electorate. Aircraft carriers without planes – beam me up Scotty. The USA has elections every two years, so Government has to deliver. Cameron has attempted to lock himself and Clegg in for 5 years – very democratic.
    If only George Washington was right, we can still hope.

    The next political beacon of hope are surprisingly the Scottish Parliamentary elections next May. Will the true left wing Labour Party and Scotnats sweep the board and give Westminster a good kick into the real world.

  16. Posted November 8, 2010 at 8:56 pm | Permalink

    Its all the usual lies and propaganda
    A Freedom bill as they attack jury trials and push full body scanners on all forms of transport and in all buildings

  17. Posted November 9, 2010 at 5:12 am | Permalink

    It is becoming steadily more obvious John that you are becoming increasingly frustrated with Camerons Liberal Democratic government.

    If you are frustrated by the arrogance of those in power how do you think we, the mugs who voted this government in feel.

    Conservative values are being methodically betrayed.

  18. Posted November 9, 2010 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

    We need a new conservative party.

  19. Posted November 9, 2010 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

    Your point about deregulation is absolutely spot on. The big businesses actively encourage it and the small businesses are so fragmented and busy trying to comply that their views are never taken into account. We are drowning under the weight of regulation right now. If we are to dig ourselves out of this economic mess then this must change.

  20. Posted November 10, 2010 at 10:55 am | Permalink

    Tomsmith is right. We need a new party for small business, professional and skilled trades to vote for. Now we have no-one, except discredited small parties.

    Our present leaders are unscrupulous career politicians from family backgrounds of rich city slickers. No wonder they think those of us who have developed property as long term investments are ‘not exactly helping the economy’. And why we pay the same CG tax as short term slicker income tax dodgers. We now have a stealth wealth tax, paying tax on 100% inflated money over a 20 year investment.

    TheYanks have started their Tea Party and are dumping Republican career politicians. How about us starting the’ English Bitter Party’ with meetings at the local pubs – if there are any left.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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