Going for growth – deregulation

 

Past governments and the present government speak the language of deregulation, but end up regulating more.

Opponents always try to blame deregulators for whatever ills in society regulation was trying to cure. Sensible deregulators no more want fraud, credit bubbles, unsafe factories or bad employers than anyone else.

There are  two  main issues. How effective is each regulation – does it really reduce the incidence of the ill you dislike?  Is  the cumulative burden of all the regulation tolerable, or does the burden in turn create worse ills like too few jobs and lower living standards?

My main argument has been countering Labour’s persistent attacks on me for allegedly favouring less banking regulation prior to the Credit Crunch. What the study I chaired actually said was we needed tougher regulation of cash and capital in banks, as credit was too easy. Events proved that right. We also said that Labour’s expensive and complex mortgage regulation would not work. It clearly failed to keep the mortgage banks safe. No sooner had Labour regulated, than for the first time in a century mortgage banks were at risk.  This is a good illustration that you need to know what regulation is for, and how to make it effective. You can have too much of the wrong type of regulation.

Today the total costs of regulation on British business are high. It is not all necessary and it is not all doing a good job. I have sent numerous proposals to the government to take action to sort this out. I am told that the latest exercise will produce results.

One simple example of what could be done is the question of anti money laundering.  The aim is a sensible one. The means are bureaucratic and not convincing. The system assumes that if every bank and financial business  handling money  demands a passport and utility bill proof of the person’s identity we will be spared money laundering. It is an odd idea, as money launderers presumably have passports and utility bills. If they do not, they would be the kind of people who could forge suitable documents for their purpose.

A simple change would cut down the paperchase and record keeping. Surely any business in the UK receiving funds from a major UK, EU or US regulated bank could be spared having to make checks. They should be able to rely on the checks made by the bank which first took on the deposit. This would remove the overwhelming majority of all the checks in the current system, and allow people to concentrate on the cases where money laundering is more likely – where money comes in in suitcases or cheques drawn on dodgy banks in fringe jurisdictions.

Deregulation is the tax cut that can save the government money. We need  a strong deregulation policy – not to make the world less safe, but to make UK businesses  more competitive. So far this government has put in many more regulations than it has repealed. It needs to get better at confining regulation to the best of causes, and ensuring that the regulation they do put in actually works. They will also discover that the origin of much of the needless, expensive and ineffective regulation is the EU where they will have their work cut out to reduce it.

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54 Comments

  1. Mick Anderson
    Posted May 31, 2011 at 6:43 am | Permalink

    I seem to remember that the Coalition governement promised that for every new rule, at least one existing one would be removed.

    Sadly, I wasn’t surprised when it became obvious that it wasn’t going to happen.

  2. Martyn
    Posted May 31, 2011 at 6:45 am | Permalink

    Increased regulation + higher taxation = reduced incentive to invest in the UK.

  3. Javelin
    Posted May 31, 2011 at 6:48 am | Permalink

    Very good. I would also suggest the hugely complex tax system and compensation culture needs to be addressed to keep us competitive.

    • Javelin
      Posted May 31, 2011 at 7:56 am | Permalink

      Another good area is to ensure that economic migrants can pay their way in tax. It’s one thing to have a cheap worker but the Government still have to support their needs

      • Simon
        Posted June 1, 2011 at 11:39 am | Permalink

        You would have thought we would have enough cheap labour with millions unemployed .

        How are the school kids going to get a start if the junior positions are all filled by foreigners .

  4. norman
    Posted May 31, 2011 at 6:59 am | Permalink

    The last sentence is the kicker. We may as well talk about ‘getting tough’ on immigration (+400,000 in coalitions first year) as talk about deregulating, such is the futility of it.

    Unfortunately most people in Britain don’t really know that our politicians are now, to all practical purposes, useless so the charade goes on.

  5. Julian
    Posted May 31, 2011 at 7:15 am | Permalink

    Use of utility bills as proof of identity is particularly stupid. Anyone with a computer and program such as Photoshop can easily make a copy of a utility bill and change the name and address. Secondly, most utilities now offer a paperless billing service and encourage customers not to have bills on paper. I have had to keep one or two paper bills just in case I am asked for them.

    This gives the impression that the people who make these regulations are living 20 years in the past and have never used a computer.

  6. Mike Stallard
    Posted May 31, 2011 at 7:18 am | Permalink

    Totally right.

    I am not into banking, but in education where I spent my life and where I spend too much time now I am retired, I want to make just two points about regulation.

    In the first place, it is so very easy to lie, to cheat and to pretend to regulators. I suggest we all know this dirty little secret. The government cannot, after all, read all the rubbish that it pours out. We all know that regulation simply doesn’t work. It is just a nuisance for mugs.

    Secondly,in my life of 72 years, I have seen the power of the State grow alarmingly. What used to be completely left to professional judgement, has now become a blizzard of paperwork. Certainly teachers are trammelled now in ways that would once have been ridiculous. And, of course, schools are now, on the whole, far more dangerous than they once were. I never thought I would live to see a bank crash. Now the whole system feels pretty rickety what with the American dollar and the Sacred Euro tottering and all.

    And, as you say, it is all done by the nicest and most well meaning and successful people. That is why regulation is so very deadly. To say nothing of the expense. It has to be resisted. (Please note that a tiny little bit is necessary.)

  7. Peter van Leeuwen
    Posted May 31, 2011 at 7:29 am | Permalink

    Bankers are still given perverse incentives to take irresponsible risks with other people’s money, a clear failure to provide effective regulation in the wake of a huge global financial crisis. Many people still blame the UK and the US for this failure.
    Effective regulation in the financial sector should precede the attack on all over-regulation in other areas, as it would demonstrate that effective regulation is actually possible.

  8. lifelogic
    Posted May 31, 2011 at 7:34 am | Permalink

    What drives regulation is the need to justify more state sector jobs, expand their power base and bring in licence fee, taxes or fine income – this not the desire to fix any real tangible problems.

    The agencies usually do not care about the quality of the regulation so long as someone actually pays their wages. They therefore they like to regulate as many people as possible rather than dealing with any real problem areas. Just as the police target people doing 44 in a 40 zone on a dual carriageway or target a mother with her children late back to her car by 2 minutes as the child needed the loo rather than the really dangerous on the road.

    It is driven by money and the legislation needs to ensure that bureaucrats are rewarded only for targeting and dealing with a real problem in a way that actually addresses them positively.

    There are endless organisations that are costing and causing much more harm than good. Look at the CSA as a very good example.

    • lifelogic
      Posted May 31, 2011 at 7:43 am | Permalink

      You say “A simple change would cut down the paperchase and record keeping”.

      This reduction in the “paperchase” would clearly not be in the interest of the bureaucrats (it is their very job justification) so will not happen unless forced upon them. It never is forced on them as the political control from voter to MPs to Ministers and the EU, to legislation, to civil servants, to agency/QUANGO to front line workers is so weak as to be virtually pointless.

    • lifelogic
      Posted May 31, 2011 at 11:01 am | Permalink

      It rather looks as though the Coalition are going to loose the next election, due to their total failure to tame the bloated state sector, reduce regulation, sort out the EU and arrange a sensible energy supply policy.

      In view of this has Cameron kdecided if he is going to leave things, in 2015, as an appalling mess for Labour (as Brown kindly did the Coalition) or are they going to part sort the mess so that Labour can have a chance of several terms.

      I assume, from the almost total inaction (or often negative action) so far, that the best option (of sorting the mess fully, producing good growth and winning in 2015 & 2020) has already been fully ruled out.

      • BobE
        Posted June 1, 2011 at 12:11 am | Permalink

        Cameron will simply take a EU job and vanish. Mark my words

      • BobE
        Posted June 1, 2011 at 12:30 am | Permalink

        Cameron only cares for himself. Watch him croon to the EU his next master. How sad.

  9. Peter
    Posted May 31, 2011 at 8:17 am | Permalink

    It would be nice if this government could reduce regulation. It would mean they have achieved something other than increasing the deficit and giving away our money in foreign aid and EU contributions or bailouts.

  10. Tedgo
    Posted May 31, 2011 at 9:03 am | Permalink

    I totally agree, one cannot move ones savings around without the banks wanting to know where the money came from.

    Another area to eliminate is what I call VAT thrashing, that is all the needless payments to and from the Revenue and Customs.

    The problem manifests itself most when a customer pays you late. Currently you have to pay the VAT to the Revenue even if your customer has not paid you. Of course you also end up having to pay your suppliers and their VAT before you have been paid. This can seriously affect cash flow and is often the reason businesses take on overdrafts and loans.

    The only businesses that need to charge VAT are those that sell directly to the public, every other business need not get involved.

    It would work like this, if your customer was VAT registered you would invoice them with no VAT and likewise your suppliers would do the same. If you were in doubt about your customers VAT status you would charge VAT on the invoice. This would be simple to operate, in computer terms, requiring a flag on the customers details data base.

    VAT was invented before the majority of businesses had computers, now of course most business have automated accounts. The modification to the accounts package would be simple. Updating your customers data base with the new flag would be at your own pace.

    Yes I know small businesses can elect to not pay VAT until they have been paid, but they still have to pay VAT to their suppliers and it is a nightmare to operate, I have tried.

    • lifelogic
      Posted May 31, 2011 at 9:23 pm | Permalink

      Indeed it is an absurdly inefficient tax – some edible herb plants only have VAT on them above certain sizes, some biscuits are cakes and all the rest of the absurd nonsense getting overseas vat back etc. You could waste a lifetime just studying the VAT rules and they change them all the time too.

  11. Stephen Almond
    Posted May 31, 2011 at 9:20 am | Permalink

    I couldn’t agree more about the money laundering example.
    Is there no one in government who can look at the complex regulations and ask the simple question “has it worked?”.
    In this case, has money laundering been significantly reduced? Are the drug lords brought to their knees? Are gangsters begging on the streets, having had their funds rendered unusable?

    Instead our regulators and government continue to put the general public through useless hoops and the taxpayer continues to fund the bureaucracy necessary to support the charade.

  12. alan jutson
    Posted May 31, 2011 at 9:20 am | Permalink

    John

    The problem is that Government Ministers and Shadow Ministers bye and large simply do not really have a clue, as to how many regulations are in place which restrict a business, or time and money which the owner of that business has to spend on compliance with fees, form filling and the threat of non compliance.

    How many senior politicians have had the experience of waking up every morning not knowing where the next pound is going to come from, or how much they are going to earn. The life of the self employed, or commission only salesman is just like that.

    It would be an interesting excercise if Ministers were to set up a typical sole trader builder business (n this instance) from scratch, with little money, and saw first hand the huge number of hoops that you are required to jump through from trying to get VAT Registered to compliance with Inland Revenue, Constuction industry monthly returns, National Insurance, Health and Safety, Money laundering (where you have to name the individual responsible for policing such within your company), Public and Employee Liability Insurance, through to Setting up Bank accounts and possible overdraft facilities. Then to get letters from the performing arts Society about playing background music in the office, CITB training board levy (based on turnover), toxic waste licence (empty paint cans and waste timber regarded as toxic waste), visits from environmental health officers, compliance with trade associations, and of course goods or services fit for purpose so that you have no problems with Trading Standards. Other hoops to jump through happen to be liason with Planning authorities and building control.
    Once all of the above are completed you can then think about earning some money after firstly promoting your goods and services at considerable cost so that you can pay rent for your premises, business rates, heat, light and power and all of the other costs associated with any business, and god forbid if you want to employ someone then of course you need to comply with employment legislation and all that it entails.

    Finally after having done all of the above, you can pay a huge percentage of your income/profit to the government in the form of tax, be it Income tax, National insurance, Vat, Corporation tax.

    Come to the UK, “We are open for business, You simply take the risk, so that we can take the money, as our need is greater than yours”.

    Politicians bye and large have not got a clue about the commercial world at the sharp end. They think they have, they think they understand, but that is the real danger, and the real problem.

    Just look at how goverment contracts for purchasing goods and services have been negotiated with commercial organisations as an example, they have been taken to the cleaners time and time again, its pathetic, its incompetance, its a scandal and we (taxpayers) pay for it.

    • lifelogic
      Posted May 31, 2011 at 9:26 pm | Permalink

      Agree with all that and much more to add too.

  13. Gary
    Posted May 31, 2011 at 9:20 am | Permalink

    The most effective deregulation that may have prevented this whole banking “too big to fail” mess would be letting bad business of all stripes fail. Nothing cures moral hazard more quickly than the threat of failure and being wiped out, including the owners. The second most important deregulation is to get govt out of business and to stop passing laws that give organisations monopoly power. The banking industry is a monopoly cartel that gets its power from the govt’s legal tender laws. The monopoly on creation of debt based fiat currency.

    These two govt failures , among many, were the key drivers that enabled the banks to threaten the global economy. Govt itself is one huge moral hazard monopoly underwritten by the taxpayer. Get govt out of business, and get govt out of other people’s business. It is useless at it. This govt , and all those before, don’t have the courage or the morality to stop interfering. Politicians, probably by definition, because they are in the business of govt ,don’t understand it or are reaping from govt involvement in business.

  14. Brigham
    Posted May 31, 2011 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    Everything we need to do, to get Britain out of the mess Labour has left, seems to be thwarted by the EU. The rules and laws that we have to put up with, that have been foisted upon us, by that corrupt organisation, are blocking our recovery. It is time to do away with, “Altering the EU from the inside” to “Letting them stew in their own juice” I see Germany is now going to do away with all their nuclear power stations. How long before this is an EU requirement? Unless there has been a breakthrough in the electrical storage field, Germany will be very short of power in the near future. Don’t let that include us!!

    • lifelogic
      Posted May 31, 2011 at 9:27 pm | Permalink

      I assume they will just import French nuclear electricity.

    • sjb
      Posted June 1, 2011 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

      The same rules and laws of the EU apply to all member states – but they do not appear to be blocking countries of the same rank as us, viz. France and Germany.

  15. D K McGregor
    Posted May 31, 2011 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    Why are you not being listened to? You have proved to be correct about the outcomes of the flawed Labour legislation and propose solutions , this must put you in a powerful position , can you explain to all who visit you here why you are ignored even by your own colleagues in cabinet.

  16. Posted May 31, 2011 at 10:24 am | Permalink

    If you look at the packaging of most toiletries, you’ll see a symbol with one cylinder on top of another. Next to it, it will say ‘6M’ or ’12M’. Because I was once involved in designing some of this packaging, I know that it is telling you to discard any unused product six or twelve months after opening.

    No one outside the business understands what this symbol means, so what is the point? If it is important to tell consumers about the shelf-life after opening, the packaging should say something like, ‘Discard six months after opening.’ If it isn’t important, it shouldn’t say anything at all. Meanwhile, government guidance includes a long discussion about how you show the expiry date on bars of soap. Bars of soap are a problem, you see, because the expiry date might wash off. Then thousands of people might die from using expired soap bars.

    It’s impossible to see how this kind of regulation might benefit anyone. It’s just bureaucracy for the sake of bureaucracy, so let’s get rid of it. Unfortunately and predictably, it comes from the EU (starting with directive 76/768/EEC) so repeal may not be as easy as you would like.

    Oh yes. In case you were wondering, one of these directives said that water is to be called ‘aqua’ when it is one of the ingredients of a household product. So if you’ve ever read the ingredients and wondered what aqua is, you are right, it’s water. And we have the EU to thank for water getting a new name.

  17. Posted May 31, 2011 at 11:58 am | Permalink

    Anyone that reads my comment on taxing the rich ,last comment before this one will see what I witnessed in the 1980’s,briefcases full of cash going out of a country with ZERO cash allowed out except for R6000 spending allowance per business trip.John is absolutely correct
    on this point. If we are all like the Mormons and keep 10% of our wealth in an armageddon
    type way ie mostly in foodstuffs,what will this great Parasite of a state do to the actual interest rate earned on this Hoard in the saving on Inflation, after all it will be Tax Free at the rate of food inflation which at the moment would be at least 8%,except that it would be hidden?
    EMPLOY AN ARMY OF INSPECTORS TO FERRET IT OUT OF PEOPLES HOMES maybe
    even CONFISCATE IT.

  18. REPay
    Posted May 31, 2011 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

    What you say makes sense. I have worked in several professions that are often the main beneficiaries of new regulations. I doubt business or their customers ever benefit much – and it is a worldwide problem (Sarbanes Oxley was a bonanza for regulatory consultants, lawyers, IT consutancies etc.)

    I am old enough to remember initiatives aimed at reducing “red tape” going back 25 years. I never recall anything much coming out. Of course, regulation is an easy way of telling the media that something is being done. The corollary is that undoing regulation is seen as weak to the statist mindset of the average Briton. I heard Ed Milliband wash his hands of the banking crisis by saying it was a market failure and nothing to do with the state. So I am ready for squeals from Labour and climb down by the Coalition if we do find anything worth doing.

  19. Ralph Corderoy
    Posted May 31, 2011 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

    The anti-money laundering regulations can be an annoying inconvenience for a new bank customer and the Payment Council‘s planned abolition of cheques by 2018 will only make this worse as cheques are often used to identify the issuer.

    As a saver chasing whatever meagre rate I can find I often open a postal or online account with an institution with which I’ve no existing business; one has to be a “new” customer to get the better rate. As part of their ID process they require the opening deposit to be by cheque, drawn on my personal current account. Without this they want all kinds of awkward paperwork, like a solicitor-verified copy of photo ID; not cheap at £5 or more a shot and not possible if you don’t drive and don’t have a passport. Attending a branch isn’t possible; they often don’t have any,
    In the case of a fixed-term account, e.g. bond, they will often only pay the closing balance back into that same account, having used the cheque as proof.

    Without a cheque I can see the common transaction of opening an account getting very awkward to the detriment of the consumer. The increased compliance cost to the bank will naturally be passed onto the consumer as well. Not that I expect this will deter the Payment Council.

    • John K
      Posted June 8, 2011 at 7:33 pm | Permalink

      A very good point. The plan to abolish cheques is another example of what Kingsley Amis called the “sod the customer” ethos in the UK. If the coalition want to earn some goodwill on the cheap they should tell the banks to forget about this, we are not all about to start paying for our sandwiches using mobile phones whilst riding log flumes, whatever the deranged megalomaniacs who run our banks think. All a cheque is, is a written instruction to your bank to pay money to a named person. By what right do the banks plan to disregard the instructions of their customers?

  20. Simon
    Posted May 31, 2011 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

    Great article J.R.

    I know several small businesses and sole traders who would love to take someone on but will not because of regulations and leaving themselves open to being taken to the cleaners by a trouble maker encouraged by no-win-no-fee parasites .

    For small businesses the burden of regulation is even more damaging than the high levels of taxation .

    Big business loves regulation because it stops the grass growing under their feet .

    European integration is a project entirely driven by big business so one would expect to see a lot of it coming from that direction .

    Duplicitous Dave and George cannot see past big business and love Europe , do they actually have any track record in opposing silly regulations ?

  21. BobE
    Posted May 31, 2011 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

    EU trucks are streaming through the port of Dover. The are undercutting our own trucks because they can fill up 25% cheaper before they come here. Match fuel tax to the rest of Europe to stop that.
    Stop the Carbon Religion. The tax on electricity to subsidise windmills is pricing it out of reach for manufacturing. The Carbon foolishness will ruin our remaining industries and everything will need to be imported.
    Cap state pensions. Set a maximum gross per annum.
    Cut public sector workers pay so none earn more that the PM.
    Put council/public sector state funded credit card statements into the public domain. If they say they were shredded ask the credit provider for details.
    Stop public servants travelling first class. Club class is good enough. (The 11 hour flight to Japan, first class, costs £7000!!
    If your party had any sense it would be able to understand these suggestions. Why don’t they try some sensible things instead of doing nothing? What happens to an MP after he is elected, is there a special operation performed to render him useless?

    • lifelogic
      Posted May 31, 2011 at 9:16 pm | Permalink

      Pretty much spot on but it is not a medical operation they are just told what to do by the party if they want to keep their seat and most do. The party is probably told what to do by the EU and the US.

      • BobE
        Posted June 1, 2011 at 12:17 am | Permalink

        So they just end up as fodder

  22. David Hepburn
    Posted May 31, 2011 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

    Dear Mr Redwood,

    This Blog of yours contains at leats three spelling mistakes! I am a fan of yours but only recently. However, this Blog is a bit below par. Are you on the ‘sauce’?

    Nevertheless, keep up the good work…

    Best regards,

    David Hepburn OBE – a born & bred Conservative (& Unionist actually – from Scotland)

  23. BobE
    Posted May 31, 2011 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

    I meant cap public sector pensions, not the state pension.

  24. David Hepburn
    Posted May 31, 2011 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    Dear Mr Redwood,

    Oh, dear! Mine also contains a spelling mistake but I seem unable to correct it. Perhaps ’tis I who is on the sauce – in Nepal.

    David Hepburn

  25. Mark Demmen
    Posted May 31, 2011 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

    Fair enough as far is it goes, Mr Redwood, but you seem to be pulling your punches. Why nothing about the Climate Change or Equality Acts? Or the abolition of the default retirement age – possibly one of the most stupid social policy decisions of recent times, with very predictable unintended consequences? Too contentious?

  26. Peter Turner
    Posted May 31, 2011 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

    That’s a major part of the problem. Unecessary and ineffective EU Regulation. We all know this and yet nothing is done about it. In regards to our own governance we badly need to simplify wherever possible. This particularly relates to our legal system. There are now so many laws that no one can observe them all and yet it is a truism that ignorance of the law is no excuse. It should be.

  27. Catherine in Athens
    Posted May 31, 2011 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

    This assumes that the sole purpose of showing our papers is to prevent money-laundering, John. I suggest that the real reason was to soften up the populace against the day that we have to have identifying microchips in our arms – for our own protection, of course…

  28. Ruth
    Posted May 31, 2011 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

    Quite right, can I suggest that a good example is the cookie law brought in last week? Thankfully the government has delayed implementation, but it’s a good example of people in the EU legislating on something they don’t understand (under pressure from so-called privacy campaigners), without evidence of the real problem, and conjuring up a “solution” which is at odds with the construction of every website in the world. There has been discussion of what would happen if companies sited their servers outside the UK and then the EU in order to avoid this law. The EU sets an excellent example of how to kill business and employment for its own population. Oh, and how to increase taxes as every government website (including those of MPs, of which this an excellent example) will have to be redesigned.

  29. lola
    Posted May 31, 2011 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

    Amen to the scrapping of AML checks on retail customers. Clearly it is ludicrous to assume that a grandmother making a modest investment is an international drug smuggler laundering a few quid. Every single person in retail FS I know knows instantly if a new client is kosher or not. If not and they decide to deal with him or her then that person is almost certainly crooked and will not be dissuaded by having to create a few fake documents, which, let’s face it, is very easy with moden IT.

  30. M
    Posted May 31, 2011 at 7:42 pm | Permalink

    John, this government needs to be very careful with its deregulatation policy. I agree with the sentiment in terms of pointless beaurocracy and red tape that slows or prevents enterprise. However I can give you several examples of regulation that has provided the incentive for enterprise to take place by providing financial intitutions with the confidence to lend to allow industry to get going, and providing the insurance industry with the confidence to underwrite the assets. This all helps industry to flourish, creates employment opportunities across a number of sectors and helps us pay for Gordon Brown’s economic incompetence. One de-regulation policy doesn’t fit all.

  31. JimF
    Posted May 31, 2011 at 10:04 pm | Permalink

    Your blog has changed, from the objective point of view of this reader/contributor.

    Originally I regarded this as a political blog, as a beacon for the leadership to follow, even if they only cherry picked the bits which were acceptable to them. At the same time, there was some hope that a bandwagon would build from the Brown disaster to the obvious alternative that you described.

    Now, I see the blog as an adjunct to the mainstream news; you magnify and illuminate areas missed by the mainstream. You highlight the risks and perils of contemporary economic policy. The problem is that through complete neglect of your ideas by the driving forces of the government, the blog has become less relevant in a political sense. It is difficult to know what will change this.

    Looking at Greece, it is clear that the wish of the political leadership is to borrow and buy from Germany in the latter’s own strong currency for as long as the lender allows this to happen. It doesn’t matter whether the state over-employs, over-regulates and over-borrows. Until or unless a day of reckoning arrives, otherwise intelligent Greeks continue to borrow and spend. They don’t even have the option of printing their own money. So how likely is it, in reality, that the UK government will take an opposite course, voluntarily decreasing state employment, regulation and so on? The backstop is always there to print Sterling and devalue. Most of the population don’t feel the slow erosion of living standards by devaluation and inflation in the same way as abrupt austerity.

    The point is that for all the sense and logic in your blog, useful in deciphering our economic direction, politically you are banging your head against a brick wall.

  32. Kawasakifreak
    Posted May 31, 2011 at 10:07 pm | Permalink

    Excellent article John – totally agree.

  33. Posted May 31, 2011 at 11:55 pm | Permalink

    Heaping on more regulation often carries with it unforeseen consequences. The danger is that more regulations are heaped onto the pile and so on

    This is the left wing disease. Eventually the regulations and ultimately the law are undermined as policing and enforcement become impossible. We end up with real laws, unworkable laws and all this is accompanied by gesture laws. We end up, like in France, picking and choosing which laws to comply with.

    As someone once said, keep it simple stupid and the world will be a better and less stupid place.

    Employment law is surely ripe for reform if we seriously want to get the country and its factories working again.

    • Posted June 2, 2011 at 8:28 am | Permalink

      if they wanted to get our economy going, yes. but they clearly don’t want to.

  34. BobE
    Posted June 1, 2011 at 12:20 am | Permalink

    People, nothing we say here is heard. Its just noise. Nobody will react. Its just a palative for us old folks.

  35. forthurst
    Posted June 1, 2011 at 12:22 am | Permalink

    The law should not penalise the ordinary citizen for the activities of the criminal classes. It is up to parliament to set the laws and penalties for transgressions and for relevant authorites to enforce them. Most of us are not money launderers so we should not be treated as though we are. I am sure the law will have been effective in causing criminals to change their modi operandi, but why inconvenience all of us in order to inconvenience crooks at the same time?

    Data Protection is an area that needs examination: individuals and companies are inconvenienced whilst those who harvest data for commercial or other purposes appear to be able to do so without interference. I recall when it first came in, that companies I was associated with were completely flumoxed by it and started applying restrictions according to the letter of the law which immediately were found practically unworkable until much of its application was quietly dropped.

    The whole area of law dealing with those who are not categorised as Christian heterosexual Englishmen and their correspondingly greater rights under the law needs serious examination. Commercially, this has been a severe problem for years. Companies should be allowed to employ who they wish and ditch poorly performing employees or those that breach trust without having a large human resources department to achieve it, or as so often happens, the necessity of creating special non-jobs so that they can warehouse token ‘minorites’ or put duds where they can’t cause damage. Companies are in business to make money and should not be viewed as branches of the social services. In any case, prejudice comes in many forms and the law appears powerless to ensure that the BBC employs people strictly on merit rather than in furtherance of its Cultural Marxist agenda.

    A further area of law that should be examined is that of thought crime; this appears to cause extreme difficulty for the police who apparently are afraid to investigate some of the most egregious crimes on account of their perpetrators’ adherence to alien religions etc. The police should be able to do their job of preventing and detectiing crime without filling in forms to prove their ‘evenhandedness’ or answer libellous criticism of their motives.Thought crime was introduced so that troublemakers could be protected from the approprium they so richly deserve and prevent us from complaiing about the destruction of our country by a tightly knit, fanatical group It means that those who draw attention to some of the must unpleasant people and their behaviours can be locked up for doing so. Thought crime is an area which causes difficulties in all forms of business, social and professional interaction and has rendered much of the democratic process ineffective. The common law is more than sufficient to protect the interests of individuals from physical aggression or the threat thereof and judges are perfectly capable of determining whether an act was provoked or not and it should be not up to an aggrieved party to determine the motivation of an alleged aggressor.

    As JR pointed out, financial regulation has been remarkably ineffective in preventing the recent turmoil in the banking system. It is quite clear that financial authorities failed to detect massive property bubbles in several countries and that is a failure in terms of the definition of inflation, but the situation has been substantially aggravated by conspiracies to commit fraud, none of which has been prosecuted. There is no point in regulation if it is toothless or poorly targeted; all that it does is give a false sense of security for an expensive and significant regulatory burden.

  36. BobE
    Posted June 1, 2011 at 12:54 am | Permalink

    John is just marking time until he can retire. Best way realy, why create a fuss. Retire on a great deal and ignore the rest.

    Reply: Not so – if I was coasting to retirement I would not be doing all this. If I had left the Conservsatives to join UKIP last year I would by now be forcefully retired! Then you would not have my voice in the Commons and you would longer be able to criticise me for failing to help the Euro cause by joining UKIP !

    • lifelogic
      Posted June 2, 2011 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

      You were right to stay put now is not the time for futile gestures.

  37. Bill
    Posted June 1, 2011 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

    Yes, regulation is a kind of mind-set. It is a job creation scheme for bureaucrats. It is now endemic within the university sector and is seen as the answer to raising standards. Regulation depends on the enforcement of procedures but no one seems to ask whether the procedures being enforced are the correct ones, nor is it clear that ‘standards’ will be raised if enforcement is extended. I can think of cases in the world of education where the procedures being put in place actually lower the value of education.

  38. Gary
    Posted June 1, 2011 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

    175 years ago, Alexis de
    Tocqueville warned that democracy
    would eventually demise into a
    “soft tyranny” in which the primary
    purpose of government would be
    to provide for the welfare of its
    citizens. He observed that the
    power of such a government is
    …absolute, minute, regular,
    provident, and mild. It would be
    like the authority
    of a parent, if, like that authority, its
    object was to prepare men for
    manhood; but
    it seeks on the contrary to keep
    them in perpetual childhood: it is
    well content
    that the people should rejoice,
    provided that they think of nothing
    but rejoicing.
    For their happiness such a
    government willingly labors, but it
    chooses to be the
    sole agent and the only arbiter of
    that happiness……It is in vain to
    summon a
    people, which has been rendered
    so dependent on the central
    power, to choose
    from time to time the
    representatives of that power; this
    rare and brief exercise of
    their free choice (voting to choose
    their leaders), however important it
    may be,
    will not prevent them from
    gradually losing the faculties of
    thinking, feeling, and
    acting for themselves …. (from
    Democracy in America)

  39. Posted June 2, 2011 at 8:18 am | Permalink

    The purpose of ‘regulation’ is to cripple enterprise. The world is controlled by large corporations who don’t desire the success of small enterprises, as their power would be reduced. Corporations are so inefficient by and large that they can only survive and keep their power by using political means to cripple opposition. That is why regulation is the primary method of crippling our economy. It’s not an error. It’s entirely deliberate.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, He graduated from Magdalen College Oxford, has a DPhil and is a fellow of All Souls College. A businessman by background, he has been a director of NM Rothschild merchant bank and chairman of a quoted industrial PLC.

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