I want a “light” Queen’s speech

The more laws and bigger government brigade will be out in force this week to rubbish the Queen’s speech programme for the last year of the current Parliament. They will claim there are too few new laws. This, they say, means government has run out of ideas.

The UK does not suffer from a shortage of laws. Whatever else you might criticise about MPs in recent Parliaments, failing to pass enough laws would be an unfair complaint. We need to remember that the next session of Parliament will be considerably less than a year, running from June to March 2015 only.

Parliament has many other roles besides passing new laws. It is there to supervise the spending of large sums of public money, approving budgets, probing on value for money and priorities. It is there to cross examine Ministers on how they are using the many powers past laws have given them. It is there to debate foreign policy and our relations with overseas countries. It is there to handle our all pervasive relationship with the EU, and to seek to guide or assist Ministers in how they respond to the endless stream of new laws and initiatives coming out of Brussels. There is plenty to do without having to pass lots of new laws.

I for one think the UK and the EU between them have passed far too many laws in recent years. A period of reflection and consolidation would be welcome. Some more repeals would also help, where there are simply too many regulations in areas where individuals and businesses could be left to themselves to decide, with choice driving what people do and buy. One of the problems of our current membership of the EU is we have two governments for the price of three, with both the EU and the UK legislating on the same topic, and with the EU driving us to more legislation than we would choose for ourselves. As more and more areas come to be covered by EU law you would expect the UK need for national legislation to reduce.


  1. Brian Taylor
    June 2, 2014

    Let’s have some of the reverse of, Don’t just stand there do something.
    Who said Don’t do anything just stand there!?

    1. Leslie Singleton
      June 2, 2014

      Brian–I don’t see too much wrong with the original way of doing things when a Parliament was called when there was something that needed doing. This is the way that especially the EU should be operated. As things stand there are all these bods paid phenomenal salaries and, short of standing themselves down (unlikely), they just invent stuff for themselves to do.

  2. Lifelogic
    June 2, 2014

    “Parliament has many other roles besides passing new laws” indeed it has. It is the only mechanism that could protect the interests of the public from extortion by the state sector. It clearly fails hugely, they take nearly 50% of GDP, and deliver something worth perhaps 15% (in value of public services delivered). They are paid (with pensions included) about 150% of private sector wages to do this. The private sector often has no pensions at all.

    Few have time to read these laws anyway so they make very little difference, other than when you are fined for breaching something you did not even know about. Or for increasing the numbers of largely parasitic jobs in the legal and compliance professions.

    Radio 4’s File on four yesterday “Practices Under Pressure” was quite interesting. It showed how some GP practices “work” or perhaps fail to. It seems to involve a lot of the public “or customers” delaying going to work in order to spend a happy half hour listening to engaged tones or secretaries answering the phone and saying “we have no appointments left today”, “is it an emergency”, “I can put you on the cancellation list”, “we can perhaps fit you in in two weeks”.

    Why on earth do they not just charge £15 like hairdressers?

    Perhaps they could start by sorting out this NHS and stopping the circa 1000 a month of avoidable deaths. Did Cameron not say something about “in three letters”? Get the power and money to the patients, cut taxes and charge for it (for all who can pay). There is no area of the state sector that could not be improved hugely (many by abolition) but no one has any incentive so to do. They are largely run by the staff in the interests of the staff and open at times to suit the staff.

    1. Excalibur
      June 3, 2014

      You have a rare perception of the U.K.’s ills, Lifelogic.

    2. APL
      June 3, 2014

      Lifelogic: “Why on earth do they not just charge £15 like hairdressers?”

      One might even ask, “Why on earth can some of the highest paid ( ~£100,000 pa ) arrange their business to suit their customers?”

      Answer: Because their customer is the government, so they don’t care, what the patient thinks.

      1. APL
        June 3, 2014

        “Why on earth can some of the highest paid ( ~£100,000 pa ) not arrange their business to suit their customers?”

      2. Lifelogic
        June 3, 2014

        Indeed the customer is the government the patient is just a nuisance and expense – to be pushed away or deterred if at all possible from asking for anything.

    3. hefner
      June 3, 2014

      Just to debunk claims taken out of some hats:

      FINANCIAL YEAR £bn % of GDP
      1963-64 12.0 38.5
      1964-65 13.0 38.1
      1965-66 14.5 39.6
      1966-67 16.0 41.4
      1967-68 18.3 44.6
      1968-69 19.3 43.4
      1969-70 20.3 42.5
      1970-71 22.7 42.7
      1971-72 25.2 42.6
      1972-73 28.3 41.9
      1973-74 33.4 44.4
      1974-75 43.7 48.6
      1975-76 55.7 49.7
      1976-77 63.6 48.6
      1977-78 69.5 45.6
      1978-79 78.6 45.1
      1979-80 93.6 44.6
      1980-81 112.5 47.0
      1981-82 125.6 47.7
      1982-83 138.3 48.1
      1983-84 149.7 47.8
      1984-85 160.0 47.5
      1985-86 166.6 45.0
      1986-87 172.8 43.6
      1987-88 183.3 41.6
      1988-89 190.7 38.9
      1989-90 210.2 39.2
      1990-91 227.5 39.4
      1991-92 254.2 41.9
      1992-93 274.2 43.7
      1993-94 286.3 43.0
      1994-95 299.2 42.5
      1995-96 311.4 41.8
      1996-97 315.8 39.9
      1997-98 322.0 38.2
      1998-99 330.9 37.2
      1999-00 342.9 36.3
      2000-01 341.5 34.5
      2001-02 389.2 37.7
      2002-03 420.9 38.5
      2003-04 455.2 39.3
      2004-05 492.5 40.5
      2005-06 523.7 41.2
      2006-07 550.2 40.9
      2007-08 583.7 41.0
      2008-09 630.8 44.5
      2009-10 671.5 47.7
      2010-11 692.4 46.8
      2011-12 693.6 45.4
      2012-13 674.3 43.1
      2013-14 719.9 44.4
      2014-15 731 43.3
      2015-16 744.7 42.2
      2016-17 755.1 40.9
      2017-18 765.5 39.5
      SOURCE HM TREASURY Last years are forecasts

      1. Lifelogic
        June 3, 2014

        Indeed absurdly high and for very little in the way of valuable public services delivered. Also remember on top of the taxes they raise there is the huge administrative burden put on businesses and people. The running PAYE, VAT, pension schemes, student loans, tax returns, storing and keeping endless records, armies of lawyers and accounts, people doing stupid things for silly green and other subsidies, moving businesses pointlessly to enterprise zones, using silly tax incentives and special areas, buying silly pointless electric cars just for tax/parking breaks, sorting rubbish for often no sound environmental reasons ……

      2. Richard1
        June 3, 2014

        Interesting what this shows is how long it takes to recover from a Labour Govt (with Heath’s govt counting as effectively Labour even if nominally Tory). Labour were forced to cut spending after the IMF rescue of 1976. The Thatcher / Major govts then managed to get state spending down below 40% until the early 90s recession, and this govt will need 7 years following the ousting of Labour before state spending can again come below 40% of GDP. What we really don’t need now is another Labour govt.

      3. Lifelogic
        June 3, 2014

        20% is about right. Very easy to achieve with no real loss to the public. Just pay the state sector the same as the private (instead of 50% more), close the pointless or actually damaging departments (about half of them), stop excessive payments to the feckless, stop doing things that are far better done by the private sector, stop loans the the pigis, the green crap, HS2, leave the EU …..

    4. hefner
      June 3, 2014

      And some more information from official web sites (and not drawn from some hats). Some people would be much better off checking their sources before writing too early in the morning!



      1. Lifelogic
        June 4, 2014

        The second link does not seem to work.

        Whether you like it or not the pay (including pension benefits) of the state sector is about 150% of pay (including pension benefits) of the private sector. The figures are very clear from national statistics. They also retire earlier, take more sick days, more holidays, and work fewer and more social hours on average.

        They may however have been on far more “Equality and Diversity Awareness Training courses & Team Building exercises, Being non judgemental and the likes” so perhaps that counts as having more qualifications!

  3. Mike Stallard
    June 2, 2014

    “As more and more areas come to be covered by EU law you would expect the UK need for national legislation to reduce.”

    1. Denis Cooper
      June 2, 2014

      Well, that will depend on how much of the new EU law requires legislative action by the UK Parliament and how much entirely by-passes the UK Parliament.

      Just as it is still not widely understood that most EU decisions are now made by qualified majority voting, QMV, most national vetoes having been abolished by successive amending treaties, so it is also still not widely understood that most EU laws can by-pass Parliament altogether because they are made in the form of regulations which have direct effect and immediately become law in this country without the need for Parliament to lift a finger. If Parliament has any role in those cases it is really only to tidy away any existing UK laws which are in conflict with the new EU laws and ensure enforcement of the latter.

      It is worth repeating the carefully worded 2002 statement from the then Europe Minister and now convicted fraudster Denis MacShane:


      “The picture is complicated. Some EC measures are directly applicable in the member states. Others require incorporation into national law. This is sometimes done by legislation, but on other occasions by administrative means. In yet other situations, domestic legislation which is being amended for other purposes, may also incorporate changes to reflect EU directives. This makes it extremely difficult to determine how many legislative measures have been introduced in the UK as a result of EC measures.”

      But that complexity did not hinder him from later claiming that only 9% of our new laws derived from the EU, a variant of which false claim was duly repeated by Nick “7 percent” Clegg during his TV debates with Nigel Farage.

      1. Lifelogic
        June 2, 2014

        A similar debate with Cameron would make Cameron look ever dafter than Clegg did. In a debate, if your arguments have no merit (such as 50% of our trade, no to a Greater Switzerland, open border to all the EU, but not Australian doctors …) it is apparent to most viewers. No matter how good an advocate or bent but polished car salesman you might be.

  4. me
    June 2, 2014

    Call Me Dave will implement whatever laws his European masters tell him to.

  5. Brian Tomkinson
    June 2, 2014

    One thing is certain, the Queen’s Speech will be specifically structured and have the sole intention of enhancing the chances of re-election. The hope will be that we shall forget the unfulfilled manifesto pledges and have such short term memory that we realise just how beneficial this government is and how grateful we should be.

  6. APL
    June 2, 2014

    JR: “I want a “light” Queen’s speech”

    Out of curiosity, Mr Redwood. Does legislation originating with the European Union feature in the Queens speech?

    For example legislation implemented through statutory instruments.

    Reply Primary yes, SIs no

    1. APL
      June 2, 2014

      JR: “Primary yes, SIs no”

      So we could have not primary legislation in the QS, but still have loads of Statutory Instruments flowing through Westminster ..

      ….. with no Parliamentary scrutiny at all?

      Reply SIs may require debate and a vote, with the Opposition having the right to insist that any do.

      1. APL
        June 2, 2014

        JR: “with the Opposition having the right to insist that any do. ”

        But they usually don’t?

        Anyway, I’m indebted to Denis in an earlier post @8.51, for identifying the process that EU regulations are given force of law in the UK, as he says, completely bypassing Parliament.

  7. Iain Moore
    June 2, 2014

    I should remind you of your 2010 manifesto…..

    “Labour have refused to address the so-called
    ‘West Lothian Question’: the unfair situation
    of Scottish mPs voting on matters which
    are devolved. a Conservative government will
    introduce new rules so that legislation referring
    specifically to England, or to England and
    Wales, cannot be enacted without the consent
    of mPs representing constituencies of those

    Personally I think this is a pretty insulting fob off, but I suppose it is better than doing nothing, which, four years into this parliament is just what Cameron has done on this, nothing.

    So what is the excuse this time, why a British Government has failed to give English people equality? You have time to give homosexuals the right to marry, which don’t remember seeing in your election manifesto. You are also giving women the right to fight in the front line, something else I don’t remember seeing in your manifesto. But tokenist English devolution was, and you haven’t done didly squat. Rather than looking for a light Queen’s speech, you should be looking to ensure you fulfil your last election promises.

    If you won’t give English people token devolution because it is right, perhaps you will do it out of fear. What will happen if UKIP offer English people their own parliament ?

    Reply Conservatives do not have a majority so we need Lib Dem consent for every measure, which is not forthcoming in this instance.

    1. Brian Tomkinson
      June 2, 2014

      Reply to reply,
      Blaming the LibDems is an all too convenient excuse for so many of your party’s failings in government.

      1. Lifelogic
        June 3, 2014

        Well Dave clearly is a Libdem, just the same as Clegg on every issue, from the green crap (wind and pv subsidies), to his “heart and soul” in the EU, to high 299 tax increases, to pointless train tracks, misdirected overseas aid, soft loans to prop up the PIGIS and to the IMF, gender neutral insurance agenda and pensions drivel, pro pointless wars even, OTT employment laws ……. he is also a proven election loser – but too late to change now.

        The only difference is he has about 100 (at best) sensible back benchers slightly holding him back – but only very occasionally. On the greencrap agenda, not even that, only a tiny hand full.

        Reply Mr Cameron is no Lib Dem – he took the UK Conservatives out of the federalist grouping in the EU Parliament, he has proposed a renegotiation and referendum on the EU, has vetoed the Fiscal treaty for the UK and has demanded a lower EU budget. The Lib Dems are the federalists.

        1. Brian Tomkinson
          June 3, 2014

          Reply to reply,
          JR: ” he has proposed a renegotiation and referendum on the EU”
          Only because he was forced to by the rise of UKIP and pressure from Conservative MPs such as you. On 24 October 2011 in the House of Commons he clearly stated his opposition to an in/out referendum and enforced a 3-line whip to vote against one.

          1. Lifelogic
            June 3, 2014

            Indeed if he ever does do anything sensible the he has to be dragged into it by the sensible wing or Tory voters.

        2. Lifelogic
          June 3, 2014

          To reply: he did this only for his 100 back benchers on the sensible wing and as a sop to all the voters he kicked in the teeth with his Cast Iron Ratting and throwing of the last election. The man is the libdem, better than Clegg only because his party and 100 fairly sensible MPs. Though even they nearly all voted for the mad climate change act.

          Why did he indicate that he wanted “a woman” at the BBC trust (and why Patten before), why did he allow gender neutral insurance and pensions, why has he done nothing much on employment laws, why has he increased 299+ taxes.

          He is clearly pro EU, pro green crap, pro big government, pro ever more regulation. Is that not Libdem?

    2. Iain Moore
      June 2, 2014

      I don’t believe that is an argument that stands up to scrutiny. The Libdem 2010 manifesto states…

      ‘Address the status of England in a federal Britain through a constitutional convention’.

      If Cameron had stood up and made an argument for English people’s constitutional equality he would have blown any Libdem’s objections off the park. Trouble is Cameron hasn’t ever bother to make English people’s rights an issue, even when he was facing Gordon Brown over the Dispatch box , and Gordon Brown was setting policy in English departments of state, Cameron had nothing to say. Well that isn’t quite correct, Cameron did go off to make a speech in Glasgow to call us ‘Sour faced little Englanders’ !

      The Cameron Conservatives are using perceived Libdem objections to giving English people constitutional equality as an excuse for doing nothing. Be honest about it, the Cameron Conservatives do not wish English people to have equality. They despise us, and it would be fair to say this is the collective attitude of the British establishment.

      I noted an analysis of the EU elections on BBC Parliament, here Vernon Bogdanor pointed out one of the reasons why UKIP were doing well, which was the British people were rejecting the British political establishment’s group think on such matters such as EU, immigration, Aid, Climate change, he also also included an English Parliament.

      So lets cut the bullsh1t of we can’t do it because little Cleggy won’t let us. You are all using each other as an excuse for not giving English people Constitutional equality. Be honest about it, none of you lot in the British political establishment want to allow English people equal constitutional rights.

    3. Mark B
      June 2, 2014

      Reply to reply

      Did not the Conservative Party make, and sign, a coalition agreement with the Lib Dems prior to taking office ?

      If the Lib Dems agreed to something, they should be compelled to honour it. Either that, or leave the coalition.

      If something was not agreed, you have no complaints.

      I might add at this point, that no one in the country, post 2010 GE, ever got say over what the coalition agreed upon. Therefore, in my view, you have never had a mandate to govern this country anyway.

  8. Alan Wheatley
    June 2, 2014


    As to there being too much government and the associated costs, you could also include that we have added the devolved authorities in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland without, as far as I can tell, reducing the activity and costs of the Parliament at Westminster.

  9. oldtimer
    June 2, 2014

    What Parliament has failed to do is scrutinise all the directives and regulations that have emanated from Brussels before they are implemented here.

    1. Denis Cooper
      June 2, 2014

      Well, that is not really true, they do get scrutinised. But as they can’t be changed once they have been made in Brussels there is limited point in doing that unless the members of Parliament in both Houses remember that it is still a sovereign Parliament and are willing to reject or disapply EU laws which are flawed.

      Which is what the European Scrutiny Committee recommended in a report last November, as JR discussed here:


      “The European Scrutiny Committee of the Commons, a cross party body, has just produced an excellent report. They recommend that the government restores the veto over all current and future EU laws.”

      1. Duyfken
        June 2, 2014

        And I recall my making the following comment:

        “Slightly differently, I suggest that as a default position, no future laws or directives emanating from the EU should be applied in the UK until and unless the UK parliament has specifically agreed to each one of these. Unnecessary then to have a veto and, with the welter of EU-promoted laws having to be debated in parliament, both MPs and the general public could more readily appreciate, or rather deprecate, the degree to which Brussels tries to control us in every nit-picking detail.”

        Opt in (or not), not opt out.

        1. Denis Cooper
          June 3, 2014

          Yes, that would be a good idea.

  10. Roger Farmer
    June 2, 2014

    Yes there is too much Law. We need a bonfire of legislation and when it has got going why not throw on those ever proliferating quangos for a real November the 5th moment.
    As a large proportion of it originates in Brussels this is an area to deal with first.
    Call me Dave is supposed to have a shopping list of opt outs he would like from Brussels. It is long overdue that this list is made public and then those better informed than me can define what we are going to remain opted into. We will then know what Dave likes about the EU. I see this as a very weak negotiating strategy, akin to the last government’s negotiation with GPs but much more serious.
    I have no crystal ball, but I would not be surprised if a reduced Conservative party found themselves in a coalition with UKIP after the next election. This I see as the only gateway to a serious confrontation with the EU. By serious I mean invoking Article 50 and then negotiating from a position of real strength. We can then tell the EU what we like about them, where we think it of mutual benefit to cooperate etc. Trade will continue unabated because the EU has more to lose than we do.
    In the eyes of the Brussels bureaucrat this will be taken seriously because it is not just the UK adjusting it’s relationship, it is the potential domino effect it could have among remaining members. After the recent EU elections it is obvious that the peoples of many other member states are far from happy with the status quo.
    My scenario will not occur with a majority Conservative government after 2015 because call me Dave would think he had been vindicated in his Europhile stance and any re-negotiation he offered would be as worthless as that bit of paper Neville Chamberlin brought back from Berlin.

    Reply Current polling for 2015 shows UKIP winning no seats, so it is difficult to foresee a UKIP/Conservative coalition. If UKIP gets say 15% of the vote that according to the pollsters produces a Labour government with a majority.

    1. Richard1
      June 2, 2014

      It will be a great pity if Eurosceptics vote UKIP in the general election in the hope of UKIP holding the balance of power. By far the most likely result from voting UKIP is a Labour govt -perhaps Labour-LibDem, which would be the same thing.

      1. Lifelogic
        June 3, 2014

        True but better than watching Cameron kick his supporters in the teeth again as he very clearly will, given the chance.

    2. Roger Farmer
      June 2, 2014

      As I said, I have no crystal ball so your judgement may be correct. Was it Harold Wilson who said a week is a long time in politics. If true then ten months is an era. Lets see how it develops. For sure if the electorate read it differently then we could end up with Milliband. You undoubtedly want an outright Conservative victory, but on Dave’s track record I doubt you would get what you want. I would absolutely not get what I wanted.

  11. Bert Young
    June 2, 2014

    The laws we make by ourselves voted on by those we elect are one thing , the laws that are made by those we do not elect are another . The EU has played an over dominant role in our lives reaching the point that it makes a nonsense of whether there is any point in our having our own legislation . Criminals and hate mongers we wish to get rid of are still here – enjoying benefit support , the evil influence of immigration is an enormous “cost” and impediment to the British character and way of life , idiotic controls over our energy priorities and , the unnecessary need to look over our shoulders before we move are a few examples of why we should exit the EU and get on with managing our own affairs . A firm hand at the tiller is what is needed to keep our boat heading in the right direction .

    1. Mark B
      June 2, 2014

      Yes, you have made some good points but, who gave the EU the right to make laws for and on our behalf ? Only, I do not seem to remember ‘ever’ being asked this question, although we were promised a referendum over the Lisbon Treaty which I am still waiting for.

      And not forgetting. We have been offered, by the Conservative Party, a referendum sometime in 2017, probably when they hold the Presidency of the Council of Europe (citation needed). This of course depends on them not only getting elected, but getting elected with a working majority. I wonder, what are their chances, given that they could not beat the last lot ?

      1. Lifelogic
        June 3, 2014

        “This of course depends on them not only getting elected, but getting elected with a working majority.”

        Not only that it depends on Cameron not ratting again and the Ken Clark wing not breaking away and defying the leadership.

        Even then the BBC, CBI, EU, the governments, quango’s, charities, large businesses ….. will all be dripping the country in pro EU propaganda.

  12. Stuart Crow
    June 2, 2014

    Noting that corruption in football is on the increase and accountability on the decrease, how about DCMS following up the excellent work of the Select Committee and bringing forward a bill to reform the governance of the game? It was in the coalition agreement, we have done nothing about it so far, and at worst it should be something we pledge ourselves to further under a standalone Tory government in the next Parliament.

  13. Bill
    June 2, 2014

    The Conservatives surely need to do whatever it takes to be elected next time with a working majority. It would be helpful if an agenda could be mapped out that showed how we would proceed once changes have been made to our relationship with the EU. I can see, John, that you are thinking ahead on this issue with your push for freedom.

    I know that ‘politics is the art of the possible’ but Gladstone said ‘Nothing is achieved in politics without passion’.

    1. Lifelogic
      June 3, 2014

      Cameron has no passion or vision at all. A career politician, say one thing do the opposite, PR spin, endless distraction gimmicks, come dodgy photocopier salesman.

  14. Martin Ryder
    June 2, 2014

    I would like Her Majesty to commence her speech with ‘I have given my approval to: the ending of the Coalition, the Conservatives becoming the Government; the Liberal non-Democrats moving to the opposition benches and the government placing before the House the measures in their 2010 Manifesto that have not been permitted by the Liberals, such as the revision of constituency boundaries.’

    If these measures are passed or rejected by the House then the electorate will know who wants to do what. I am aware that there is absolutely no chance that your dear leader would countenance anything like this but it is what I would like to see.

    1. Bill
      June 2, 2014

      You could imagine Disraeli doing it!

  15. Denis Cooper
    June 2, 2014

    As the Queen’s Speech is about government Bills the Liberal Democrats are allowed a veto over the inclusion of proposals which would be welcomed by many people across the country, and which the Conservatives themselves might wish to put forward.

    Maybe that made some kind of sense when the coalition government was first formed after the 2010 general election, when it could be argued that the Liberal Democrat party should be treated as more or less an equal partner in government on the basis of the 24% support it had got from those who had voted, of course less than the 37% support for the Conservatives but still substantial.

    Now that support for the Liberal Democrat party has collapsed by two thirds to about 8% that kind of argument can no longer hold; if before it was the tail wagging the dog it is now the severely docked tail wagging the dog.

    In the interests of dispassionate impartial commentary I note that the Electoral Calculus site has just updated its opinion poll charts, here:


    and there are several interesting conclusions to be drawn from those charts by those who view them with a seeing eye.

    1. Mark B
      June 2, 2014

      Thank you, Dennis.

      I see that the Labour Party is decreasing more rapidly, and over a longer period of time, whilst the Conservative Party, whilst diminishing, is not going to go pop anytime soon. The Lib Dems seemed to have lost a great deal of support early on, probably due to dropping their policies in favour of power – a lesson to all, me thinks.

      I’d like to add more, but rules are rules.

    2. Lifelogic
      June 3, 2014

      Indeed the Tories have no chance whatsoever of an overall majority without a UKIP deal, alas Cameron is a Libdem and will not do one and could not be trusted even if he did.

      Reply Nonsense on both counts

  16. Sean O'Hare
    June 2, 2014

    I would like to see one new act of Parliament. It should be called “The Article 50 TEU Invocation Act 2014”. Unfortunately that is about as likely as flying pigs.

  17. acorn
    June 2, 2014

    Delegating everything to Quangos and Ministries and letting them run amok with 90,281 bits of Secondary Legislation (SI); makes you think we don’t really need 650 MPs. Why not just get the EU to pass new rules and regulations directly to Whitehall and cut out the cost of those 650 MPs.

    “The process of delegation has become increasingly common over time for various reasons such as blame shifting or less dire goals such as the effective administration of government. In this way, bureaucrats are often told to serve the public and act as the contact point for communication between the government and the public.

    This relationship can have significant results on bureaucratic activities and the resulting policies with some of the most successful examples of effective lobbying occurring between the bureaucracy and the actors it was told to serve.

    Delegation in the UK has also taken another turn with the responsibility for implementing EU legislation, namely EU directives, first falling at the feet of the bureaucracy with the European Communities Acts 1972. This act both gave the bureaucracy the authority and the obligation to implement EU policy without the need to confer with elected officials.

    The relationship between the government and the bureaucracy as well the delegated responsibilities given to the bureaucracy implies that the make-up of the bureaucratic agenda, even if it is only control by other actors, is far more complex than many principal-agent models would suggest, given the long term trend of single party government in the UK. After all, while the interests of each of the government, the public and the EU can and often do align a degree of disagreement always exists.”

    Google: “Bureaucratic Responsiveness: The Effects of Government, Public and European Attention on the UK Bureaucracy”.

  18. Dan H.
    June 2, 2014

    I am reminded of the efforts of the BSD UNIX project of recent years. A major problem with computer operating systems is mistakes and bugs in the kernel code-base. The BSD people therefore took a very simple approach to this problem: go through the kernel and get rid of as much unnecessary code as possible. The less code, the simpler the kernel, the fewer bugs and the greater the ease of finding them.

    This is an approach that needs taking with UK law, especially what one would term the working end of the law. Much of this has evolved or accumulated slowly, over a period of centuries without any real thought as to what the actual intent of the taxation actually was, nor much thought as to why so much tax was needed in the first place.

    These questions need asking. For instance, is tax there to modify the behaviour of the population (in which case, why do politicians think that we want to make very rich people work out how to dodge the iniquitously high supertaxes?), or is it merely a way to fund things that the government wants doing?

    If tax is there just to fund government, then we must look at what government is most efficient at doing, and wherever it is not efficient at doing something, stop it doing that thing forthwith. We need, desperately, a code review of the laws of this country and we need it doing without a mad, code-generating monster frantically making the problem worse at every turn (i.e. the use of the Statutory Instrument ought to be curtailed severely, starting with the EU one).

    1. Mike Wilson
      June 2, 2014

      This ‘going through the statute book, simplifying it and repealing out of date or duplicated laws etc.’ was promised before the last election. As was a bonfire of the QUANGOS. Like so many election promises, it has not materialized.

      The tax code has increased a lot too – when simplification was promised.

      Hmm, the mainstream political parties are promising to keep us in the EU – maybe the opposite will happen!

    2. Mark B
      June 2, 2014

      The primary purpose of any Government, is to protect the safety and security of the Realm / State, from both internal and external enemies.

      And we are cutting our armed forces whilst sending millions to countries with Nuclear armaments and space programs.

  19. Mike Wilson
    June 2, 2014

    Am I hallucinating? I seem to remember a ‘2 for 1’ pledge before the last election. For every new law passed, two would be repealed. Am I right? Not imagining it?

    Have the government stuck to that pledge?

    Reply I believe they have stuck to the 1 for 2 pledge for regulations, but it did not of course include EU regulations which no single national government can control.

  20. Mike Wilson
    June 2, 2014

    Talking about laws, I wonder what the government of which you are a member, Mr. Redwood, is doing about the breach of electoral law alleged in Tower Hamlets?

    1. Brian Tomkinson
      June 2, 2014

      I think that the absence of an answer to your reasonable question is exactly what we can expect from the government – nothing!

  21. Mark B
    June 2, 2014

    I’d doubt it will be long and have anything of substance. This is because most of our laws are created by the EU and bypass Parliament by way of Statutory Instruments.

    Reply They are all approved by Parliament, but often this opposition does not require a debate and a vote, and rarely does the opposition oppose any of them. There is also the issue that if Parliament did vote one down, it would still be an EU requirement to implement it. UK governments call take the view in office that it is their duty to enact EU wishes in accordance with the will of Parliament and people as expressed by the 1972 Act and the 1975 referendum. That is why some of us want a rethink.

    1. Denis Cooper
      June 2, 2014

      Well, if they are EU regulations they don’t need to be approved by Parliament or any other national authority:


      “What are EU regulations?

      Regulations are the most direct form of EU law – as soon as they are passed, they have binding legal force throughout every Member State, on a par with national laws. National governments do not have to take action themselves to implement EU regulations.

      They are different from directives, which are addressed to national authorities, who must then take action to make them part of national law, and decisions, which apply in specific cases only, involving particular authorities or individuals.

      Regulations are passed either jointly by the EU Council and European Parliament, and by the Commission alone.”

      And I don’t think they are all approved by Parliament, some would be put into effect by “administrative means”, as Denis MacShane put it.

      The same would be true for some measures of purely domestic origin, because if at some point Parliament has allowed a minister or somebody else discretion to make regulations or rules for a certain purpose then that would normally be done without reference back to Parliament; however if that discretion was abused for a purely domestic matter then Parliament could intervene, which it cannot do for EU laws without breaking the EU treaties.

      Reply I often use the generic word regulations to cover both EU Regulations (directly acting) and EU Directives, instructions to national Parliaments to enact regulations domestically to a prescribed formula. All these directives need UK Parliamentary approval for the resulting SI or Act.

      1. Denis Cooper
        June 3, 2014

        Well, I’m not sure that’s necessarily true even for directives.

        We have a complex tiered administrative system whereby ministers and officials in numerous state bodies have been entrusted with discretionary power to make rules that have the force of law, and while ultimately their authority can indeed be traced back to Parliament they don’t necessarily have to refer back to Parliament for each of their rules to be confirmed even by secondary legislation.

        So if one of those people is informed of a new EU law which impinges on a rule that they have made previously they will change that rule to comply with the new EU law, and nobody in Parliament will even know about that implementation of EU law by “administrative means”, let alone any pay any attention to it unless something goes badly wrong as a result.

        And isn’t that what Parliament agreed would happen, when it foolishly passed Section 2(1) of the European Communities Act 1972?


        “All such rights, powers, liabilities, obligations and restrictions from time to time created or arising by or under the Treaties, and all such remedies and procedures from time to time provided for by or under the Treaties, as in accordance with the Treaties are without further enactment to be given legal effect or used in the United Kingdom shall be recognised and available in law, and be enforced, allowed and followed accordingly; and the expression “enforceable Community right ” and similar expressions shall be read as referring to one to which this subsection applies.”

    2. Narrow shoulders
      June 3, 2014

      Reply to reply

      Mr Redwood you place a large burden of responsibility on the Opposition. Surely if Parliament is scrutinising EU law and not legislation introduced by your own party then you may oppose and scrutinise it as an MP. Are you saying you are whipped on EU law? If so then your government is merely a vessel for the EU.

      Reply The Opposition has to demand a debate on an SI for there to be one. An individual MP does not have the same standing as the whole Opposition in these matters of what business the House discusses.

      1. Narrow Shoulders
        June 3, 2014

        Thank you – can the government not instigate a discussion on an SI or is it deemed to have accepted any SIs that come down from Brussels?

        Reply By definition the government drafts and proposes the SI. The government is obliged to implement what has been agreed in brussels, even where it lost the vote.

    3. matthu
      June 3, 2014

      UK governments all take the view in office that it is their duty to enact EU wishes in accordance with the will of Parliament and people as expressed by the 1972 Act and the 1975 referendum.

      So it was a Conservative PM, Edward Heath, who in 1972 gave away supremacy over British law to the EU and this situation has been allowed to persist simply because successive governments have allowed it.

      For example, we have a Conservative led government who JR admits cannot be bothered even to scrutinise EU law to decide whether this situation should be allowed to continue because they are supremely comfortable with unelected EU bureaucrats laying down our law.

      In essence successive governments are happy with the status quo and should be directly blamed for so much crap regulation emanating from the EU.

      Reply Not what I wrote! A Conservative led government considers each EU proposal very carefully and seeks to negotiate a decent answer. However, if it loses the argument in Brussels it has to implement a Directive it does not want in accordance with Treaty obligations laid down in the 1972 Act and confirmed by the referendum of 1975

      1. matthu
        June 3, 2014

        Thank you for the clarification, John.

        However, since EU laws are promulgated behind closed doors by unelected bureaucrats and since negotiations are almost without exception conducted out of the glare of media publicity, the only way that the electorate gets to find out what is going on is if the whole matter is debated in the House of Commons.

        It seems to me that if there are parts of a directive that have been opposed by the democratically elected government of the UK and subsequently not debated in the House despite the government having tried and failed to negotiate its defeat in the EU, then this is a total derogation of democracy, and not one that the electorate OR members of parliament should tolerate.

        In the absence of any debate in the house, the electorate must be able to assume that both the government and the opposition support the directive.

        Reply But they do – that’s the system. When a UK government loses its case in Brussels it is bound by the Treaties to implement the measure and therefore has to support it.

  22. Brian Tomkinson
    June 2, 2014

    JR: “That is why some of us want a rethink.”
    That is why some of us want to leave the EU and become a self-governing country once more.

  23. Max Dunbar
    June 2, 2014

    If you take the view that the devolved assemblies are not governments, then your statement that we have ‘two governments for the price of three’ is right, but as the Scottish Executive has promoted itself to ‘government’ does this still hold true?

    I as a Scot, would like the SNP dominated parliament abolished as soon as possible by any means. Also, the building has no architectural merit and is an eyesore and shameful reminder of how incompetently our country has been managed. Demolish it and grub out every last vestige of its foundations. Then pass an act to repeal all legislation that this dreadful collection of MSPs have enacted.
    This wish may sound far-fetched and probably is, but one can only hope that we will live to see the day when this great nation of ours is fully re-united under strong and uncorrupted leadership.

  24. Stephen Berry
    June 2, 2014

    Would that every Queen’s Speech were ‘light’ or even non-existent.

    If a political party would campaign for election on the platform that it would dedicate itself only to repealing past legislation, it would immediately get my vote. The vast majority of government legislation, whether it comes from London or Brussels, has been damaging to economic growth and should be got rid of.

    Employment legislation raises the costs of hiring people and increases unemployment. It’s bad in the UK and even worse in places like Italy and Spain. What is required is a revival of the idea of freedom of contract. Workers and employers freely come to an agreement about the conditions of a particular employment and this should be no business of the government. Rent control was another area where the government unfortunately got involved and it was the dismantling of this legislation in the 1980s which has revived the rented sector in this country. I could go on.

    John, correctly says that Parliament “is there to supervise the spending of large sums of public money, approving budgets, probing on value for money and priorities.” But how successful is Parliament in this function? The truth is that large sums of money are handed out to government bodies and much of this will be wasted. I have lost count of the number of Ministry of Defence weapons systems which have gone over budget or simply been cancelled in the last 50 years. Parliament then produces a report detailing the mistakes and waste, but what is really learned? A few years later, we go through the process all over again. Waste and failure is endemic in government.

    Somehow we have to get to a situation where government is as small as possible and Parliament meets as infrequently as possible. Inevitably, this would mean government carrying out certain basic functions and little else. The executive, like a mediaeval king, would only call Parliament when it needed more money. But generally, things would happily tick along with the executive doing nothing very much and Parliamentarians tending their gardens and contemplating their navels.

  25. zorro
    June 2, 2014

    I am not a UKIP member, but if the Electoral Calculus system is correct, it must surely be the deathknell of the FPTP system as it will show the gross disrespect for popular votes in the seat allocation….. It is saying that there is no choice even if you exercise it in the governance of your country.

    CON 31.97% 257 seats
    LAB 34.33% 339 seats
    LIB 8.39% 18 seats
    UKIP 15.73% 0 seats
    NAT 3.16% 17 seats
    MIN 6.42% 19 seats


  26. Trumpeter Lanfried
    June 2, 2014

    Not only are there two many laws, they are often very poorly drafted. This applies especially to Statutory Instruments which are often prepared ‘in house’ i.e. by the relevant government department rather than the Parliamentary draftsmen. The Court of Appeal has recently drawn attention to this problem in forthright terms but to little effect.

  27. Kenneth
    June 2, 2014

    I think it is a grave error for any government to pass too many laws.

    Laws should be reflective of the morality of our times and the absolute values of all time. They should be intuitive, giving weight to the view that ‘ignorance of the law is no excuse’.

    When laws start to be complicated or prescriptive or are not enforceable they become ‘gesture laws’.

    When this happens, all laws are undermined.

    I believe in free markets, backed by the rule of law. I believe in simple and transparent justice.

    All these are undermined by gesture laws so favoured by the French and some other continental nations, and the by eu.

    We also have some home grown absurdities that resulted in the arrest the other week of an election candidate who did nothing more than quote from a Churchill speech. We also have a ridiculous anti-bribery law that attempts to modify the behaviour of companies in other jurisdictions.

    When election candidates are arrested for vindictive reasons or our companies are prevented from earning money from vital exports, we are slowly killing off our ability to maintain a democratic, healthy, wealthy and law-abiding society.

    We need a Parliament that has the mandate and the will to strike out these damaging laws. We also need to remove ourselves from the eu urgently.

  28. David McDonagh
    June 3, 2014

    I agree with Stephen Berry that the less government we have the better as all political activity reduces liberal and is also wasteful, being what the Game theorists call a negative sum game where both sides lose. Hobbes got it exactly wrong in seeing anarchy as a war of all against all with the state ending it for the fact is that it is politics that is always cold war and to vote is to vote against other people. Trade is the opposite of war, not politics for politics court war. The EU, or its forerunner, always was the idea of a super-state that might take on the late USSR or the USA. It was the insight that it might be more powerful than the two big rivals that motivated it not the peace in Europe that it pretended to be about.

    John Locke was incoherent with his idea of permission for government, even if it was a civilising error. Democracy is as illiberal as any other form of government but it does allow us to ponder over what we are about. And we can use it to negate the negation or to “roll back the state” as Mrs T used to say.

  29. Robert Taggart
    June 3, 2014

    Flummery – pure and simple – but at least it now takes place during the ‘tourist season’ !

    Should ‘the mother of parliaments’ care to take money saving advice seriously…

    Now that Blighty has fixed five year parliaments (a good move methinks) – perhaps we should have fixed five yearly Queen’s Speeches ?
    Within a month of the general election result – the monarch will announce to the new parliament (and the country) – the new governments plans for the next five years.
    Furthermore, in the interest of equality – this ‘show’ should take place in Westminster Hall – into which all ‘Commoners’ (all 600 that should be !) and all Peers (600 maximum) – could comfortably sit.

  30. margaret brandreth-j
    June 4, 2014

    Nothing unexpected in the Queens speech. Help with children.s nursery fees would be welcome to many.

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