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.