We are drowning in so much regulation


                  Yesterday the Minister for Europe told the Commons that the EU is going our way. He believes that EU Ministers generally now understand that too much law and regulation is holding back enterprise and job creation across the continent. He looks forward to a rosy future, where the advantages of a common market outweigh the disadvantages of all that EU regulation, as the EU awakens from its lawmaking nightmares and grows up believing in freedom.

              I disagreed with him. Even if more ministers do now think as he says, they have not told their officials, or if they have told their officials, the officials have no intention of implementing their views. The EU is in regulatory and lawmaking overdrive. The pace and volume of financial servioe and banking regulation is  ferocious. The new work on economic governance and surveillance is intrusive. The criminal justice bandwaggon rolls on.

             I had a bad day yesterday. In the morning I was required for one of many Statutory Instrument Committees. Most detailed UK law now takes the form of a Statutory Instrument. The Act of Parliament which we spend a lot of time over is usually lacking detail. The detail, the things that really bite, comes in  the SIs which follow. These only get a maximum of 90 minutes debate. There can be a single vote on a take it or leave it basis. There is no opportunity to amend or improve.

               Yesterday 18 MPs were invited to approve 67 pages of regulation called  “The Investment Bank Special Administration Regulations 2011” and  three pages of “The Investment Bank (Amendment of definition) Order 2011”. Most MPs like new regulations, so  there was no question of the Opposition opposing these.  One backbench Conservative member, Adfam Afriyie, asked good questions about why suppliers to bankrupt Investment banks under these new regulations would  be required to carry on supplying  if the Adminsitrator told them to. The Opposition asked a few intelliegent questions. After 37 minutes another 70 pages of regulation was safely on the Statute book.

         Was I happy with it?  No I wasn’t.  Why didn’t I take them through the regulation with a fine tootth comb? Because there was no point. The SI could not be amended, and was clearly going to pass. When I have done so in the past nothing has been changed or improved.

                These particular regulations are not that harmful, as I doubt they will ever be used. There is no immediate prospect of an Investment bank needing Administration. The Minister told us that the EU was currently crawling all over this field. Doutbless in a year or two we will need to approve a new SI which matches the EU’s requirements in  this area. In the meantime, this Regulation was made out to give the FSA cosniderable duties in the event of a financially challenged Investment Bank. That too will have to change soon when the FSA is abolished and the Bank of England is left as sole regulator in this area. The Bank  may have second thoughts as it gets into its stride.

                  This SI like many of the modern breed confers very wide ranging powers. A bank can be put into special adminsitration for the old fashioned  reason that it is “unable to pay its debts”. I t can also now  be put into administration  because it is “fair” to do so, or because it is “expedient in the public interest to do so”.

                      Parliament needs a new way of handling this rash of law. Some of us are pressing for SIs to be subject to amendment and proper debate. Until they are, regulating is just too easy. Too many EU politicians are in love with it.  You will rarely read about any of this voluminous lawmaking in the papers or hear anyone criticise it on the BBC. Individual regulations have many parents and few critics. In many cases regulations fail to enforce their stated purpose, and in the worst cases do the opposite of what they wish to achieve.

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  1. lifelogic
    Posted February 2, 2011 at 7:37 am | Permalink

    And this is called a democracy just because citizens have a single vote (every five years for an MP loyal mainly to his party anyway on a huge mix of issues) and who cannot even actually amend these endless EU inspired SI’s anyway. SI’s which almost no one has the time to read let alone act upon. Until they find they are being prosecuted for having contravened them.

    JR please could you address again the huge issue of the Public Sector Pensions Liabilities often reported at up to 2-3 trillion and growing rapidly with inflation and increasing longevity. It does not seem reasonable that private sector households, often with little or no pension provision themselves should have to pay taxes (perhaps up to £80-120,000 per household) to fund the retirements of far better off public sector workers.

    How do you see the actual figures for state and private sector pension provision and any sensible resolution of this huge issue?

    Reply: I can do so -we are all waiting for the Hutton Report into how tocut the costs of public sector pensions.

    • Simon
      Posted February 2, 2011 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

      John/Lifelogic .

      I will be very surprised if Lord Hutton’s report ensures that pension contributions from employee and employer (taxpayer) rise upfront and that the growth rate for notionally invested public sector pensions is reduced from inflation + 3.5% to the risk free rate of inflation +1.25% so that these pensions are truly funded .

      If Lord Huttons remit does not extend to considering the problem of lack of availability of good pensions to people working in the private sector then it is too narrow and the result will just be a stop gap rather than a proper solution .

      Clearly the only fair outcome is for public sector pensions to be scrapped and replaced with a universal scheme open to everyone .

      Public sector pensions liabilities are at least known .

      A far far bigger problem is that 75% of the private sector have no proper savings or pensions for their old age so will be dependent on benefits when they are no longer able to work .

  2. Stuart Fairney
    Posted February 2, 2011 at 7:41 am | Permalink

    I saw the debate on Parliament TV and your intervention. I sympathise greatly.

    Perhaps the worst of this lot (in a crowded field) is giving administrators statutory powers to put an otherwise solvent business into administration. The potential misuse of this power is very troubling indeed. The Europe minister rather reminded me of the late and much lamented Alan Clarke and his diary comments from the early 1980’s (ie reading a brief he did not fully understand, agree with or had much troubled to read).

  3. Steve Cox
    Posted February 2, 2011 at 7:55 am | Permalink

    Perhaps my memory is playing tricks on me, but in the nascent days of the Coalition didn’t either Mr. Cameron or Mr. Clegg promise us that for every new law enacted an old one will be repealed? I don’t suppose that would apply to regulatory matters or SI’s anyway. How much did Tolley’s Tax Guide increase under Labour – didn’t it more than double in size, by something like 6000 pages? Perhaps Paddy Power will offer odds on how big Tolley’s will be by 2015? 🙂

    As for regulations being approved with such wide-ranging powers as being able to put banks into administration because it is “fair” to do so, or because it is “expedient in the public interest to do so”, well that is simply scary. When things are left so open-ended, why even bother with the pretence of democratic scrutiny by MP’s?

    Reply: The one for one is meant to apply to SIs – but we were not offered two out yesterday at the same time!

    • Steve Cox
      Posted February 2, 2011 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for the response. I’m glad to see I’m not as senile as I sometimes think. 😉 Has the one for one idea been ditched, or was this just a special case?

    • zorro
      Posted February 2, 2011 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

      ‘fair’….’expedient in the public interest to do so’….nothing more than authoritarian socialism.


  4. lojolondon
    Posted February 2, 2011 at 7:58 am | Permalink

    The only way is the Conservative policy – leave the EU, be in Europe but not ruled by Europe. There is nothing good about the EU. Let’s leave tomorrow and save £48m per day!

    • backofanenvelope
      Posted February 2, 2011 at 9:59 am | Permalink

      This was William Hague’s best idea ever. In Europe but not run by Europe. Shame he didn’t stick to it.

    • zorro
      Posted February 2, 2011 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

      The trouble is that it’s not Tory policy….


  5. Javelin
    Posted February 2, 2011 at 8:14 am | Permalink

    The Daily Mail today is running a story that Cameron is giving Parliament the opportunity to assert it’s sovereignty over the EU with a free vote on prisoners votes. It’s similar to the “bent cucumber” vote I suggested last week.

    I hope the British people let their views be known to their MPs.

    Reply: The prisoner vote is not about the EU – it is about the European Court of Human Rights, a different body.

    • Javelin
      Posted February 2, 2011 at 8:40 am | Permalink

      With terrorists in advanced planning of dirty bombs, according to Wikileaks, then I would suggest Cameron starts to look at have a replacement for the Human Rights Act in reserve. Specifically he would need to be able to have laws that allow him to generalise, hold without trial etc. He needs to ask the security services what they need.

      Generalise means to suspect specific groups of people – and not just individuals. I know we have all been programmed not to generalise by race etc, but if we need to screen (particular limited groups-ed) to protect the population then this bellowed allowed.

    • backofanenvelope
      Posted February 2, 2011 at 10:00 am | Permalink

      It doesn’t really matter it’s not about the EU. Its a chance for you lot at Westminster to stand up and say b****r off. Should lighten up February a lot.

      • BobE
        Posted February 2, 2011 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

        Totally agree. I will be very interested in the votes on this one. Is it the first free vote of this Parliment.
        Is Dave learning? I do so hope so.
        Region 6,

    • lifelogic
      Posted February 2, 2011 at 10:56 am | Permalink

      Is there any real harm in letting prisoners vote. It is very unlikely to make any difference anyway and if it helps with getting MP’s into prisons and with rehabilitation why not.

      But surely it should be for the UK to decide not the European Court of Human Rights to decide with the risk of huge claims from prisoners hanging over them.

      Why are these claims large anyway? The prisoners only losses are just a largely valueless vote anyway. It would be interesting to see how the court valued it, after all it has almost no effect on anything.

      • BobE
        Posted February 2, 2011 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

        What constiuancy would they vote in? Their home or the location of the prison. ? Very complicated and expensive to impliment.
        Region 6

        • alan jutson
          Posted February 3, 2011 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

          Bob E

          Very simple, the prison population numbers about 80,00 so we are informed, which as it happens is about the size of a normal constituancy.

          Can I suggest we have a prisoners candidate, after all there will soon be a number of ex Mp’s behind bars who know the ropes..

  6. lifelogic
    Posted February 2, 2011 at 8:25 am | Permalink

    Within the EU we have a system of government which is powerless to reduce red tape and regulations even if they wanted to. How is the coalition going to address this problem?
    Will they just continue to pretend they are cutting regulations and creating a pro growth, pro business environment while actually doing the complete opposite do you think?

    Businesses will not be fooled they will like Pfizer just go taking the jobs and capital with them.

    • lifelogic
      Posted February 2, 2011 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

      and perhaps HSBC is going to follow Pfizer too I read in the FT.

  7. Peter van Leeuwen
    Posted February 2, 2011 at 8:32 am | Permalink

    Earlier effective regulation could have prevented the scale of the financial crisis, but “deregulation”was the popular policy at the time, right? The current catching up seems inevitable to me.
    I just wondered whether post-Lisbon (yellow card procedures?) there is now intrinsically more involvement (work to do) in national parliaments?

    Reply:There was large expansion of financial regulation prior to the Crash – it just happened to regulate the wrong things in the wrong way. They failed to use long established powers to control cash and capital properly.

  8. alan jutson
    Posted February 2, 2011 at 8:55 am | Permalink

    Simon Heffer has a good article in todays telegraph, the management in the decline of Britain to a third world power/economy.

    How over decades, sucessive governments have managed to mismanage, tax, regulation, debt, our armed forces, the growing welfare state and the something for nothing attitude which has caused our decline against much of the rest of the world.

    Sorry cannot offer a link, wife taken paper to work !

  9. Alte Fritz
    Posted February 2, 2011 at 9:45 am | Permalink

    This has been going on for a long time, but I had not realised that SIs were presented it take it or leave it. How many members of the public realise how laws are made?

    Also, on the prisoners’ vote point, I also tend, wrongly, to conjoin the ECHR annd EU in the context of our sovereignty. If we are still sovereign then why do we not exercise that sovereignty on this one issue? Just to make a point.

    Because we can’t.

    • zorro
      Posted February 2, 2011 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

      The whole of Parliament is more a less a ‘statutory instrument’ of EU inspired regulation (about 80%)….


  10. StrongholdBarricades
    Posted February 2, 2011 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    Is it the “regulation” that has made Pfizer choose to leave?

    Or is it economic?

    Or is it educational standards?

    Is it EU standardisation?

    Or is it the complex tax laws that make you jump through all the regulations to actually be able to invest in new products. Taxing before a product a product is born, and taxing it again after it has been patented and made available for sale?

    Or is it because all Pfizer’s manufacture is now outside the EU, so therefore the tax laws and regulations here no longer apply in a “free trade” world?

  11. Iain Gill
    Posted February 2, 2011 at 10:40 am | Permalink

    the thing about europe is that every country interprets the rules rather differently

    the newspapers in denmark tell of EC citizens who have been kicked out of their country after being found guilty of very minor crimes, a rather different interpretation of laws than you will find here when even non EC nationals dont get kicked out after very serious crime

    the newspapers in denmark tell of restrictions on healthcare to a wide range of visitors until they have paid into their system for a time, again rather different to here

    denmark like the rest of europe outside of the UK is not i(viting in large numbers -ed) of indian nationals on ICT visas

    And which European governments will be willing to follow the UK in onshoring thousands of cheap Indian computing trainees – replacing more expensive and skilled local staff – to supply an onshore outsourcing market, and how will their own citizens respond? I can’t see the French or Greeks responding to this with the same fatalism as Brits seem to.

    Of course, local outsourcing already occurs all over Europe and may well increase, but this will not yield the same alleged savings as offshoring work, assuming people follow the UK lead in ignoring the hidden costs and inefficiences of the offshore model. And the political consequences may be more significant than they have so far proven to be in the UK.

    UK governments have been ideologically committed to relentless privatisation and “liberalisation” for more than 30 years, but this is not necessarily the case elsewhere in Europe. Even those countries facing economic hardship after the financial crash may find it culturally/politically impossible – or strategically inadvisable – to rush down the same road as the UK.

    After all, all that outsourcing has hardly proved a great success for our public sector IT in the last 10 years, has it?

    will French government bodies really shed French jobs in order to ship work out to India as readily as their UK counterparts? Will de-centralised German public sector organisations fire skilled local staff and risk damaging their own regional economies in order to ship work to semi-skilled offshore staff?

    will the UK really end up more competitive after all of these dynamics have played out?

    the skill to being in Europe is to learn to interpret rules in your own favour and not take too many things literally, we are far too straight and we need to learn fast

  12. Acorn
    Posted February 2, 2011 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    I take it that this was the Commons Select Committee on Statutory Instruments. Is there a new Joint Select Committee that covers both Houses as well? Once those committees have rubber stamped them, do they not have to go through positive or negative affirmation procedure in the Commons?

    Can either House ever object to “enabling” Bills and demand that the SI stuff should be “on the face of the Bill”? Or am I just not understanding how this democracy thing works!

  13. Mark
    Posted February 2, 2011 at 11:08 am | Permalink

    We need to have a Department for Deregulation for each lawmaker we are subjected to – one for Brussels, one for Parliament (and one for Holyrood and the Welsh assembly and Stormont where applicable). These departments need to be made the largest, best staffed and most motivated by bonuses on an investment banker scale to repeal regulations and cull entire quangos where possible. There are too few legislators and too little parliamentary time to fight the torrent of regulation in any other way.

    • zorro
      Posted February 2, 2011 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

      It is clear that the bonfire of quangos and one law in – one law out was a lot of froth. The best way of saving public money would be by deregulating the nonsense that currently passes for H&S matters. I note that the ‘bleeding stumps’ are being paraded by our very highly paid council CEOs. They are having to cut funding to pensioners or other forms of care for vulnerable people but are unable to cut their own outrageous salaries. John, have you heard of any diversity or equality coordinator posts being cut because I haven’t.


  14. Pete
    Posted February 2, 2011 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    There was always a ‘just and equitable’ ground for winding up—section 122(1)(g) of the Insolvency Act 1986. This provision was sometimes used to wind up companies that were set up with the intention of defrauding consumers, or where minority shareholders are being treated unfairly. I do agree that the new provisions are more widely drawn, but the idea of fairness as a ground for winding up is not new.

    I agree with you about the volume of regulation. When I was a law student, I remember standing in the library and taking a step back from the bookshelves. Instead of reading one book, I looked at the whole collection of books which contain the UK’s legislation. I noticed two odd things. First of all, there is a steady increase in the amount of legislation over time. The legislation for a single recent year has to be split across several volumes because there is so much of it. As you work back in time, you first get to one volume per year, and then you get to a point where several years are aggregated in a single volume.

    The other thing I noticed—and I have no explanation for this—is that the amount of legislation varies with the economic cycle. If the economy is doing well, there is more legislation. I’m curious to know if this is still true (it’s a long time since I was a law student, and I no longer have easy access to a law library). It seemed to work back then, though.

    Oh, then I tried the experiment of opening a book of statutes at random. (It was more fun than writing my essay!) Predictably I ended up with a statute that was so obscure it seemed like a waste of time.

    • lifelogic
      Posted February 2, 2011 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

      If you go into a business book shop only about 10% of the books are about actually producing something useful for customers. 90% is about dealing with the man made impediments to production, the legal structures, tax structures, import export laws, health and safety, employment legislation and countless other things.

      Just imagine if most of the state sector and the lawyers accountants etc. could all be release to actually produce something real and useful for all rather than acting largely as an impediment on such useful production.

  15. lifelogic
    Posted February 2, 2011 at 11:14 am | Permalink

    If health and safety rules (working at hight directive) is costing just Stoke council more than a reported £1M in extra scaffolding just to change bulbs and the like what is it costing the whole country?

    Perhaps £20 Billion at a rough guess (£300 each person)

    Did anyone do the sums before it became law? Are there actually more accidents caused in delivering and taking away the scaffolding to site anyway? Has anyone looked or even thought about it? Or is the only thought how can we all make money out of this daft new regulation?

    • zorro
      Posted February 2, 2011 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

      I am sure that H&S officers are furiously trying their hardest to get some legislation through to outlaw death as it is discriminatory. They will insist that they can do it too if you give them more money.


  16. sm
    Posted February 2, 2011 at 11:24 am | Permalink

    With this law on the statute what would the prior administration have done in the acute phase of the banking crisis? Would it have helped?


    Upside ,any downside?

    We do need some form of protection law to enable contracts to be unpicked if state support is needed,particularly if and where fiduciary duties are breached. Where risks taken and they are potentially ‘reckless’ and the risks/benefits accrue in an uneven way between management ‘insiders’, shareholders, the state guarantor lender of last/first resort.

    Would prefer a UK solution rather than the EU- they have higher goals.

    Splitting up of banks still seems a simple and elegant solution, but which combined interests would not wish it? Are we convinced regulators do the right thing?

    Less and or better regulation may mean less cost and better outcomes…. cue shock horror.


    • zorro
      Posted February 2, 2011 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

      Bless her…the masses would only disturb her peace. How dare they suggest that she cuts her salary. It is far easier for her to cut services rather than her salary. Anyway, she probably has a very large house that she needs to maintain courtesy of the rate payers.


    • zorro
      Posted February 2, 2011 at 7:12 pm | Permalink

      The banks probably don’t like the Glass – Steagall type option because they might actually be responsible financially for their cock ups instead of being bailed out by the working man’s future pay packet and taxes…..They might actually have to be ever so slightly competent….


  17. Demetrius
    Posted February 2, 2011 at 11:50 am | Permalink

    This tidal wave of regulations about which few know much, or can understand, or have a real appreciation of their potential impact is helping creating the pre-condition for another bad event somewhere somehow. As some scientists try to tell us if systems become too complex and too interdependent it may not take much of a trigger to set off a collapse.

  18. Mark
    Posted February 2, 2011 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    You think that the regulation won’t be used? I can easily envisage a Labour administration deciding that it is “fair ” or “expedient in the public interest” to wind up an investment bank or two. They’d simply spend the money from realising assets on benefits for their client state. Vive la revolution! (think of Byers expropriating Railtrack)

    Reply: MY point is either the EU or the Bank will change it all this Parliament.

  19. Ruth
    Posted February 2, 2011 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    John, you are so right on the SI thing. When I studied for a law degree in the late 1990s, we were required to buy books of Statutes. What was striking about these statutes, particularly in some fields such as employment, was the closer they came to the present, the thinner they got. Effectively almost all recent legislation has been an enabling Act, giving someone in the Executive the power to make the decisions as they see fit. This is not democracy, it is not government by the people or their representatives.

    And almost without exception the Statutory Instruments which have resulted have been poorly thought out, poorly implemented and caused more trouble than they solved, simply because they were subject to a single political influence rather than considered debate.

    I despair for this country, I really do.

  20. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted February 2, 2011 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

    Suppose that someone in the House of Commons tabled a motion that “This House has no confidence in the European Union”. It wouldn’t win but if more than 50% of the parliamentary Conservative Party voted for it, what do you think the reaction of the Prime Minister and his Forign Secretary would be?

    It really has reached the point, Mr Redwood, where something must be done and fortune favours the brave. Those of us who have stuck with the Conservatives and not joined UKIP really do need to be assured that it has been worthwhile.

    Reply: I and my colleagues have tabled and voted for Eurosceptic amendments to the EU Bill. Each time we are reminded there is no majority for such a stance.

    • Mark
      Posted February 2, 2011 at 10:03 pm | Permalink

      I see Philip Bone reckons that Parliament is probably just chicken rather than Europhile: he pointed out that most Labour MPs abstained, freeing the party to promote a referendum later if they consider it politically expedient, while Lib Dems who had offered one as part of their manifesto are now busy rowing in the other direction. He counted rather more support in the form of purposeful abstentions, absent friends, and members of government not yet prepared to resign. Still, in practice you are right. Too many chicken livers waiting until we’re truly stuffed. We’ll get our referendum when it’s too late.

  21. waramess
    Posted February 2, 2011 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

    …and a referendum vote for membership of the EU. Am I missing something? Or did you?

    Reply: I abstained on the amendment to allow an In Out referendum after we have had a referendum on a transfer of powers which we have won. It is all too hypothetical and implausible. Only 28 MPs backed it. I want a referendum now, which is not on offer.

  22. Mike Stallard
    Posted February 2, 2011 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

    The whole trouble is that this cancer of officialdom is eating right down into the sticks/Styx where I live.
    Setting up a new school in Sweden involved parent vouchers, independent companies making a profit where they could and firing the starting gun. Here it is rapidly becoming a welter of burocracia. You have to speak the lingo and, above all, be one of “us” rather than one of “them” – the general public.
    Ms Burbalsingh in yesterday’s Telegraph described clearly what happens to lessons when the bureaucrats take control: complete mayhem. In our local Comprehensive today they are actually advertising for “responsible” adults to take classes when teachers are absent.
    Why? Why? Why?

  23. Martin
    Posted February 2, 2011 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

    Regarding Statutory Instruments you may have hit on a badly needed area of constitutional reform.

    Part of the problem is that politicians like to be seen to be doing something after a particular issue has hit the tabloids. No politician wants to be seen saying “Sorry folks there is not much we can do about this”.

    • zorro
      Posted February 2, 2011 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

      Immigration Control is a good example….loads of legislation supposedly to control immigration which counter-intuitively led to a massive increase in immigration…..


  24. lola
    Posted February 2, 2011 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

    To quote Marvin the Paranoid Android – “I think you ought to know that I’m feeling very depressed”.

    Overall, I really wish that you had not confirmed what I had suspected. That i’ts all become completely stupid and awful.

    Better luck next time.

  25. Acorn
    Posted February 2, 2011 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

    Admin question please JR. Some posters have said that they can’t see their posts which are “awaiting moderation”, useful to check links are working. I have one machine that uses XP PRO that can’t see them; my other machine that uses XP HOME, can see them. Both machines use the same version of IE8 with the same user settings. Please could you ask your web guy if he knows why this happens?

    I will do so.

  26. zorro
    Posted February 2, 2011 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

    One of those days when you want to say…’What IS the point?’ – I remember that SIs have really become more prevalent over the last decade or two in my experience of government legislation, and it is just lazy legislation without any proper debate. You should go in with a rubber stamp as a protest and ask where you should make your mark.


  27. Bazman
    Posted February 2, 2011 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

    It’s easy to scoff at regulation especially health and safety regulations when the only danger you face is stabbing oneself in finger with a pencil, but lets face it many companies would just throw the dead worker in the skip if they could get away with it. The Daily mail Stoke council step ladder story is exactly that. Industry is banned from using ladders and step ladders? Common sense tell you this is not true. Some work over certain heights and in certain circumstances yes. More to go with Stoke than Europe I think. Tory Pravda. Read the Daily Sport as that is all true.

  28. stred
    Posted February 2, 2011 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

    Sadly, most of the poulation do not realise that, in the UK, MPs have little influence over law and are both less well paid and less powerful than our Civil Masters that make the regulations. Like the lawyers, I have noticed how building regulations were simplified to a few lines, after Mrs T’s initative, then the guidance notes were appended and the document became 5 times the size of the original. We also have to take account of a mass of other documentation from BSI, Agrement Boards, IEE, Gas Safe, and every bloody thing safe. This only covers construction, then there is Planning and envronmental legislaton, legal such as Party Wall and wayleaves. In the 90s Health and Safety was privatised and we were expected to write safety assessments.

    The result is that building has become expensive. When I built my first house in 1974 the scaffolding cost £50, in 1980 it was £80, 1995- £150, last week £950- all about the same length. I gather even the decorator needs a licence to carry paint in his van. White asbestos is treated as if it were plutonium although no link has been found to asbestosis. Skilled electricians are forbidden from wiring their own houses unless they have the latest ‘ticket’. And my builder relation tells me that there is a move to prevent anyone without their ‘ticket’ from connecting a piece of pipe to a new water tap. The worst news for me is that bath taps are now regulated to prevent really hot baths. Last annoyance- I have to have a wired linked mains fire alarm in our 2 storey house.

    As far as I know, the number of serious accidents on site had stayed about the same. It seems that the longer the regulation or specification, the less likely it is to be read or understood. In finished buildings, fire doors closers are inevitably removed as soon as the occupant moves in. Smoke alarms are removed from kitchens as soon as someone burns the toast. If mains fire alarms are put in tenants switch them off. I was amazed to see in Switzerland that they do not think any fire doors are necessary, even in a 5 storey block of flats. The fire brigade rescues people and they are expected to climb out of windows.

    Although this mass of ridiculous legislation costs the ordinary consumer a fortune, there seems to be very little regulation of large powerful companies. Why is European anti trust legislation weaker than American? How about a law to stop large companies buying out up and coming small competitors and then shutting them down. Or a law to stop manufacturers deliberately limiting the life of their products to 5 years? This would save an enormous amount of material and CO2,. But of course there would have to be a regulation to restrict the lobby industry and their professional liars.

    • Bazman
      Posted February 3, 2011 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

      It’s true regulations are getting tighter some for good reason. Maybe the industry could regulate itself as some Tories would like. Wonder why?
      Asbestos is treated like plutonium ridiculous as this is, one strand of asbestosis can causes disease though if left alone on roof or under the eaves of a house more danger can be caused by incorrect removal. Small amounts such as a broken ironing board can be disposed of by wetting the asbestos and placing in a plastic bag. Theoretically blue asbestos is the most dangerous, but there is little between the different types. Professional asbestos removal is nothing short of nuclear waste disposal and rightly so. If you have ever seen the shipyard men dying of asbestos related disease you would not be so flippant. “Get in there mate its as harmless as snow!” Many a 50+ year old worker lives in fear because these past practices. I would claim to be ‘asbestos aware’ and if I ever suspect I am in any danger you would not see me for dust..

    • alan jutson
      Posted February 3, 2011 at 7:21 pm | Permalink


      If you want a simple comparison on rising costs due to regulation just look at skip hire.

      But now you cannot put glass, plasterboard or paint tins in a skip, but the cost has quadrupled in the last decade.

      Typical cost for a 6 yard skip now about £200.00.

      In addition you now need a waste licence (Cost about £150) if you are deemed to be involved in transporting waste. If you are caught, you can now be find up to £5,000.

      My response to the person I spoke to for clarification, who determines action and implimentation of this Act.

      What is your determination of waste ?

      Answer: Anything that is left over from the finished job and is transported in your vehicle.

      My reply: No that is material for the next job, it is simply being recycled from one place to another. It certainly is not waste, waste has no value, that is why it is thrown away, I use a skip for waste and the skip company have their own licence.

      SILENCE !!!!!!!!.

  29. Mr J Leslie Smith
    Posted February 2, 2011 at 8:46 pm | Permalink


    What does interest me about your Blog is that you read all our comments and respond as appropriate. This makes for an empowered Representative in the House. We all too, have many friends and business colleagues who we mention issues to from your Blog. This at least gives us the “breath of democracy” and the Government will continue to ignore our collective Will, at their peril. When you speak in the future, please consider that for each of us commenting on your Blog there are 100 others aware of your actions in the House. If anyone is truly speaking for the People right now, it is your good self.

  30. adam
    Posted February 2, 2011 at 10:22 pm | Permalink

    look at this research:

    Britain is ‘one of most undemocratic countries in Europe’

    Britain may have the Mother of Parliaments, but in a new study on democracy in 30 countries it is close to the bottom of the table which is headed by Denmark, according to the study by the University of Zurich and the government-funded Social Science Research Centre in Berlin.
    It says: ‘The problems lie mainly in three key areas: majority representation in parliament, which creates distortion between votes and actual seats in parliament, a media that is skewed by private-sector interests, and declining trust in the police.’


    This is the sort of nonsense that comes out of social science departments, it will soon transfer in the minds of politicians and its dangerous.
    It suggests only countries with PR are democratic, only countries that have government run media are democratic and only countries that are obedient of the police are democratic.
    The one they have missed out is referendums/Direct democracy.

    Britain is far more democratic than the EU which aspires for all these things. Thats is why Federalists hate Britain.

    • Martin
      Posted February 3, 2011 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

      You reject this study out of hand. Have you ever visited any other EU country?

      If you ever do visit another EU country when you arrive see how many surveillance cameras you note in the first five minutes. At UK airports I give up at five and that is before I have even got my baggage! (The cameras at Heathhell are of course useless for finding my delayed bags!)

      As for our media – many of them use tax dodge islands and yet tell our government how to spend or not spend our money!

  31. BobE
    Posted February 2, 2011 at 10:32 pm | Permalink

    Why are my comments still awaiting moderation hours after others are published?

  32. BobE
    Posted February 2, 2011 at 10:37 pm | Permalink

    Posted February 2, 2011 at 10:00 am | Permalink
    It doesn’t really matter it’s not about the EU. Its a chance for you lot at Westminster to stand up and say b****r off. Should lighten up February a lot.

    Posted February 2, 2011 at 6:55 pm | Permalink
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    Totally agree. I will be very interested in the votes on this one. Is it the first free vote of this Parliment.
    Is Dave learning? I do so hope so.
    Region 6,

    Why am I ignored??

    • alan jutson
      Posted February 3, 2011 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

      Bob E

      Perhaps the EUSSR Region 6 from where you are based, have turned off the internet.

      The worry is, it may eventually happen sometime.

  33. Neil Craig
    Posted February 9, 2011 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

    So the EU has now decided it is important to become competitive.

    That would be ” The Union has today set itself a new strategic goal for the next decade: to become the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world”

    Except that the day that promise was published in March 2000 http://www.europarl.europa.eu/summits/lis1_en.htm

    I suspect I could find many much earlier promises too. These people are parasites who will make any promise & tell any lies to stave off the day. I find it difficult to believe the Minister for Europe doesn’t know that.

  • 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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