Those of us who want government to do less with less, and those who want government to do more with less, have a common interest. We want a more efficient and effective government.
The best way to provide impetus and discipline for such an approach is to have a small number of simple rules which departments of government just have to accept. The government has promised some of them, and talked about others. Now would be a good time to reaffirm and reinforce these precepts:
1. Any job vacancy in the public sector should normally be filled from applicants within the public sector. Any job falling vacant has to be reappraised to see if it is still needed, or can best be combined with some other post.
2. Departments and quangos cannot add any more floorspace to their property portfolio. If they want a new building, it has to replace larger and dearer space, with a profit on the switch for taxpayers.
3. Any new regulation should only be permitted when regulations of greater or equal burden have been identified for repeal, concurrently with the passage of the new one. This should include all regulations resulting from EU legislation.
4. Every budget should entail scrapping at least one tax, to start to simplify the complex tax system.
5. Every time the EU takes more power UK regulators and government departments in that area should shed staff and controls to compensate. We have two governments for the price of three in many areas today.
We are chronically overgoverned. The advent of a huge EU government has acted as an overlay to UK administration, and as a kind of misplaced spur to more UK government as well. As this Parliament wishes to remain in the EU, the least it could do is to put in some rules that mean there is a cost to UK government of signing up to so much EU government. They should be seen as alternatives, not as mutual reinforcers.