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.