If the Queen's Speech was mine to write...

December 03, 2008 2:26 PM

...it would look pretty different to what we have heard today.


There was a fascinating programme on the radio last night (listen again here) about the problem of there simply being too much legislation. It's certainly the case that the statute book, the list of criminal offences and the number of regulations has soared in recent years, and that politicians seem to prefer to legislate rather than pursue less glamourous but more effective policies to actually produce improvements in services.


It's that problem that inspires the first two bills that would be in my version of the Queen's speech.


The first would be a Great Repeal Bill, as proposed by Daniel Hannan MEP and Douglas Carswell MP in their excellent book The Plan. There are large numbers of defunct, poorly drafted and simply bad laws that should be swept away, including reams of gold-plated regulations. With these laws would go the unaccountable monsters they created, such as the Regional Development Agencies, which have proved so expensive and so ineffective at the same time.


Second up would be a new system of doing things in future - the One In, One Out Bill. This would set the precedent that if you want to introduce a new bill, regulations or quango then you must get rid of an existing one to prevent the State becoming too large and to avoid action for action's sake.


The third and final law I would propose is a Public Transparency Bill. This would be an exercise in Google Government - such as has been pursued in the States at www.USAspending.gov All public contracts, pay scales over £30,000, spending records, MPs' expenses receipts and so on would be made visible to the taxpaying public. The current situation in which everything is secret unless an unusual event such as a Freedom of Information request makes a fact public should be reversed: the default position for public data should be transparency and openness, and only rare conditions such as personal privacy and national security should counteract that.


The current state of affairs is severely flawed, leading to such high tax bills, services that continue to struggle, public disillusionment and low participation. Tinkering around the edges and gesture legislation will not solve that - we need radical changes to the way the State is run.

...it would look pretty different to what we have heard today.


There was a fascinating programme on the radio last night (listen again here) about the problem of there simply being too much legislation. It's certainly the case that the statute book, the list of criminal offences and the number of regulations has soared in recent years, and that politicians seem to prefer to legislate rather than pursue less glamourous but more effective policies to actually produce improvements in services.


It's that problem that inspires the first two bills that would be in my version of the Queen's speech.


The first would be a Great Repeal Bill, as proposed by Daniel Hannan MEP and Douglas Carswell MP in their excellent book The Plan. There are large numbers of defunct, poorly drafted and simply bad laws that should be swept away, including reams of gold-plated regulations. With these laws would go the unaccountable monsters they created, such as the Regional Development Agencies, which have proved so expensive and so ineffective at the same time.


Second up would be a new system of doing things in future - the One In, One Out Bill. This would set the precedent that if you want to introduce a new bill, regulations or quango then you must get rid of an existing one to prevent the State becoming too large and to avoid action for action's sake.


The third and final law I would propose is a Public Transparency Bill. This would be an exercise in Google Government - such as has been pursued in the States at www.USAspending.gov All public contracts, pay scales over £30,000, spending records, MPs' expenses receipts and so on would be made visible to the taxpaying public. The current situation in which everything is secret unless an unusual event such as a Freedom of Information request makes a fact public should be reversed: the default position for public data should be transparency and openness, and only rare conditions such as personal privacy and national security should counteract that.


The current state of affairs is severely flawed, leading to such high tax bills, services that continue to struggle, public disillusionment and low participation. Tinkering around the edges and gesture legislation will not solve that - we need radical changes to the way the State is run.

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