I had one of those depressing meetings with government folk the other day, this one on growth. It started well enough, talking about the need for deregulation, competition policy, and the burden of employment law. The trouble is, though, that deregulation has been found too difficult. Nick Clegg's intended repeal of outdated laws has been put in a drawer because there's too much outdated law for him to get his head round, while Francis Maude's proposed bonfire of the quango is a damp squib. And as for employment law, well, much of it comes from the EU, and the rest is stuff that is easy to create but not easy to repeal, since all such laws build up dependency groups.
Perhaps I go beyond myself in saying this but in all likelihood this meeting was probably a way of satiating calls from the more traditional Thatcherites amongst the conservative right: 'Nick Clegg's people are talking to the ASI about ways to encourage growth' becoming a widely reported meme to the Torygraph and Fail, without the content or the extent of his success in convincing leviathan to cut itself down to size ever entering the popular discourse.
Now I know Dr. Butler isn't that daft to be taken for a ride and his very post illustrates how he won't let it lie but I'm starting to wonder if the answer to this problem shouldn't stem from creating more laws; starting with one very simple one in particular, preferably given some constitutional weight to it.
The law I am off course talking about is one designed to introduce sunshine clauses, both retrospectively and for all future laws and treaties; all existing laws and statutes must be debated and cleared by both houses before the end of this particular parliament and all new legislation will be reviewed in 2 parliaments time; any law not debated in this period will then cease to be a constituent of British law and attempts to uphold it could he challenged in court, with a view to all challenges being upheld as the law no longer applies.
The pressure and honus would then be on this current parliament to prove the usefulness of current laws and ease the burden of new lawmaking being a referential process to older faultier laws; likewise it would ensure the law is adaptive to the environment it finds itself in.
A side effect would be to ensure fewer laws come into effect from illiberal statutory instruments and by association from the EU without first concentrating the minds of our politicos on it's impact and synergy with our own common law system, as successive SIs rely on their power and enforceability through consent to previous law.
Ultimately it puts what our politicos minds on their collective sleeves; the Cleggeron rode in on a wave of liberal conservatism saying they were going to restore the supremacy of the individual over the collective, roll back state encroachment on our personal freedoms and through a lot of deceptive rhetoric have managed to carry on doing exactly the same thing as their predecessors; more laws, more gloss, state engorgement on more freedoms and noone really in charge other than an incumbent, unelected EU bureaucracy.
Let's see them back this up with a reform that will see actions rather than rhetoric.