It is an extremely promising and most welcome initiative for the Coalition government to take the matter of excessive regulation seriously and enlist and trust citizens to help define a future legislative programme, and offer views on how the role of the state might be reduced.

I propose a Great Reform Bill to remove the following pieces of legislation or regulations from the statute book, initially consisting of repealing of reforming the following pieces of legislation:

  • The Health & Safety at Work Act 1974. Excessive health and safety legislation has replaced common sense and the sheer volume and proliferation of rules and regulations stifles innovation and swamps small businesses or charitable organisations in the Third Sector. It is time for a thorough review of all aspects of this act as well as the numerous offshoot pieces of legislation, which create unnecessary jobs for the HSE.
  • Construction Design & Management Regulations 2007 (CDM). These regulations do not apply to small domestic projects where statistically most construction deaths or accidents occur. Where CDM does apply eg on major commercial projects, costs have increased typically by 1% due to the fees for a new breed of professional, the Planning Coordinator, whose sole task is to prepare reams of risk assessments and health and safety documentation. Yet again this role has done little to reduce construction-related deaths or injuries.
  • The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. This act forces many small businesses to prepare significant amounts of paperwork, and carry out detailed risk assessments for audit and inspection, and allows Fire Authorities to close businesses without appeal, yet does nothing to reduce the risk of fire.
  • Regional Development Agencies Act 1998. RDAs and Government Offices of the Regions should be abolished as they have failed to fulfil heir remit but at considerable expense to the public purse and merely duplicate the functions of national and county government. RDAs were established despite public antipathy and rejection in a referendum in North East England.
  • The Police Act 1997, specifically with regard to the new Criminal Records Bureau and recently created Independent Safeguarding Authority, both of which should be abolished.
  • Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006. There is an urgent need to review existing asbestos legislation to take account of the diverse range of asbestos-containing products, some of which are much more harmful than others.
  • Identity Cards Act 2006. A wholly undemocratic act worthy of a fascist state that will do nothing to make the nation more secure.
  • Firearms Act 1998. Introduced as a knee jerk reaction to the Dunblane tragedy but has done nothing to reduce gun crime and instead criminalises those who take part in sport shooting.
  • Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005. Specifically with regard to the impact of this piece of regulation on music venues.
  • Regulation of Investigatory Powers ACT 2000. This act provides a legal framework that allows authorities to snoop and spy on citizens and is grossly undemocratic. Abolish The Office of Surveillance Commissioners.
  • The Local Government Act 2000. Abolish Standards for England.
  • Part P Building Regulations 2000, which came into force in 2005 and imposes an undue cost burden on consumers, who are obliged to employ ‘competent’ trained electricians to carry out even the most modest alterations to electrical circuits.
  • Licensing Act 2003.
  • Human Rights Act 1998. Withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights.
  • The Dangerous Dogs Act 1989, arguably one of the most hasty and ill-considered pieces of legislation of all time.

Why is this idea important?


Second only to the appalling legacy of fiscal ineptitude, the most debilitating feature of 13 years under the previous Labour government has been the constant barrage of burdensome legislation, regulations, statutory instruments and directives.  Not only have these stifled innovation, entrepreneurs, small businesses and Third Sector organisations, but they also imposed financial burdens or unnecessary restrictions on individual citizens. The whole New Labour edifice was built on a flawed assumption that the State knows better than its citizens on how to run our lives and manage our affairs, and that somehow we need protecting from our own actions and ourselves.

The state must back off if it is to harness the latent potential of its citizens and the numerous and diverse range of charitable organisations, many of whom are better qualified and better placed than the state would ever be, to deal with the broken society. This is not a new idea, having been put forward convincingly in ‘The Plan’, by Douglas Carswell and Daniel Hannan, published in 2008, but it is one whose time has come.

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