Deregulation is the tax cut that does not cost the government a penny of lost revenue. After thirteen years of a very regulatory government – and forty years of a persistently regulatory EU – British business needs a break.
I had high hopes of one soon. This summer Mr Clegg, Deputy Prime Minister, launched a consultation. I hoped his launch was to slay a thousand regulations. The civil service and public wrote in in their thousands, with good and bad ideas in profusion. The auguries looked good for the great Freedom Bill we had been promised.
More recently we hear the Bill is being scaled back. Maybe it will just be a Home Office Bill to renew lost civil liberties. Maybe economic deregulation has to await another day, another vehicle.
The problems facing business will not wait. They are not about to be magicked away. We need a robust recovery. The easier it is to set up a business, grow a business, recruit people and offer a good or service the better. Now is the time for a blockbuster Freedom Bill. The Cabinet Office website is bursting with ideas. What is stopping the government coming forward with a series of repeals?
Regulations are so often the sledge hammer to miss the nut. So often they achieve the opposite of what they set out to achieve. How about mortgage regulation? After it came in we had the collapse of the mortgage banks, because it was regulating the wrong things in the wrong way.
John Redwood is the Member of Parliament for Wokingham. He blogs regularly at johnredwoodsdiary.com.