There are many bad Bills set to be brought before the House of Commons in Building Britain’s Future, Labour’s platform upon which they will be fighting the election. For example:
- As part of the Digital Britain Bill the government has decided to switch off FM radio. I for one still use it and find it entirely adequate for my needs and am not keen on being forced to buy a new radio because the government wants to direct technology. There is also a plan to introduce a legal right to broadband, which is preposterous in the extreme.
- The Child Poverty Bill will put into law the desire to abolish child poverty by 2020. This is something the Conservative government should immediately overturn if they come into power. In this instance a child is judged as being in poverty if they are part of a household earning less than 60 percent of median earnings. It is therefore not a goal to reduce actual poverty (which should be measured in absolute terms), but a goal for household equality.
- In forcing companies to publish the difference in salaries between men and women, the government has hit upon a terrible policy. Flexible working arrangements that offer fewer hours for less pay are being undermined. This legislation will discourage companies from employing women in junior positions in case they skew the results (undermining their ability to attract women for more senior positions). The unintended consequences will prove this to be counter-productive.
There are two even greater concerns that transcend the problems with any individual Bill. Firstly, how on earth does the government expect to pay for this? £4.2 billion on the Child overtly Bill; £655 million on the Improving Schools and Safeguarding Children Bill; £117 million on the Equality Bill; the list goes on. Accepting that the government is already trimming the edges of government in cognito, the fiddling needed to also cover these policies would put Madoff to shame. What will be cut?
The other concern is the fact that so much of these Bills are filled with trite nonsense. As Simon Jenkins points out in The Guardian:
What is "a mandatory job for every school-leaver unemployed for a year" or "a guarantee to local people of more power to keep their neighbourhood safe" or a "guarantee of a personal tutor for every parent" or an "enforceable entitlement to see a consultant"?
To sum up, Building Britain’s Future is full of bad, expensive polices that have no chance of working.