Friday 1 March 2024

Death by a thousand regulations

Harry Phibbs has a useful Critic piece on the destructive effect of far too many laws and regulations on civil society.

Death by a thousand regulations

British politicians are allowing unnecessary laws to ruin civil society

I would bet a crisp five pound note that a Ten Minute Rule Bill introduced by Dr Thérèse Coffey last week regarding the driving licence requirement for minibuses and medium-sized goods vehicles passed you by. Yet even regulations which might seem trivial can serve, in their own way, to depress the joy and energy of the nation. Together, they can make Britain feel like a joyless, listless place.

Under the current law, inevitably inherited as a regulation from the European Union, those who passed their driving test prior to 1997 are allowed to drive these “categories D1 and C1” vehicles as well as an ordinary motor car. But those who passed their driving test after 1997 must pay between £2,000 and £3,000 to do a special course. Coffey wants driving licences for those C1 and D1 categories to automatically be given to everybody who has passed a driving test for a car.

There are still plenty of us who passed our driving tests before 1997 but each year this perverse and ageist restriction is causing more damage. Each year the cohort legally allowed to drive the minibus becomes more grey and wrinkled. Soon, only the doddery Mr Magoo element will be entrusted with the task under rigorous modern safety culture. What makes it even more perverse is that driving tests have become considerably more exacting since 1997.

The whole piece is well worth reading as a reminder of how official interference and meddling grinds down civil society. It is also a reminder that we need political parties who are willing to grind down the civil service when it becomes necessary. We don't have them.

But then what is this vacillating, craven, supposedly Conservative Government doing? Here is a modest but popular reform that would be obviously sensible. The Labour Party are foolish enough to oppose it, setting themselves against thousands of small charities. Yet Ministers defer to civil servants, who will always be able to come up with administrative difficulties. Meanwhile, the noose around the Big Society’s neck tightens as the minivan drivers slowly die off. It’s enough to tempt one to fill a minivan and leave.


The Jannie said...

Someone wrote "the worse the government the greater the number of laws" - or words to that effect. I think he missed out "and taxes" at the end . . .

A K Haart said...

Jannie - it was Samuel Johnson - “a corrupt society has many laws”. Imagine how many more laws we have compared to his time.

Sam Vega said...

Yes, I drove the community minibus in the last village we lived in. It took children to school, elderly people who had given up driving on shopping trips, and made a bit of money taking groups for local charities. And come to think of it, none of us drivers were in the first flush of youth.

If the Tories had any sense of purpose, they would rally round Theresa Coffey and publicise this. The likes of Chris Bryant and Diane Abbott should be exposed as the miserabilist ideologues they are.

dearieme said...

My memory of driving a minibus is that you have to learn, or remember, to cope with the long wheelbase when manoeuvring.

That cannot possibly cost between £2,000 and £3,000.

A K Haart said...

Sam - I know a couple of chaps who used to drive the community minibus although they've retired from it now. Presumably they will become more difficult and more expensive to replace. Another petty racket bolted onto a worthy activity.

dearieme - I agree, it can't possibly cost that much. It's on a par with getting an HGV licence.

Bucko said...

It was similar with trailers, but they managed to scrap that rule and add them to everyones licence. For a time, I was legal to tow a trailer and my wife wasn't. Neither of us have ever pulled a trailer in our lives

DiscoveredJoys said...

The current not-all-that-deep-state is mostly comprised of people who believe that other people are perfectible if they receive enough approved education. The modern Clerisy is comprised of adult milk monitors and school prefects.

Since lots of people blithely carry on ignoring the expectations of their betters, then the problem is 'obviously' not that people cannot be perfected - but that more finely aimed education, and more finely aimed laws, must be the answer.

But a moments reflection would confirm that 'better people' and 'more laws' have never worked in the past, and the expectation that they will work 'this time' will lead to disappointment.

Scrobs. said...

My full driving licence from 1966 allows me to get on a seven litre motorbike and hare down the road when I like!

A good (much younger) friend has had to pay about two grand to be allowed to do this, but his wife has forbidden him buying a machine, so he's in a huge sulk now!

Tammly said...

I'm afraid this is just another example of the myriad of restrictions and laws that serve to strangle an over regulated society. Christopher Booker and Richard North did much to chronicle this, over the last decades. Government and regulators think their activities help to improve society and make it safer; but all it really does is to 'hog tie' people and throttle the economy. The only solution is much less government.

A K Haart said...

Bucko - it used to be easy, but now I'm not sure what I can drive.

DJ - adult milk monitors is a good name for them. Vote for the Milk Monitors' Party, the Milk Monitor Workers' Party, the Democratic Monitors of Milk Party or the Green Vegan Milk Monitoring Party.

Scrobs - I think I can do that too, but I'd have to check the insurance first, don't want to leave Mrs H unprovided for.

Tammly - I agree and it affects too many people. Certainly not everyone, but it tends to supresses independence and initiative and as we know it promotes a sense of entitlement. Insidiously destructive.

dearieme said...

aka The Head Girl Effect.