Andrew Allison

Smaller government

In Uncategorized on November 6, 2006 at 7:13 pm

Many years ago, I was serving on a standing committee in the Church of England. We were trying to decide what should be the main topic for discussion at a meeting. Should we have a main speaker? None of us present could think of anything and the rest of the agenda was looking like a complete waste of time. I said, ‘Why don’t we just not have a meeting. What is the point, if we have nothing of merit to discuss.’ My thoughts were too radical. ‘We must have a meeting’, the reply came back, and indeed we did; the net result, a complete waste of time.

That has got me to thinking about parliament and way parliament works. I heard recently that since 1997 there are now over one thousand things we can no longer legally do. Over one thousand new offences. It seems as if parliament has to justify itself; if they are not constantly legislating, the electorate will think they are not working. What nonsense! A Member of Parliament has many jobs to do. They help their constituents with various problems, writing to ministers, tyring to get answers. They can table questions in the House of Commons and hold the executive to account. They debate the major issues of the day. All of these things are vitally important to our democracy. Parliament does not have to legislate for legislations sake. I want less government, not more government.

At the beginning of this years I visited a friend in the US. She lives in Indiana and we went on a guided tour of the State House in Indianapolis. Apart from sitting in the Chief Justice’s seat in the Supreme Court; which was a highlight; I learned the State House of Representatives and Senate sat for around four months of the year, and yet despite this, democracy and state laws are not threatened. Perhaps a lesson should be learned here. Let’s go for smaller government; fewer laws; and more to holding the executive in to account, than to legislating for the sake of legislating.

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