Mrs Thatcher had a minister, Neil Hamilton, responsible for deregulation. Under Labour a similar agenda was pursued by the Better Regulation Task Force. That morphed into the Better Regulation Commission and then into the Better Regulation Advisory Council and, finally, into a whole Department of State in the form of BERR – the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform. All these initiatives shared the premise that the ever-growing burden of risk-averse regulation under which the country was labouring not only led to inefficiency and curbed entrepreneurial initiative; it was a threat to civil liberties.
Now a new initiative – “Your Freedom”. The new coalition government aspires to restore civil liberties. It wishes to hear from us: “Which current laws would you like to remove or change because they restrict your civil liberties?”
Here is the proposal that I have submitted – without a cat in Hell’s chance of it being acted upon. (A further difficulty is that I submitted it twice and both times their software took liberties that rendered the submission rather strange. The site does not have a help section and does not allow editing or retraction; another Government IT triumph!)
The Cream Buns Act: one law to sweep away many
Eating too many cream buns is bad for you. There ought to be a law against it?
Why? Because it is an activity that harms only you. Such a law would infringe your civil liberties.
The Cream Buns Act would remove all existing laws and regulations that proscribe behaviour that risks only the health or safety of mentally competent adult risk takers.
All existing, and prospective, legislation and regulation should be subject to the Cream Buns Test: if the behaviour subject to control or restraint is potentially harmful only to the person it is proposed to control or restrain, it should be repealed or withdrawn.
Two nominations for early repeal: the seat belt law and the set of laws criminalizing the sale or use of drugs. They merit priority not only because they pass the Cream Buns Test but, more importantly, because they have criminalized millions and can be shown to have had highly significant adverse consequences. The drug laws have created vast, violent criminal enterprises, and the seat belt laws have made roads more dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists.
- After the War on Drugs – Options for control
- Illegal drugs. The problem is prohibition the solution is control and regulation
- Annual reports
- Illegal drugs. The problem is prohibition the solution is control and regulation (in Mandarin)
- See also the website of The Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs
- The Efficacy of Seat Belt Legislation
- The failure of seat belt legislation
- Britain’s seat belt law should be repealed
- Road Safety: the debate goes on, and on
- Plus 17 blogs
The Your Freedom website asks – why is your idea important?
(In the second version on the Your Freedom website this section is excluded – http://yourfreedom.hmg.gov.uk/restoring-civil-liberties/the-cream-buns-act-1/idea-view)
The Cream Buns Act would enshrine in legislation an important principle setting out the limits of the authority of the state.
John Stuart Mill thought it was an important principle. My proposal is highly derivative. Here, in 1859, is his version:
“In the conduct of human beings towards one another, it is necessary that general rules should for the most part be observed, in order that people may know what they have to expect; but in each person’s own concerns, his individual spontaneity is entitled to free exercise. Considerations to aid his judgment, exhortations to strengthen his will, may be offered to him, even obtruded on him, by others; but he, himself, is the final judge. All errors which he is likely to commit against advice and warning, are far outweighed by the evil of allowing others to constrain him to what they deem his good.”
(On Liberty, J S Mill, Chapter 4: Of the limits to the authority of society over the individual.)