UK government tries to free itself from red tape


Briain’s new government has invited Britons to nominate laws for repeal via a website as part of a drive by the new coalition to protect individual freedom and reduce red tape for businesses. The move is an attempt to break with the previous Labour government which was accused by critics of trying to legislate in every area of public life and of creating what a hostile British press called a “nanny state.”

Launching the initiative, deputy prime minister Nick Clegg said thousands of new laws had been added to the statute book over the past decade when Labour was in power. “The state has crept further and further into people’s homes, the places they work, their private lives. That intrusion is wrong; it’s illiberal; it’s disempowering and it’s going to change,” Clegg said in a speech.

The “Your Freedom” website ( will ask Britons which laws they would like to remove because they restrict civil liberties, which laws they thought were unnecessary, and how businesses and charities could be freed from red tape. The answers will feed into a Freedom Bill to be put before parliament later this year.

Clegg said red tape had cost businesses an estimated 88 billion pounds since 1998. Business Secretary Vince Cable is heading a committee that will look at all regulations approved by the previous government for introduction this year to see if they are really necessary. Clegg leads the Liberal Democrat party who took office in May in an unusual coalition with the larger Conservatives, ending 13 years of Labour rule.

Their coalition plan included a section on restoring civil liberties, promising to regulate the use of closed circuit TV which monitors activities on many streets and to protect freedom of speech and the right to protest. Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke announced plans on Wednesday to send fewer criminals to jail to try to save money and cut reoffending rates.

Britain faces an era of grinding austerity as the government strives to eliminate a large chunk of a record peacetime budget deficit over the five-year parliament.

The coalition is hoping to encourage citizens’ groups to spring up with initiatives that fill in some of the gaps left when the state is forced to retrench. Prime Minister David Cameron coined the term “Big Society” for his plans during the election campaign but the concept left many Britons baffled.