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One fiasco to another

The Government’s destructive mugging goes on with A-Day and Asp

noticed the other day that my 17-year-old son had bought a book with the title, Is It Just Me Or Is Everything Shit?

Well, during the past few years, not only have I felt that way but almost everyone I know feels the same. I do not think that any economy in the world has ever experienced such a serious destructive mugging than that perpetrated by Messrs Brown and Blair.

True, John Major had a fair go at screwing it up but the volume of regulation that has come out since that point in time must have knocked at least 1 per cent off the GDP and made all the protectors of this regulation completely ineffective in what they really should be doing.

Police sit on moorlands making sure that the local farmers do not go hunting or laze at the end of bus lanes making sure that only empty buses use them if they have not closed the road for some petty incident. There is so much regulation that it is difficult to find anything new to regulate.

Nevertheless, the Government is still trying to find something on which to spend huge amounts of money on Green and White Papers. This heralds the recruitment of hundreds of thousands of staff while paying zillions to management consultants on the way. Sometimes sense is seen resulting in a withdrawal such as sellers’ pack, the Child Support Agency, etc. The next one, although the Government has not spent enough billions on it yet, will be ID cards.

It is exactly the same in our own increasingly less enjoyable industry. The way things are going, A-Day is going to look the biggest fiasco of all time. First of all, providers spent hundreds of thousands making sure that pensions would take residential property. The Government then sat and thought for two minutes and realised that residential property was not going to be a good thing in pensions.

The latest fiasco is the new interpretation by an MP with less common sense than a demented wasp suggesting that the alternatively secured pension is only available for members of the Plymouth Brethren. Does this mean that the FSA will have to check everyone that manages to secure one of these devices goes to the Plymouth Brethren meeting hut every Tuesday? Otherwise it will swell the ranks of the Plymouth Brethren in direct proportion to the number of people who want an Asp. What is all the fuss – the funds in an Asp attract inheritance tax on death. The capital in a short-run annuity goes to a life company.

I thought Labour MPs would much prefer the former destination.

Worrying about whether our Asps will be subject to retrospective regulation is not half as bad as the ombudsman regime in which we live. First of all, if you have a trivial complaint which you could easily answer and know full well that there could be no possible compensation, you nevertheless still have to tell the client that he can take his complaint to the ombudsman. If he does that, we pay the cost of the decision process and when the overworked ombudsman makes a mistake not to our benefit, which I assure you does happen, we have no right of appeal. I wonder whether this is the template for Mr Blair and Mr Brown’s new democracy. It is certainly looking that way.

I have an alternative suggestion for the Government. What we need is a bill to repeal every piece of regulation enacted in the past 10 years. Now that would really improve our lives.

The trouble is that the other side of the house are not making any different noises than the red brigade. The Liberal Democrats are even worse. Well, I am still for this repealing of all regulation – perhaps the gentleman who wrote the book to which I alluded at the start of this article could then write a new book. Is it just me or is life now really worth living?

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