Sadly I doubt it will happen but I think it would be an exceptionally good idea if the next Queen’s Speech were all about housekeeping (even more than this one was). Repeal, tidy up, de-contradict… And for more than just being orderly, but because streamlining laws means that because they are less complicated, fewer people with vested interests push them to their limits, and more people choose to try something different.
Someone sent me an article yesterday about Air BnB (because they wanted to use it on a business trip), which, it says, has been declared illegal in New York City because it violates the:
illegal hotel law, which prevents residents from renting out their property for less than 29 days. According to CNET, the law originally meant to prevent landlords from turning residential properties into hotels.
It’s the same argument as the international tax avoidance one – if you want everyone to play by the rules, make them simple, make them clear, and make them as unintrusive as possible.
There’s no point complaining about a lack of initiative or a lack of inventiveness if people feel that at every turn, some big multinational or rich person has already nobbled the government by enshrining their ‘right’ to deliver whatever service they want to (as in my AirBnB example). And there’s no point in expecting anyone to actively choose to do anything other than the bare minimum when paying tax (hence why all those philanthropists so aggressively aim to reduce their taxes, when they’re apparently happy to donate larger amounts).
So rather than making things more complicated, with more laws and greater opacity, why not just for once see what happens when a government determinedly and single-mindedly decides to de-law?