What a naval historian can teach Scottish politicians

In 1955 naval historian & former British civil serant Cyril Northcote Parkinson in an article for The Economist first articulated Parkinson’s Law which states:

Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.

When I give someone a task to do I like to give them a short but achievable time limit because I know from experience that Parkinson’s Law is true.   If you give someone 48hrs to complete a task they’ll do it within that time.  If you give them the exact same task but five days to complete it they’ll hand it in on day 5.  Same task, different timelines.

So it comes as no suprise that PPC for Angus Sanjay Samani told me today that the number one issue with businesses, farmers and charities he’s been talking to is ‘over-regulation’.  They are weighed down by it and it’s dragging many businesses under.  In much the same way that Parkinson’s Law shows that work expands to fill the time available it appears that regulation expands to fill the powers available.

Devolution gave the Scottish Parliament a great swathe of powers, and rightly so.  However no where did it say that kids have to use all the toys in the box.  The average small business now spends 7 hours a week filling out goverment forms.

So Ken Clarke’s suggestion that we should have a ‘one in, one out’ policy sees sensible.  Which legislation should be taken out should be decided by our elected officials which would allow the electorate to lobby for change.

Regulation of societies much like surveillance of societies requires a balancing act between liberty and security.  Politicians need to think deeply about the impact of the legislation on those people it affects.

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