That the State ought to confine itself to what regards the State, or the creatures of the State, namely, the exterior establishment of its religion; its magistracy; its revenue; its military force by sea and land; the corporations that owe their existence to its fiat; in a word, to every thing that is truly and properly public, to the public peace, to the public safety, to the public order, to the public prosperity.The creeping and suffocating mass of petty rules, regulations, licences, permissions, constraints and proscriptions enacted and enforced by what Nisbet terms 'invisible government' forms our real chains; the most proximate threat to our freedom and liberty is not the despot, but the Council prodnose, the clerk, the petty functionary. Often schooled only in one single section of one single Act of Parliament or one Statutory Instrument, these minor parasites nevertheless intrude offensively into the everyday lives of us all. As Nisbet puts it
But of far greater importance in the· realm of freedom is that invisible government created in the first instance by legislature and executive but rendered in due time largely autonomous, is often nearly impervious to the will of elected constitutional bodies. In ways too numerous even to try to list, the invisible government-composed of commissions, bureaus, and regulatory agencies of every imaginable kind-enters daily into what Tocqueville calls "the minor details of life."It's control over the funding of this 'invisible government' that will be critical to limiting and even shrinking it; Richard North's 'Referism' at a local level can deprive the State of the means of regulating and enforcing EU law in your borough, even if it can't get us out of Europe, or stop Brussels making regulations.
Take Trading Standards departments. These used to be consumer protection bodies, the people to whom you complained about shoddy goods or sub-standard work. These days, an army of barely-qualified lawyers on conditional fee agreements will undertake such work without involving the State at all; which is just as well, for the Trading Standards departments now have no time for the public. They're almost wholly engaged on enforcing EU and Parliamentary regulations, entrapping retailers in selling scissors to under-18s, making sure shops don't sell incandescent light bulbs or herbicides. So abolish 'em. Just get rid of them. It's do-able.
Let's get a list together of all the useless regulatory functions carried out by our councils. An FOI request will reveal the cost, and passing the details to your local paper will give them the ammunition - that the council is closing the library, but keeping half a dozen prodnoses to spy on shops to see if they sell booze to teens.
The legislation may require councils to enforce these petty regulations, but it doesn't prescribe the resources that must be applied. If we can get our local councils down to a single clerk responsible for enforcing the lot, we'll still be within the law. But our lives will become immeasurably better.