What triggered this off was a piece in the Telegraph business section, Monday week last, which asked their readers for nominations "for the central or local government agency associated with the most mind-bogglingly frustrating piece of red tape during 2004." Yet, while all the suggestions offered in the piece referred to British agencies, most to the examples cited were of EU law.
We drew attention to this in the Blog, inviting our readers to write in to the piece author, nominating the EU commission’s DG Environment as "the central government agency" associated with the most mind-bogglingly frustrating piece of red tape
And bless you all – you did! In yesterday's Telegraph (I'm having to catch up), headed: "By a red tape mile, the winners are…!, it turned out that: "Environmental rule makers from here to Brussels take top spot in our inaugural awards”. DG Environment got the "Telegraph Regulatory Creep of the Year".
Initially, according to Richard Tyler, "reader despair was directed at the Financial Services Authority, with Customs & Excise, the Health & Safety Executive, Inland Revenue and the Treasury all picking up votes."
After a slow start, Patricia Hewitt's Department of Trade and Industry and Margaret Beckett's Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs then came into contention. And then, Tyler writes: "At the same time, the European Commission's directorate for environmental regulations picked up votes." The final count saw Defra and the EC's (sic) environment directorate tie for the top spot.
We don't begrudge sharing the poll position with Defra – they do indeed produce some pretty foul legislation, unaided by Brussels, even if most of their stuff comes directly from that source.
What was doubly pleasing, though, was that Matthew Farrow, head of environment at the CBI, said he was surprised environmental regulation had come out top in the voting.
It suggested, he said, that the constant stream of new regulations was wearing businesses down. "It's the sheer volume of EU regulations," he said. "There have been over 200 directives on the environment and 32 EU-driven regulations on are in the pipeline".
With faith in our readers, we weren't surprised. Perhaps Mr Farrow should read the Blog. He might lean something.
"Readers", according to Richard Tyler, "were keenly aware that most of the environmental regulations were emanating from Brussels." He cites Denis Cooper, a regular visitor and commenter on our Blog, wrote: "The Regulatory Creep of the Year must live in Brussels, not London, and the worst could be whatever section deals with environment."
Harry Randall, another frequent guest on the Blog, "agreed". He wrote: "For the sheer scale of stupidity of its imposts, I nominate DG Environment. It, not the Environment Agency, was responsible for reclassifying everyday items like computers and fluorescent lights as hazardous, and it produced the legislation that required the number of sites licensed to deal with such waste to be slashed from 182 to 14."
Harry was good enough to tell us that he had lifted the text of his nomination straight off the Blog. His accolade in the Telegraph was well deserved.
What also must have helped was a mention of the award in Christopher Booker's column on Sunday, with Booker also launching his own award with the following words:
I hereby offer a first edition of The Great Deception, the history of the European Union that I wrote with Dr Richard North, as the Elephant in the Room Award 2005. This will be given to the person who spots the most crassly naive example of someone blaming the British Government for a bureaucratic imposition that in fact originates from our real government in Brussels. Special marks will be awarded for spotting contributions from politicians, such as the MP for Henley, who are paid by taxpayers to know better.Go to it Bloggers… make Booker’s day! You know it makes sense!
(If you want to e-mail suggestions to Booker, send them to us on the Blog and we will make sure they are passed on.)