Meddling MPs


by Rumbold
30th January, 2008 at 10:30 am    

A Liberal Democrat MP is proposing that wine should be sold in 125ml glasses, and that there should be statute to enforce this:

“The MP, a Lib Dem health spokesman, said: “In the last few years there has been a deliberate move by many bar and pub companies to phase out the traditional standard size 125ml glass of wine, and only sell the larger 175ml and 250ml size.

“In the latter case this is almost half a pint of wine.” He added: “The result inevitably has been that wine drinkers are less aware of how many units of alcohol they are drinking when they have ‘a few of glasses of wine’. “This is a real concern at a time when the figures show that alcohol related health problems are increasing, including women who drink the majority of wine purchased in bars and pubs.”

Data published by the Office for National Statistics last week suggests men drink an average of 18.7 units of alcohol a week, compared with 9.0 units for women.”

Should more pubs offer the option of wine in 125ml glasses? Yes. Should a law regulate this? No. Once again, those involved in law making have decided that since something is not perfect in their eyes, legislation is needed. This proposed law is a mere annoyance, but it is indicative of the desire of MPs, bureaucrats and others to micromanage people’s lives. Laws should be few and simple, dealing only with situations that would be much worse without law. The majority of the people should be able to understand any proposed law, even if the odd bit needs to be explained to them.

A society that needs great swathes of law is sick (in the medical sense). Not because it needs so many laws, but because when it has them this breaks down our essential humanity. There will always be people or groups who fight to retain a particular law, which is why it is so hard to take laws off the statute book. We need a reformation of mentality, shifting from a society that welcomes new laws to one that distrusts them, and which can be persuaded for the need in very few cases.

(On a general note I am sorry for my few posts, comments and tardy replies. Between sightseeing, traveling, not knowing the lay of the land and power cuts I have not been on the internet as much as I would like).


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  1. Leon — on 30th January, 2008 at 11:16 am  

    We need a reformation of mentality, shifting from a society that welcomes new laws to one that distrusts them, and which can be persuaded for the need in very few cases.

    No ‘we’ don’t we need a society of people intelligent enough to assess each on their merit; not have some blanket prejudice toward all legislation (whether for or against). Balance is key when building any society.

  2. sonia — on 30th January, 2008 at 1:23 pm  

    where are you travelling rumbold?

  3. Sunny — on 30th January, 2008 at 3:17 pm  

    I’m not sure Rumbold, because if companies are doing something against what people want, then the govt needs to hold them to account. Right?

  4. Matt W — on 30th January, 2008 at 10:06 pm  

    I suggest that speeches by Lib Dem MPs should only come in 2 minute sizes and that the relevant benches be fitted with with time delay ejector seats.

    Alternatively Lib Dem MPs should only come in 5 foot 6 inch sizes, and that those that don’t fit should have the requisite section chopped off the bottom of their legs.

    Or – preferably – in this case the top of his head.

    Interfering idiot.

    (Sunny, I’d suggest it is the responsibility of the people buying – or not buying – the product to hold them to account).

  5. Rumbold — on 31st January, 2008 at 10:30 am  

    Leon:

    “No ‘we’ don’t we need a society of people intelligent enough to assess each on their merit; not have some blanket prejudice toward all legislation (whether for or against). Balance is key when building any society.”

    I disagree. Society needs to be inherantly biased against legislation, otherwise too much of it gets through.

    Sonia:

    At the moment, just around Gwalior, and then back to Agra and Delhi for a bit.

    Sunny:

    “I’m not sure Rumbold, because if companies are doing something against what people want, then the govt needs to hold them to account. Right?”

    Wrong. If people do not like how companies behave, then they do not have to purchase their products.

    MattW:

    ” suggest that speeches by Lib Dem MPs should only come in 2 minute sizes and that the relevant benches be fitted with with time delay ejector seats.

    Alternatively Lib Dem MPs should only come in 5 foot 6 inch sizes, and that those that don’t fit should have the requisite section chopped off the bottom of their legs.

    Or – preferably – in this case the top of his head.”

    Heh. Glad that someone agrees.

  6. Jai — on 31st January, 2008 at 11:03 am  

    Rumbold,

    At the moment, just around Gwalior, and then back to Agra and Delhi for a bit.

    Aren’t you going to visit Rajasthan and Punjab anymore ? (Or has that part of your journey already been completed ?)

  7. Leon — on 31st January, 2008 at 11:16 am  

    Society needs to be inherantly biased against legislation, otherwise too much of it gets through.

    But you’re a Tory? What ever happened to meritocracy? The reasonable view to take imo is to judge each new law on the merit and context. Saying we need loads or hardly any are just two sides of the same extremist coin.

    Wrong. If people do not like how companies behave, then they do not have to purchase their products.

    Your dogmatic tone is quite a surprise…but anyway, I think you place too much faith in the market and show little understanding of how markets can be artificially created and maintained.

  8. Rumbold — on 31st January, 2008 at 11:34 am  

    Jai:

    I thought that I would make it a shorter trip than planned, and then go back a later date to visit the Punjab, Rajastan and Gujarat properly.

    Leon:

    “The reasonable view to take imo is to judge each new law on the merit and context. Saying we need loads or hardly any are just two sides of the same extremist coin.”

    No, they are not the same side of the coin. A reasonable case can be made for most proposed laws on an individual level, but all these laws build up and damage society. Nearly all laws will have at least one ‘selling’ point. Take the proposed drinking law which I linked too. Some would argue that this would reduce people’s drinking, and that it would not be much of a burden anyway because people can always buy more than one glass. I disagree, but most individual laws never sound too bad, which is why they sneak through. Then there is not enough political will to take them off the statute book.

    ” think you place too much faith in the market and show little understanding of how markets can be artificially created and maintained.”

    Large companies can survive for a time with low sales, but at the end of the day they need customers. I think you underestimate the flexibility of the market, and the ability of businessmen to spot an opening in the market.

    “What ever happened to meritocracy?”

    Sorry?

  9. Jai — on 31st January, 2008 at 12:42 pm  

    Rumbold,

    I thought that I would make it a shorter trip than planned, and then go back a later date to visit the Punjab, Rajastan and Gujarat properly.

    Ahhh, it’s a real shame you can’t make it there on your current trip, but at least you’ll be able to explore those regions properly and at length next time (totally worth it, I promise). Hopefully your trip to the awe-inspiring fort in Gwalior has given you a good taste of the whole medieval fortress/warrior vibe.

    (PS: Sorry to be pedantic, but “Rajasthan” really is spelt with an “h”, it’s not an ongoing typo on my part. I don’t know exactly why whoever decided on the post-Independence name didn’t spell it in the normal “-stan” way, but there it is ;) )

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