Tory MPs 'seek to roll back state'


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A group of Tory MPs from the 2010 intake today set out a programme of "principled conservatism" to roll back the state and hand more power to individuals and businesses.

Some of the measures outlined in a pamphlet for think-tank Politeia, such as the reversal of EU directives on renewable energy and deregulation in employment law, threaten to cause friction with the Conservatives' Liberal Democrat coalition partners.

But others, like a fully-elected House of Lords, put the group on collision course with the right wing of their own party, who are fiercely opposed to reforms proposed in this month's Queen's Speech.

North-East Somerset MP Jacob Rees-Mogg, who initiated the pamphlet along with Cleethorpes MP Martin Vickers, said that the "common thread" running through it was the idea of a principled conservatism which "backs the individual against the state" and trusts people to make decisions for themselves.

Among proposals in the pamphlet are greater participation of voters at every level of the state, from local referendums to directly-elected mayors and an elected Upper House; deregulation and tax breaks for businesses; more involvement of companies in vocational and entrepreneurial education in schools; and the phasing-out of police cautions to ensure that offenders find themselves before the courts.

Mr Rees-Mogg accepted that there would be losers from some of the deregulation proposed in the pamphlet, which also features contributions from Tory MPs Zac Goldsmith, James Morris, Jason McCartney, John Stevenson, Craig Whittaker, Fiona Bruce, Simon Reevell and David Mowat.

But he said: "If society is wrapped in cotton wool it will never prosper. Naturally, there needs to be some safety net for those who fail but unless some are allowed to fall none will be able to climb...

"Freedom, and the responsibility that comes with it, is a general provider of opportunity and success, it unleashes latent talents and encourages the taking of risks.

"However, it only works if there are also failures. The choice is, the collective and constant mediocrity - or, freedom and great peaks of human endeavour."

Politeia director Sheila Lawlor said: "Too many people suffer from the problems highlighted here - businesses have been squeezed by penal tax and employment costs; school-age children are denied the education or training needed for a better life; lawlessness is treated as a matter of 'cautioning' rather than dealt with by the magistrates' courts, many of which have been closed.

"Meanwhile, the creeping power of unelected officials has made central and local government seem impervious to the people.

"Here, by contrast, Jacob Rees-Mogg and his co-authors suggest that the solution to many of the problems with which we contend today will be found by individuals taking the initiative and government playing its part in setting them free to do so."