The Sketch: Heavy weather as MPs get to grips with Company Law Bill

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The Independent Online

It's not just me, and not just the weather. There is a very odd sense of heavy weather and nothing happening. My corner of the gallery was reduced to playing "Who The Devil's He?" You get extra points if the Doorkeeper has to consult his book (they have Special Branch memory for MP-faces). There was one handsome Tory in the third row back who none of us had ever seen before. The Doorkeeper had to phone downstairs. Bonus balls!

"One of the Croydons," he said, when he put the phone down. I could tell you the name but why? It's data, not information and will never turn into knowledge.

I say nothing's happening, but the Company Law Reform Bill has come back with 975 clauses with the prospect of a further 200. The largest piece of legislation any parliament has ever passed. Now we're famous. Like that town in America with the largest ball of twine in the world.

Someone's got to do it, you say? Well, I wonder. It all makes work for the oligarchy. The larger the legislation the less we understand what's going on.

You'll find yourself playing a real-life version of the game above: What The Devil's That? when some meaningless, onerous, pointless piece of regulation comes along to foul up your day.

Yvette Cooper's Home Improvement Packs are a very fine example. Seized with the need to make society fairer, they are now making it compulsory to sell your house with a government-approved information pack. Four thousand inspectors (4,000!) are being trained to fulfil this social duty.

It will help first-time buyers, you see (like doubling stamp duty did).

She said her packs were "a huge opportunity to improve the efficiency of the market." I almost burst into tears at that.

Ms Cooper is married to Ed Balls, who is in turn married to the Chancellor. As the Chancellor's wife-in-law she must be in the mainstream of government economic thinking. It's all downhill from here, I promise you.

Michael Gove made some penetrating points - the scheme's being launched this autumn but none of the important things have been done. But you guessed that.

Nick Herbert made a point of order. He'd put in a written question to the Home Office and been held off with a holding answer.

When he'd asked questions about the planned restructuring they took four months to answer him. Four months! Of course, he's an MP and not a member of the media, but that must be wrong.

Doesn't it undermine the idea that the Home Office can run a huge, amorphous, speculative, constantly changing project like ID cards when they take four months to answer questions on their own organisational structure?

At around this point in a government's decadence isn't it time for a Back to Basics campaign?

That usually works, doesn't it?

simoncarr75@hotmail.com

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