Sunday, September 03, 2006

Legislative scrutiny.

One of the perils of being a statist is having to come up with excuses for the ridiculous decisions of governments. It's worse when it is a government of your own party whose balls-up you have to explain away.

So I can appreciate the pain the folks at The Daily are currently suffering. The source of their discomfort is the Employment Equality (Age) Regulations which will come into force shortly.
It allows employers to pay younger workers either the youth minimum wage or the same rate as other workers but not anything in between.

So, if you’re employing a 19 year old and a 22 year old to do the same job, you can decide to pay them both £6 an hour. Or you can pay the 19 year old worker £4.25 an hour and the 22 year old £6 an hour.

But it is illegal to decide that the 19 year old deserves a pay rise and give them £5 an hour. Perhaps there is a good reason for that, but it escapes us at the moment.

Me too. Presumably you can't ever pay an outstanding 17 year old more than a merely competent 22 year old either. Poor old Theo Walcott eh?

It gets worse though.

Even more bizarre is Schedule 1 of the regulations, which defines the Norwegian sector of the Frigg Gas Field. There is no reference to this elsewhere in the regulations, the Explanatory Notes, or in the Hansard of the Committee which passed the measure.

What on earth is going on? Has the Government given away part of the Gas Field via secondary legislation? Or is this a practical joke by civil servants that no-one’s noticed until it was on the statute book?

Bizarre is the word. My money would be on someone having cut and pasted something in error, and in the avalanche of new regulation nobody having noticed. An indictment of the quality of the legislative process in this country if ever I saw one.

Still, imagine the chaos if things were left to the market.