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Cllr. Siân Dawson
Prospective Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for Bath
Cllr. Harriet Ajderian
Prospective Labour Parliamentary Candidate for Bath
30 November 2004
This subject was topical as there had been much recent discussion in the press on the subject of Bureaucracy.
Although dictionary definition speaks of officials following an inflexible routine or authority in a complex structure of administrative bureaux, the meeting did not follow these lines.
The main concern was the growing number of Acts being proposed by Parliament controlling our lives. The ban on hunting with hounds and proposed legislation on smacking children were mentioned, although both were recognised as areas where opinions differed. There was however a general view that any new Act or regulation seemed to need a large number of officials for implementation.
In opening, Siân Dawson spoke of a new Shadow Government Post (John Redwood MP) with responsibility for the reduction of bureaucracy and red tape. Proposals would be proposed for the next Westminster election. No particular examples were discussed, but she opposed the introduction of a local income tax.
In response Harriet Ajderian put forward the view that bureaucracy was the nature of administration in a democracy. Some was complex, some was simple. Each Parish Council had an administration – one Parish Clerk. The question had been posed for the speakers ‘What is it we dislike?’ Councillor Adjerian had asked her family and friends what they understood by the word. All recognise that a bureaucracy of some kind was needed – but it was unlikely anyone would describe themselves as a bureaucrat.
Members in discussion thoughts our tax system was too complex. There was agreement that ‘Old Spanish Customs’ often mentioned were no longer needed.
The growing economic strength of China and some former Soviet countries was seen to follow the reduction in bureaucracy.
One member spoke of being part of a voluntary organisation sending retired executives to help with ventures in the Third World. Much good work had been done, but the Government had now taken over the administration and (in his view) lost the ethos that had driven it before.
The European Union was mentioned, but defenders pointed out that there were fewer people employed by the Union than were employed by Birmingham.
In conclusion, there seemed general agreement that bureaucracy should in part be reduced but few clear ways of achievement arose.