There seems to be an inexorable rise in legislation and regulation which does more harm than good.

This is not just a Scottish phenomenon. Take for example the misuse by Robert Maxwell of funds within the Mirror Group pension fund. A genuine scandal but which ratcheted up an already swelling tide of regulation of the pension industry. Increased oversight is no bad thing but interference in investment policy and above all the confusion of volatility with risk now means that British pensions and life insurance companies, which used to dominate investment in the UK stockmarket, now hardly allocate much investment there at all.

The result is reduced liquidity and poorer valuations which increasingly drive companies to other markets and reduce the value of our savings. The London stock market, once a global leader, no longer sits comfortably in the premier division.

You can perhaps forgive the UK Government for introducing its post-Maxwell investment reforms because there was a genuine issue and the detrimental effects of its actions have taken years to unfold.

Less forgivable are some of the recent legislative interventions by the Scottish Government.

That capping residential rents would reduce the supply of houses for rent and actually drive up rentals was entirely predictable. The Scottish Government were told again and again that examples from all round the world showed that intervening in the rental market always leads to fewer and poorer homes for rent. Did they listen? They did not.


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The Scottish Government's proposed changes to gender recognition are another example. We were told by Nicola and Co that it was about being a decent and progressive country. Many people warned about the harmful effects of the legislation, not on a tiny minority but on all women. They were ignored or vilified. Subsequent events have proved that those who worried were right to do so.

The Scottish Government has not learnt from its past stupidities.

The war on landlords continues with new variations of rent control proposed and a requirement to meet tighter energy performance targets long before owner occupiers have to do so. Owner occupiers have lots of votes, you see.

Landowners are now being targeted with proposed legislation which will damage the viability of Highland communities and introduce state interference which can only lead to disaster. Our Government plays to the gallery yet again.

The hate crime legislation which eventually seems set to come into force at the beginning of April is another example. The genuinely hateful things the Act is supposed to guard against are, in fact, already crimes under existing legislation. The wording of the new Act is muddled and open to wide interpretation yet the police must treat it as a priority.

Is it not obvious that if an already stretched police force have to enforce this legislation they will have less time to investigate things like burglaries? Is it not also obvious that the legislation will have a chilling effect on free speech? Who wants a "non-crime hate incident" noted against their record.

The Hate Crime Act is a mess and should just be scrapped. Will First Minister Humza Yousaf swallow his pride and do so? I rather doubt it.

The more important question is what can be done to avoid such nonsense in the future?

The best thing would be to get rid of the current Scottish Government which must surely have proved beyond doubt its incompetence in every sphere of public life. We must leave that to voters and wait until 2026 but other things could be done.

The first thing would be to reattach the legislators to the real world. We have in Holyrood MSPs who have overwhelmingly done little in real life. We are told somebody is a rising star when all they have done outside politics is be a solicitor for a few months or, in Yousaf's case, worked in a call centre for a short while. The self-congratulation is laughable.

The Herald: Humza YousafHumza Yousaf (Image: free)

People who have no experience of real working life and have a mission to pursue will inevitably make bad laws. What about making it a requirement of an MSP that they must either have spent 10 years doing something outside politics or must work at least one day a week in a real job while they are in Parliament?

The second would be to improve our committee system. The SNP/Green coalition hold majorities on the committees and slavishly support poor Government proposals. Why not have some people from outside Parliament also sit on the committees so that no Government of the day has an automatic majority?

Finally, have real consultations. The Scottish Government does go through the motions of consulting on its proposals but has a bad habit of ignoring the valuable feedback those consultations provide. The odd tweak is made but generally they push on with what they wanted to do anyway. Poorly conceived and impractical legislation is the result.

The Government should be required to pay attention to what citizens say on its proposals. We are their master and the ballot box should not be the sole expression of that fact.