The newspapers this week went to town on the government's record since 1997 of creating over 3,000 new laws.
It is 10.00 p.m. and the first meeting of LA (Legislator's anonymous) is about to begin:
Chair: Well good evening everyone and welcome to LA. Let's go round and introduce ourselves.
Person 1. Hello. My name is Tony and I've been a legislator for the past 9 years.
The group continue round.
Chair: At this point perhaps it would be helpful if I outlined the twelve step programme we sign up to here to rid ourselves of the demon of law-making.
Step 1: We find a girl to love - oh sorry that's another meeting - we admit we are powerless over edicts and decrees - our lives have become unmanageable due to the overwhelming desire to make rules for others to live by.
Step 2: We come to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
Peter: Hello Brussels calling.
Chair: I said greater power...
John: Not the bloody Tories. How sane is that?
Chair: (Continuing) Later, John, later.
Step 3: We make a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understand him.
Tony: Hey thanks fellers, good rule.
Chair: Don't be silly or I'll have to get that nice Mr Reid to come in.
Tony: Sorry. Sorry.
Chair: (Continuing) Good, now...
Step 4: We make a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. Stop sniggering John.
Step 5: We admit to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
All: Another human being? You mean own up.
Chair: Own up indeed. You won't stop governing the size of the Polish potato import if you don't admit it's none of your business.
Step 6: We are entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
Step 7: We humbly asked him to remove our shortcomings.
Step 8: We make a list of all persons we have harmed, and become willing to make amends to them all.
Tony: What even the dead ones? Come on.
Chair: (Continuing) Don't be silly Tony...
Step 9: We make direct amends to such people whenever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
Step 10: We continue to take a personal inventory and when we are wrong promptly admit it.
Ruth: We what?
Chair: Promptly admit it.
Ruth: Can't we just let standards slip a little, later on, or not police those laws which fail to achieve what we intend?
Chair: You've got to really, actually change; not just look as if you've changed.
David: (Voice off) I heard that.
Chair: (Ploughing on) Almost there...
Step 11: We seek through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understand him, praying only for knowledge of his will for us and the power to carry that out.
Ruth: (Sinisterly) I already know what he wants me to do.
Tony: Glad you read the briefing Ruth. Good girl, good girl.
Ruth: Not you.
Chair: (As ever)...
Step 12: Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we try to carry this message to other addicted regulators, and to practice these principles.
Tony: So I move we pass this motion and then we get Margaret to mock up a white paper for discussion and then we proceed to take it through Parliament.
John: Poor Margaret. Serves her right for being on holiday.
Chair: Er, wait a minute everyone. Are we sure we need another rule to make this happen?
John: How can we check it's been done if we haven't got a record? I move.
John: Now who wants a cup of tea?
John: Unanimous. Let's go.
Chair: Wait. Wait. (Primal scream) Wait!