Quite right

He said: “We need to do more to improve the supply side of the economy. This means taking on difficult vested interests.”

But of course it\’s not just the unions and the planning system that need that reform.

The whole damn system of regulation needs to be shaken up.

Just as an example, it is illegal to manufacture apricot marmalade for sale. It\’s an EU thing, quite where compotes come in preventing Germany from invading France again I\’m not sure. But that is the system we\’ve now got.

I\’m also not quite sure where the freedom to manufacture and offer for sale apricot marmalade would come in the pecking order of things that would boost growth: not very high up I suspect.

But it is an example of the way in which the precautionary principle, allied with the continental style of civil or Roman law, has taken hold. You are deliberately prevented from doing new things because the rules say you must have permission to do new things.

Which is rather a dampner on innovation and innovation is the key to long term growth.


We need to return to an older legal structure, that of the Common Law. You may do anything that isnot illegal, not our current system of prescribing what is legal for you to produce. Yes, this does mean entirely overturning the precautionary principle.

18 thoughts on “Quite right”

  1. France is a glaring example of the continental style of doing things. They have armies of bureaucrats with draconian powers to enforce people to pay taxes and to enforce their regulations. Without the black economy no small or medium size business could survive. Without tourism I suspect France would be a 3rd rate economy.

  2. Tim,

    I am forced, respectfully, to disagree with you in the strongest possible terms.

    Apricot Marmalade is an abomination that lies in wait for the unsuspecting visitor, assualting them when they are at their most vulnerable, viz at breakfast time when noone can be expected to focus properly and the visual distinction between actual marmalade and apricot jam is not sufficient.

    Won’t someone please think of the children?

  3. Where does Tim get this idea that on the continent everything is banned unless it is allowed? It’s true there is too much licensing, regulation, and form-filling, but there isn’t a list of specified permissible activities other than for certain specific activities which are banned unless you have the license, permission, regulatory requirements and correctly filled-in forms (selling drugs is a good example). And the good old common-law UK is as good at requiring this if not better than most of the rest of Europe.

  4. Without tourism I suspect France would be a 3rd rate economy.

    Kinda. Their multinationals are allowed to do whatever they like, which helps keep the cash rolling in.

  5. There is no such thing as “apricot marmalade”, so a ban on manufacturing it is logically equivalent to a ban on building perpetual motion machines.
    Marmalade is, by definition, made from citrus fruits.

    Tim adds: Ah, but EU legislation (it is a criminal offence carrying up to 6 months pokey to breach it) states that you can only use oils of citrus in marmalade, and marmalade can only be made from citrus fruits. It is quite specific, that you cannot add oil of citrus to jams made of not citrus fruit.

    But perhaps a blend between these two stykles might actually be viable? Make apricot jam but add oils of citrus to give it a tang like marmalade?

    Oooop! Go straight to jail for 6 months, do not pass go.

    Which really isn’t how to encourage innovation, is it?

  6. John77 is quite right. There is no such thing as apricot marmalade. Marmalade can only be made of citrus fruits, because the whole point is that the sweetness of the jelly is given added piquancy by the bitterness of citrus rind. So all the EU is saying is that a jam or jelly made from apricots should not be sold as a marmalade (because it isn’t), and that adding essential oils of citrus to a non-citrus fruit jam or jelly does not make it a marmalade (because it doesn’t include the essential marmalade ingredient of citrus rind).

    I really can’t see anything contentious in this.

  7. By way of an afterthought, I’m reminded of the squeals of outrage in the British tabloids when the EU banned the use of the term “ice cream” to describe the appalling confection of pig fat, vegetable oils and sugar which used to be sold in the UK under that name, and which had no connection whatsoever with any form of dairy product. It was no coincidence that Walls were big in both sausages and “ice cream” – they just wanted to use every bit of the pig.

    I’ve no objection to anyone selling a frozen mixture of pork fat and sugar, but I’m thankful to the EU for making it illegal to call the result “ice cream”.

  8. Philip Scott Thomas

    Marmalade can only be made of citrus fruits…

    Really? Says who?

    Hey, Tim. What’s the Portugese word for “quince”?

    Tim adds: Why, that would be “marmelada”. But that’s in a different section: it is similarly a 6 month jail sentence for adding leaves of the apple geranium tree (ie, laurel) to jams, jellies, extra jams, extra jellies or even marmalades, unless the jam, jelly, extra jam, extra jelly or even marmalade, is made of quinces.

    At which point the bureaucrats can fuck right off and innovation shall reign.

  9. @ Philip Scott Thomas: Oh for heaven’s sake. Common usage and informed opinion, that’s who.

  10. Sigh…no, Tim, apple geranium is not “laurel”, though I’m not at all sure you understand what is meant by the term – there are many laurels, some of which are commonly used in cookery, like bay leaves, and some of which are poisonous. Unless you are genuinely suggesting that it would be legitimate to sell poisonous marmalade.

    And, yes, I am aware of the etymology of the word marmalade = quince. And your point is what?

  11. @ Philip Scott Thomas
    The Oxford English Dictionary
    If you start using foreign words with the same spelling you will start to say that Jean is a man’s name.

  12. Philip Scott Thomas


    LOL. So I checked my OED (Shorter edition, 1933). No contradictions there.

    As for ‘Jean’ being a man’s name, you mean like the utterly cool Jean Reno? 🙂

  13. @Philip Scott Thomas: You seem to think that the fact that an Austrian farmer once tried to sell apricot jam labelled as marmalade proves that apricot jam is, in fact, marmalade, as if labelling makes things so. With respect, I do not find this to be a powerful argument.

  14. The legislation says that it’s completely legal to make apricot jam, put citrus oils in it, label it as apricot jam with citrus oils, and sell it.

    It’s not just legal to label it as apricot marmalade The reason it’s not legal to label it as apricot marmalade is because there is a specific law that regulates the usage of the term ‘marmalade’.

    Now, you may think that having a law regulating the usage of the term ‘marmalade’ is silly, and that people should be allowed to sell any budget gelatin + water + artificial citrus flavour concoction as ‘marmalade’. That’s fine; I’m not sure I’d disagree.

    But English law, *long* before the EU was a glint in Churchill’s eye, has regulated the use of words when selling products for reasons of consumer protection. It has done this in exactly the same way as the EU – by creating specific laws that say “From now on, it is illegal to use this term unless…”.

    In other words, whatever the EU’s other flaws, the whole bullshit Tim keeps trying to push that “what isn’t expressly permitted is forbidden” is bullshit, and the whole concept of explicit laws regulating the use of words when selling things is something England had 500 years ago.

    Tim adds: “The legislation says that it’s completely legal to make apricot jam, put citrus oils in it, label it as apricot jam with citrus oils, and sell it.”

    No, you can’t. You can’t use the word “jam” if it has oils of citrus in it.

  15. Sorry, you’re right, I confused my citrus peel & juice with my citrus oils. You’d have to call it Apricot-Based Spread instead.

    So, that’s one silly clause, expressly laid down in law, in exactly the same way that English law does (e.g. cider can contain vinegar, but can’t contain any fruit juice other than apple or pear).

    It still does absolutely nothing to support your surreal assertion about European law banning everything which isn’t explicitly permitted.

  16. @ Philp Scott Thomas
    Concise 11th Edition 2006 is a higher court than a pre-war version of the “Shorter”.
    “a preserve made from citrus fruit, especially bitter oranges”

    Jean Reno is so cool that I have never even heard of (?)her before now

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