Thursday 15 August 2002

Unintended consequences

This article says sensible things about Scotland's new "right to buy" proposals:
Let’s be perfectly clear. In the real world, if a landlord wishes to sell a farm, in 99 per cent of cases he sells it to the existing tenant. They strike a deal between themselves and get on with life.

But what is shattering confidence among the landlords is the risk assessment process, which concludes that there is a distinct possibility that the right being proposed could suddenly extend to an "absolute" right to buy, even when the landlord has no intention of selling. Ross Finnie says that is not on his agenda. That may be so, but there is no shortage of zealots who have it on their agendas and the minister cannot guarantee it will not happen.

The proposed legislation has already resulted in land being let only for short-term periods. The rot has already set in.

Whenever politicians interfere with the market process we get chaos and all too often the opposite of what the meddlers intend. Why can't they read Adam Smith?