More state intrusion proposed by NICE

We seem to be one small step away from having government bottom inspectors telling us to spread them.  The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), the same body responsible for deciding which life saving medications can be dispensed by the NHS or withheld from patients, is reported as recommending that parents should allow health inspectors into their homes to check that windows, doors, cupboards and stairs do not pose a danger to children.

The draft proposal says that every family with sons and daughters under the age of five should agree to a home safety assessment. The thinking behind it stems from fears over the rising cost of treating injured children on the NHS. Professor Mike Kelly, of NICE’s Centre for Public Health Excellence, said that serious injuries can have a profound effect on a young child right through to adult life.  But in a clear example of doublespeak, he said:

“Our aim is not to promote a nanny state where children can’t have fun or lead normal lives, but there is an important balance to be struck between good and bad risks.”

It’s doublespeak because such a balance can only be determined by agents of the state going into people’s houses and conducting risk assessments. Under the proposals, all families with children aged five and under would be offered the checks (you can be sure there would be pressure on parents to accept them, lest they are preceived to be trying to hide something or considered not suitably worried about their child’s safety), which will cover a range of domestic hazards, including windows, stairs, taps, heaters and cookers. The proposals recommend checks on smoke and fire alarms should also be included.  One can only guess at the cost to taxpayers of such a system.

The capacity for mission creep is huge.  The proposals represent the next stage of the state’s desire to supplant parents and assume responsibility for the raising and development of children.  What next?  Inspectors visiting houses where children say parents are not convinced by arguments about global warming?  Let’s see where these ideas fit into David Cameron’s vision of a Big Society. 

Somehow I doubt the state is going to get any smaller when its agents are coming up with new ways to confer on themselves power over ordinary citizens.  Ronal Reagan hit the nail on the head when he said the nine most terrifying words in the English language are, ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.’  Like Reagan, I don’t believe in a government that thinks its role is to protect us from ourselves.

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