Complaints about the franchise board's hectoring stance come as no surprise to John Jackson. After all, he says, regulatory bodies often have nothing to do except put on a show

The Lloyd's Market has existed for more than 300 years on the central theme of being entrepreneurial. Lloyd's underwriters have tended to have flair, ingenuity and an independence of action envied among traditional insurers.

Even during its worst nightmares of recent years, most of the problems arose on a minority of syndicates, but Lloyd's sorted its own house out. The market emerged leaner, fitter and financially stronger as a result.

Now much of that independence has gone - everything must be `regulated'. The market must conform, fit into neat boxes that can be ticked or have a cross put in them as required.

Regulation is like a weed - unless it is kept in check, it will grow out of control and strangle the productive areas of the garden. This scenario has been the curse of the public sector.

Little wonder that there are more NHS administrators than patients, and that the government now directly employs one in four of the working population.

The insurance industry is being strangled by red tape. There is always someone around, usually with a daft job description, getting in the way of commercial progress.

Unfortunately, there is too much giving way on letting officialdom have its head. The Lloyd's franchise board seems a case in point. What looks like a good idea on paper can turn into a straitjacket in practice.

I am not in the least bit surprised at the allegations of bullying from the franchise board revealed in last week's Insurance Times. Officialdom, which produces nothing of value, usually has to shout to be heard because they are addressing people who are producing wealth, who tend not to suffer fools gladly.

But it is all part of the price of allowing this creeping bureaucracy on to a well-cultivated lawn in the first place. We are living in an Orwellian-style society that wants to regiment everything we do.

A simple question to ask of the franchise board is this: if it were not there, would its absence have an adverse effect on the Lloyd's market? Too often the non-productive side of an industry has to exert its power to justify its existence.

It is ironic that Lloyd's chairman Lord Levene should have recently been in China with the Prime Minister, seeking to extend the Lloyd's writ (I nearly said `franchise') into this vast, virtually unexplored market. Lloyd's was then seen at its entrepreneurial best.

Perhaps the franchise board need a summer break - a get-away-from-it-all atmosphere. To that end, I suggest they be put on a remote island for a few days with their own version of Big Brother.