Here are the first three dot points in the UK Coalition’s new agreed policy document (pdf) on “Business”.
- We will cut red tape by introducing a ‘one-in, one-out’ rule whereby no new regulation is brought in without other regulation being cut by a greater amount.
- We will end the culture of ‘tick-box’ regulation, and instead target inspections on high-risk organisations through co-regulation and improving professional standards.
- We will impose ‘sunset clauses’ on regulations and regulators to ensure that the need for each regulation is regularly reviewed.
The first was promised by Tony Blair over a decade ago and ran into the sand. What does it mean? Nobody knows.
The second was a major policy of the Labor Party which was implemented with some vigour – I guess the Coalition reckon that they can do more – or that they can say they can do more. Perhaps as a new government they can.
The third promise has been rattling around for decades. Think about sunsetting. Most regulation is introduced to deal with some ongoing problem. Speed limits on roads for instance. Think about sunsetting them and you can understand why talk of sunsetting is cheap, but mostly hot air.
As Amble and Chittenden put it in a report (pdf) commissioned by the British Chambers of Manufacturers in 2007:
Both 1 approach deregulation (removing existing laws) with enthusiasm, learn little or nothing from previous efforts, and have little if anything to show from each initiative.
- sides of politics when in power