Action call! Consultation Paper on Non-economic Regulators: Duty to Have Regard to Growth
The unholy alliance of neoliberalism and the pursuit of economic growth.
The current Tory led coalition government has been strangling the country with its austerity measures. But, like all mainstream political and economic opinion it clings to the hope that economic growth (strictly speaking GDP growth) can be restored. One way in which it wants to promote this is to reduce the impact of regulation. Regulation is what helps reduce the likelihood that businesses and other organisations do things that are unsafe, for the public, their workers, and the ecosystem.
Good regulation has reduced pollution, reduced accidents at work, and reduced the likelihood that our food poisons us. It helps prevent the abuse of vulnerable people and it imposes basic ethical rules on commercial activity.
But now the government wants to make what they call ‘non-economic regulators’ obey a “Duty to Have Regard to Growth” in the advice and direction they provide.
In our view there are two serious problems with this.
1) It will inevitably, despite their claims that protection comes first, compromise the regulatory function, making the job of these bodies, already under attack via the usual right wing bluster about “red tape”.
2) If it were successful in promoting indiscriminate economic growth, we know that too will be a disaster for the ecological systems that support us. We’ll say it again – nobody has yet shown that the overall growth of an economy can be reconciled with with reductions in resource depletion and polluting emissions1. And insofar as this proposal also relates to bodies with an environmental responsibility (like the Drinking Water Inspectorate, Environment Agency, the Food Standards Agency, the Highways Agency, Natural England, ), it would directly affect the environment and ecosystem that provides the basis for real prosperity and survival.
What you can do.
1) Look at the consultation document at http://www.bis.gov.uk/assets/brdo/docs/publications-2013/13-684-growth-consultation.pdf
The most important thing is to answer NO to the first question (actually Q5: Should primary legislation be used to introduce a duty for regulators to have regard to growth and the economic impact of their actions? ) Most of the other questions are of the usual government, convergent, non-consultation type, that assumes you agree with the proposal in the first place). Deadline is 3 May – but please respond now in case you forget – it will only take a few minutes. It would be good if you’d let us know you’ve responded.
2) Spread the word about this nonsense.
1 See In Place of Growth p. 18-20 for the evidence.