Action call! Consultation Paper on Non-economic Regulators: Duty to Have Regard to Growth

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

2) Respond at http://www.bis.gov.uk/brdo/publications/current-consultations

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.

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5 Responses to Action call! Consultation Paper on Non-economic Regulators: Duty to Have Regard to Growth

  1. Pingback: Action call! Consultation Paper on Non-economic Regulators: Duty to Have Regard to Growth | Steady State Manchester | Uncommontater

  2. jhellings says:

    My replies…

    5. Should primary legislation be used to introduce a duty for regulators to have regard to growth and the economic impact of their actions?

    No.

    Absolutely not.

    The harms done to people and environment through compromised regulation would not be acceptable, especially not as contentious and inadequate a target as GDP growth.

    6. Is there an alternative means by which these objectives, described in paragraphs 2.1 to 2.5 in the Consultation Paper, could be achieved?

    Yes.

    By a redefinition of the phrase “promote economic progress” used in para 2.1. If economic progress were redefined as a the consistent restructuring of the economy to provide employment in industries that actively protected citizens through environmental and health benefits, then any measures taken by government to this end would increase overall safety and security. This would therefore be in line with any sane regulation and would obviate any need to constrain regulatory bodies.

    7. Do you agree that the duty should be complementary to existing duties?

    If complementary is meant to mean, “should be equal in consideration,” then no.

    If complementary is meant to mean, “should in no way infringe upon,” then yes.

    8. Should the duty be principles-based, for regulators themselves to interpret and apply to their operations, or should it also specify the manner in which economic growth should be supported?

    This can only be considered an attempt to garner support for a policy that is, as yet, undefined. This question is unanswerable without knowing, in reasonable detail, in what manner “economic growth” would be expected to be supported.

    To all subsequent questions I answered, “See answer to previous answered question.”

  3. Rachael says:

    Personally, I’m jolly glad the government went ahead and installed this legislation. We have become a nation (55,000+ in these 50 non-economic groups alone) of regulators. We can barely be entrusted to wipe our own arse. My business (that I work for – not own – lest you make a capitalistic assumption about me) is diminished daily due to unnecessary regulatory action. Action that doesn’t protect the consumer. Action that only exists to generate £££ for that particular quango. It’s not right wing bluster to speak of ‘red-tape’ – and I say this from a very central standpoint within the private sector. I had high hopes for this website when I stumbled upon it, but I have quickly realized it has a very leftist, somewhat sinister agenda. Shame.

    • Well we will have to disagree: while there may well be areas of regulation that are unhelpful, and that may particularly be the case for small businesses, we can’t agree that there is too much regulation. We have seen time and time again in recent years the results of insufficient regulation of the profit-seeking, not so much of SME’s but of corporate capital aka big business. The thrust of the government’s proposal was to make the regulatory function subservient to economic growth, and we saw that as a conflict of interest. I’m not sure about being very leftist, although we subscribe to the importance of sharing and planning and standing up for the oppressed – is that sinister? Only as a pun.

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