We previously alerted followers to the consultation by the UK government on imposing a duty on regulatory bodies so they would have to ‘have regard to economic growth’. We asked that people make their own responses to this consultation. The government has now published its response, and surprise surprise will go ahead with introducing this duty in new legislation.
The government response can be found at http://www.bis.gov.uk/brdo/publications/closed-consultations Here are some ‘highlights’
“1.4 117 responses were received from individual businesses, business representative
groups and trade bodies, special interest groups, regulators, professional bodies and
“2.3. Roughly a third of respondents (38) were broadly in favour of the use of primary
legislation to introduce a duty for regulators to have regard to growth and take account
of the economic consequences of their actions, and just over half (63) were broadly
against.” Yes, that is a clear majority of respondents opposing the introduction of the duty.
“2.7. Some respondents, including nine regulators, expressed concerns that a statutory
duty to have regard to growth might lead to more legal challenge or appeals against
regulators’ decisions in their particular fields. However, others were confident that a
duty to have regard to growth would not subject regulators to any further burden,
because good regulators should already be seeking to have sufficient regard to
economic considerations by applying the principles of better regulation.” So some key regulators could see the conflict that this duty would bring to the regulatory function.
“2.8. Many individual respondents [how many?] objected to a duty to have regard to economic growth in principle on environmental grounds. They either saw economic growth as incompatible with the aim of protecting the environment, or felt that the duty should be for sustainable development rather than economic growth.” The government’s response offers no answer to this key point. However they do appear to ameliorate their plan by 1, defining growth at hte level of the individual firm and not the economy as a whole and b 2 making it clear that the duty to promote growth should not override the regulatory duties, but would sit alongside them.
“6.7 Responses were also received from some regulators who expressly asked to be
exempt from the growth duty:
English Heritage and Natural England both felt they should be exempt from the
duty, because they considered they already have regard to sustainable
development through the National Planning and Policy Framework (NPPF). The
Heritage Alliance also said these two regulators should be excluded, whilst the
Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) supported the exclusion of
Natural England. It is also worth noting that 22 respondents, almost all individuals,
objected to the growth duty in principle on environmental grounds and some
mentioned environmental regulators specifically.”
Again the government simply ignores this inconvenient point.
Thanks to everyone who did respond to this important consultation.
Mark Burton, for SSM