House of Lords Library

Deregulation: Government Policy since 1997

Published Monday, July 10, 2017

This Lords Library briefing has been prepared in advance of the debate scheduled to take place in the House of Lords on 13 July on the following motion: "Baroness Andrews to move that this House takes note of the impact of deregulation on, and the role of regulatory enforcement in delivering, public services, health and safety".

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Under successive Labour governments from 1997 to 2010, regulatory policy was shaped by the idea of ‘Better Regulation’. This included the establishment of several regulatory units, such as the Better Regulation Task Force, which was tasked with improving the effectiveness and credibility of government regulation.

Throughout the Coalition Government’s time in office, there was an emphasis on reducing the total number of regulations. This included the introduction of the Deregulation Bill, which sought to remove or reduce regulatory burdens on businesses and society. The Bill received royal assent in March 2015, becoming the Deregulation Act 2015. In March 2011, the Coalition Government asked the Director of the King’s Centre for Risk Management at King’s College, Professor Ragnar Löfstedt, to consider the opportunities for reducing the burden of health and safety legislation on businesses. The report found that there were more than 380 local authorities responsible for health and safety. Professor Löfstedt recommended that legislation be changed to give the Health and Safety Executive the authority to take charge of all local authority health and safety inspections and enforcement activity, to which the Government agreed to.

Between 2015 and 2017, the Conservative Government introduced a cross-sector review, the ‘Cutting Red Tape Programme’. The Programme consisted of sectoral reviews, initially focusing on adult social care, agriculture, energy, mineral extraction and waste. By the end of the 2015–16 parliamentary session, the sectors of financial services, housebuilding and local government were included in the review. In its 2017 general election manifesto, the Conservative Party outlined its commitment to deregulation, including pledges to continue with the Red Tape Challenge and maintain a ‘one-in, two-out’ policy. However, in the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower disaster, there has been speculation as to whether the Government will continue with such plans.

Lords Library notes LLN-2017-0041

Author: Eren Waitzman

Topic: Regulation

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