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Change has come fast to Whitehall since the election. The first coalition government since the Second World War has meant that we all must do things differently, myself included

We must be ambitious in our agenda, and make dramatic changes to more than just the rhetoric. Regulation and red tape is a prime example of this; we must alter our entire approach to the business of government and transform the culture of Whitehall.


The Coalition Agreement sets out wide-ranging goals, many of which will require more social responsibility and understanding of risk from business and individuals. However, we should not assume that the way to achieve those goals is through more bureaucracy and statutory measures.


We are in difficult economic times and we need British business to be focused on building growth in the economy, not dealing with burdensome tick-box, form filling.


There were 200 new regulations planned to be introduced between May 2010 and April 2011 at a cost of more than £5 billion a year to British business. On occasion, businesses have dealt with up to 80 new regulations beginning on the same day; this is completely unacceptable and I'm determined to put a stop to it.


To make sure that this happens, we have set out an action plan that will begin to change the culture of regulation that currently pervades Whitehall.


The action plan is a radical change in the Government's approach to regulation; from introducing ‘sunset clauses' to ensure that unnecessary regulations are removed from the statute book, to introducing a one-in-one-out rule for new regulations.


The action plan will be enforced by a new Cabinet committee with the unprecedented power of being able to send draft regulations back to Departments if they over burden businesses.


The committee's first job will be to undertake an immediate review of all regulations that are due to be introduced this year, to examine how they will affect business and whether they are still required. 

But these measures are just the start. Regulation should, and will be, the last resort from now on. We want to encourage new and innovative ways of thinking about the policy issues that we are presented with.


To help make this change, we have set-up a new challenge group, which will work with experts like US behavioural economist Richard Thaler. The group will focus on imaginative non-regulatory ways to achieve the goals set out in the coalition agreement and lead the culture change in Government.

I'm not suggesting that there will be no new regulations. There will be occasions when this is the right course of action, but I want this to be the last resort.  We must explore all other practical alternatives, such as a voluntary code or insurance scheme, before we resort to more bureaucracy.


For too long, Government has taken the easy option of introducing more red-tape. The misconception that Government's job is to regulate has turned Whitehall in to a sort of regulatory treadmill. This must change; we must take this opportunity to pursue new and innovative ways of developing policy.

I know that this will require a shift in mindset and will be a challenge for all involved, but I am determined to stop tying business up in red tape and let them drive the growth that we need. 

Written by Mark Prisk MP
Tuesday, 22 June 2010 11:11

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