Rules Britannia

This latest report from UK think tank IEA looks at regulation in the UK.

In our political discourse there is much discussion of red tape, frequently phrased in terms of ‘challenges’ and ‘bonfires’ to reduce and cut it. Supporters of free markets often have a general feeling that there is too much regulation or that it is too intrusive, badly formulated and ineffective. However, proponents of these positions are often lacking in empirical evidence so are susceptible to accusations of either exaggerating the impact of regulation or not caring about the environment, workers, children or consumers, when often the opposite is true. Supporters of free markets value and recognise the importance of all of these and believe that market solutions, and less state regulation, would improve the situation for them, as well as improve prospects for economic growth. The Regulatory Affairs Programme will examine regulators and regulation across a range of sectors and test the performance of the UK’s regulatory measures and institutions. This will help in understanding the scale and scope of regulators’ powers and where they are operating effectively, as against their own remit and in objective terms. It will provide both an empirical and normative basis for challenging existing regulators and regulations. We start this paper with a high-level review of regulation as a concept, and set out the principles that will underpin the work of the programme. This will be followed by a series of studies of regulation in specific cases, covering particular commercial activities such as financial services and energy, economy-wide or horizontal regulators such as the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) and the Information Commissioner’s Office, and civil society regulators such as the Electoral and Charity Commissions.

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