One in, one out?

As a campaigner  for deregulation I have continued to take an interest in what the government proposes. Chosen sensibly, getting rid of rules and regulations can give business an effective tax cut at no cost to Treasury. Even better, it can also result in savings for government itself.

The Coalition government has not adopted my proposal of regulatory budgets. These would apply to each department, and require them to reduce the costs they impose year by year to an agreed timetable. It has instead adopted the policy of “One in, One out”. For every new Regulation they say they will repeal one of similar weight.

Ever keen  to assist with a good idea, I asked a series of Parliamentary questions to see how the departments are getting on. The table below is revealing:

6 months figures for regulations introduced and regulations removed, with net balance introduced:

Communities and Local Government  plus 21       minus    40         total -19

Department for Environment                 +31              _45                  -14

Cabinet Office                                                0                 0                     0

International Development                            0                 0                     0

Foreign Office                                                0                 0                      0

Defence                                                           +4                0                    +4

Treasury                                                         +9               -2                    +7

Home  Office                                                 +10              -2                    +8

Culture Media and Sport                              +11              -3                    +8

Energy and climate change                        +14               0                     +14

Transport                                                        +15               0                     +15

Health                                                               +19              -2                     +17

Work and Pensions                                         +31              -11                   +20

Business                                                          +20               0                     +20

Justice                                                              +22              -1                     +21

TOTALS                                                           +207          -106                  +101

Both Local Government and Environment have been impressive and active in rolling back needless and less desirable regulation, and account for more than 80% of the repeals. Business and Work and Pensions account for a quarter of all the new regulation : the Business department figure is worrying as they should be keen on deregulation.

The figures are as defined and supplied by government departments. The Statutory Instrument  is not a unit of account that can be relied on, but it does give us some indication of which departments are entering into the spirit of the One In One Out policy. I will be following up to see if the other departments start to repeal, and get the idea behind the policy.

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24 Comments

  1. lifelogic
    Posted December 11, 2010 at 7:13 am | Permalink

    One in one out is I suppose slightly better than nothing but so simplistic and childish as to be nonsense in practice.

    There is so much over regulation that many to whom it applies could not even have time to read, let alone understand and apply them. Often too the regulators do not know or will claim things are regulated (you have to do this or that) but you later find it was not true. It also ties in with an industry pushing new products, consultancies, industry bodies, legal advice lines and more.

    So this year you need one alarm the next a different emergency door or light and your alarm is now out of date.

    As an example try getting through to anyone at HMRC who knows what they are taking about on anything other than the basics. I have on many occasions been given two opposite answers to the same question then called again to clarity and been given a third new answer.

    The answer is to get the regulating process out of the hands of people who have a vested interest in ever more regulation and licensing. Also to grant a general defence where rules that can be shown to be pointless or worse.

    Further the costs of regulation should not fall on the regulated industry as yet another tax but on the regulator. Otherwise the regulator will just get bigger and bigger with more and more gold plated regulations until it sucks all the life out of the industry it regulates.

    The law which forces the, often far less reliable, new complex condensing boilers on to people in order to save less gas than is used by the van doing the additional repairs thus needed. Is a typical example of the nonsense.

    • lifelogic
      Posted December 11, 2010 at 7:20 am | Permalink

      And of course you need to get out of (or completely change) the EU to have any chance as they are one of the main sources of nonsense regulations and one of the main reasons you cannot get rid of things either.

      • Mike Stallard
        Posted December 11, 2010 at 8:51 pm | Permalink

        Climate change (our future electricity?), health, business (more economic recovery?), transport – up in leaps and bounds.

  2. HK
    Posted December 11, 2010 at 8:32 am | Permalink

    It would be helpful if you could also show with this list (or next time you post it) which is Conservative-led and which is LibDem-led – e.g. Energy & Climate Change is LibDem-led (Chris Huhne) and Defense is Conservative-led (Liam Fox).

    By my very quick tot up, Conservative-led departments have added 164 and removed 104 (net +60). The LibDems have added 43 and removed 2 (net +41).

  3. alan jutson
    Posted December 11, 2010 at 9:58 am | Permalink

    Forgive me, but how does, one in one out REDUCE regulation.

    When I went to School (some 50 yerars ago), and it was only a bog Standard Secondary Modern (not Eton, Westminster or some other Public version), I was taught by my Mathematics teacher that one, less one, equals nil. !!!!!

    Perhaps things have changed since I was at School, If they have, then that may explain why our finances are in such chaos.

    • alan jutson
      Posted December 11, 2010 at 11:16 am | Permalink

      Not sure if following LETTER from HM Revenue & Customs is a new Regulation or simply a directive, which does not count in your Regulation count.

      Our records show that you have fewer than 50 employees in your PAYE Scheme on 31st October 2010.
      This means that for 2011-2012 you MUST
      file your starter and lever information (P45 Part1, P45 Part3, P46 (Pen) and P46(Expat) online AND
      file your Employer Annual Return (P35 and P14s) online by 19th May

      WE MAY CHARGE YOU PENALTIES IF YOU DO NOT DO THIS.

      You can ask a payroll agent to send these forms online to you.

      We will not issue any further reminders to you about your online filing obligations in future years.

      NOTE: You should not order paper P14s from the Employer Orderline when you are required to file them online.

      If you send this information to us on paper, when you should have sent it online, we may charge you a penalty. For more advice go to hmrc.gov.uk/inyear.

      Exemptions from filing online.
      a practicing member of a religious society or order whose beliefs are incompatible with the use of electronic communications.
      or a care and support employer etc etc.

      It then goes on to explain how to register to file online, because you cannot file online if you do not register. a telephone number to ring to arrange to go on a course on how to file online.

      John I am all for making things as efficent as possible, but it is now getting to the point, that if you do not have a reliable internet service, (and many do not) then you will automatically be excluded from the normal workings of Govenment, and be constantly fined.

      We already have a culture in HM Customs and Revenue that you appear guilty until you can prove you are innocent, with automatic fines for late returns, is this yet another act of the big brother State.

      From a personal point of view and for security, I do not Bank online or hold any Bank details on a computer which has internet access. How long before HM Reveune and Customs refuse to accept cheques as payment, but insist all payments are made online.

      • alan jutson
        Posted December 12, 2010 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

        John
        Perhaps you have not posted above comment yet because you cannot find a link to verify it.

        Other than my own Companies PAYE ref, all I can give you is date printed November 10th 2010.
        Bottom left corner MP(S) (BAND3)
        Bottom Right corner HRMC 09/10
        Also refers to http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/paye/forms-publications/register.htm

  4. Acorn
    Posted December 11, 2010 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    Quite a way to go to catch up with British Columbia. It did a clause by clause dissection of its regulations. This gives you a bigger total than counting SIs. Mind you, they had a lot of lobbying from vested interests that did not want to loose the monopolies that the regulations gifted them.
    http://www.tted.gov.bc.ca/sfbc/Progress/Pages/default.aspx

  5. michael read
    Posted December 11, 2010 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    Your initiative would be more impressive if each department published their budgets annually.

    This would enable you to assess whether the “in and out” option had any real impact on these budgets which was obviously the intention of your favoured proposal.

    Otherwise, it would appear to be case of “the-operation-was-a-complete-success-unfortunately- the patient-died” by which I mean regulations have been cut but costs have risen.

    The “Sir Humphrey” solution is, one suspects, likely to be true.

  6. Denis Cooper
    Posted December 11, 2010 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    About half of the new regulations derive from the EU, according to most recent estimates from the House of Commons Library.

    “How much legislation comes from Europe?”

    Research Paper 10/62 13 October 2010.

    http://www.parliament.uk/briefingpapers/commons/lib/research/rp2010/RP10-062.pdf

    In the table on page 22, the formula

    [EU regulations & EU-related SIs]

    divided by

    [EU regulations & total SIs]

    is used to estimate what proportion EU regulations and EU-related UK laws form out of the total volume of UK laws, including all EU regulations, regardless of how or whether they are formally implemented, and for the years between 1997 and 2009 the answers range between 37% and 65%, average about 47%.

    A big step closer to reality than the 9% they previously said, but I think maybe they still haven’t got the complete picture including the full impact of ECJ case law.

  7. Mark M
    Posted December 11, 2010 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    Good post HK – Conservatives are on a 1.58 to 1 ratio, LibDems 21.5 to 1. Says a lot about each party’s will to do something about the size of government.

  8. waramess
    Posted December 11, 2010 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

    Lifelogic you make so much sense and state it so simply.

    My great relief is that I am not a part of this government which masquerades as a Conservative Liberal alliance but is nothing of the sort. If I were I might also have to make weak muted gestures in favour of its actions when in truth they should be vilified for their purile performance so far.

    We are where we are: Cameron has castrated the right by forging a pact with the liberals and anyone wanting a job had better take note. My sympathies are with the right who have been outmanoevered and are now stuck with a party that in their wildest dreams would not be one of their choosing: but where else might they find gainful employment without taking a disproportionate risk?

    We need someone not of the calibre of Margeret Thatcher but of someone ten times her calibre and there is no one. So we are lost.

    But, being lost is not the end for there are many other economies where we might go, and thanks to this age of technology we may still read the Redwood blog

  9. Alte Fritz
    Posted December 11, 2010 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

    These figures are shocking. They appear to show, as already observed, that the increasing burden of regulation is unavoidable so long as we remain in the EU. Since we shall not leave, nor will the EU cease to govern by interference, we are stuck with it.

  10. Ken
    Posted December 11, 2010 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

    I assumed, perhaps naively, that new laws were costed before they were put to Parliament so that a cost/benefit rationale could be constructed.

    Is this not the case?

  11. Tom
    Posted December 11, 2010 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

    I wrote to Johne Penrose, then Shadow Minister for Business, after his firm promise at the Conservative Conference that the Conservatives would introduce a one in – one out policy. I asked how this would apply to EU regulations and legislation.

    He replied “The short answer to your question is that we will apply the ‘one-in, one-out’ system to EU rules and regulations too. When new EU Directives are being drafted, UK negotiators will have to assess the regulatory burden of the possible options which are being discussed and get clearance from the Westminster cabinet before they go to Brussels to discuss and agree them. Then, once the Directive is agreed, the UK laws which are passed to give it force will also have to go through the same ‘one-in, one-out’ process to make sure our civil service doesn’t gold plate them too.”

    Clearly neither part of this promise has been kept (not that I really expected that it would be). Is this because of the Lib/Dems or because it was it was just spin for the election?

  12. NickW
    Posted December 11, 2010 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

    In the interests of simplifying the tax system;

    Why not publicly and permanently link taxation levels to the Laffer curve for that tax, thereby maximising revenue and minimising taxation.

    It would put the Socialists in the position of having to argue for decreased revenue and less public services if they wanted to raise taxation for their own spiteful and vindictive reasons.

  13. Johnny Zero
    Posted December 11, 2010 at 10:52 pm | Permalink

    John,

    You wonder why the Voters dispair of their Politicans, who have promised radical reductions of red tape and stupid regulations, yet still manage to allow their Departments to create more. It seems that the only successful Minister is Pickles. he really HATES civil servants and is doing a great job sorting them out.

  14. Posted December 12, 2010 at 12:26 am | Permalink

    “One in one out” was a Labour policy following on from the ‘Hapmton Review’ and all that stuff on ‘better regulation’ – your lot are just continuing it on the wishes of the CBI/Department for Business revolving door/gravy train and Sir Humphrey.

    It’s no different to your ‘regulatory budgets’ anyway. It’s not about removing one statutory instrument every time a new one comes in, it uses the figures on ‘regulatory burdens’ disclosed in the civil servants’ ‘economic impact assessments’ which are usually based on junk economics.

    Sorry to be a party pooper, but since your lot ditch the housing benefit reforms I’m not in the mood to humour you.

  15. Stuart Fairney
    Posted December 12, 2010 at 5:35 am | Permalink

    Thank you for posting this, it perhaps puts a lie to the notion that the conservatives are natural deregulators and offers further proof that their is the merest gossamer between the major parties. Whilst we are allowed to vote to change the personnel, the fundamental policies remain whilst we stay wedded to the Lib/Lab/Con parties.

    If we want real change, we will need to vote for someone else.

  16. Robert K
    Posted December 12, 2010 at 9:16 am | Permalink

    It’s a rare type of centre-left government, which is what we have now, that cuts back regulation. Once in power, the urge to play with the levers of control is irresistable.

  17. Martin
    Posted December 12, 2010 at 11:41 am | Permalink

    One in one out – sounds great in principle. Reality is the quality and value of what is added or removed.

    The government should be careful it is not creating a rod to be beaten or ridiculed with. (e.g. have the “HMS Ark Royal not going aground” regulations been repealed sort of thing)

    • Mark
      Posted December 12, 2010 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

      How Astute of you!

  18. steveredfern
    Posted December 13, 2010 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

    You may wish to note the following example of regulation costs.

    We are currently trying to build a two storey end of terrace extension in London and cannot move in until it is completed. The process has so far taken 5 months to obtain planning permission, during which the verbal agreement was reversed and we had to reduce the area and make the work of borderline worth, despite no objections from neighbours. We now are trying the obtain Building Regulati approvals. Local Authority charges are around £800, including VAT, as it is classed as a service.

    Structural calculations will cost around the same. We have to convince the inspector that the foundations will be adequate as they are designed the same depth as the existing extension, built 30 years ago. However, our neighbour told us that his extension had to have foundations twice this depth, which is ridiculous. The soil is gravel and there is no subsidence in the area. The cost of all the extra concrete is likely to be another £1000, to say nothing of the high CO2 production in the process.

    So, regulation cost so far is £2600. I ordered and paid for all of the materials for the structure up to roof level last week in order to avoid the VAT rise. The total cost, incuding VAT was £860.

  19. Damien
    Posted December 13, 2010 at 10:31 pm | Permalink

    It is only trough transparency that we are able to judge for ourselves how our government is spending our taxes and as such this is an excellent revelation. I can only assume as the other posters have indicated that these regulations are undermining the economic life of the country, wasting both tie and money.

    Just the mere act of publication will now get the various ministers to pause of thought before automatically signing off on new regulations.

    Slightly off topic but gather the localism Bill will require councils to publish the job titles of all their employees and the salaries of the top echelon. As councils cut front line services we will be able to ask them to justify the more esoteric job titles that they seek to preserve !

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