Thursday, 22 May 2014

More anarchy than deregulation

We are now considering the Government’s third Deregulation Bill in three years. It represents their absolute failure to address the cost of living crisis or implement a proper industrial strategy.

Deregulation alone is not a long-term, sustainable growth strategy. This Deregulation Bill is a desperate rag bag, comprising an incoherent bunch of proposals which look as though they were brought together after a drunken session at an anarchists’ convention.

The draft Bill’s statement of impact estimates that all the measures together would only save British businesses 20 pence per business per year. Wow! And this is Cameron’s latest big idea.

Therefore, you may think it’s not worth considering. Well, it is, because of the rag, tag and bobtail proposals that have been thrown in at the last minute.

For example, the government’s obsessive view, that health and safety legislation is a hindrance to the economy, has lead them to propose exempting self-employed people working in certain lines of work – to be decided by the Secretary of State – from health and safety legislation.

It’s staggeringly inept. From clarity, it will create confusion and muddle. It is estimated to save self-employed people thirty-seven pence each a year. Yes, you read that correctly, 37p each a year.

Then, we have botched proposals about taxis and private hire vehicles (PHV).

In May 2012 the Law Commission launched a consultation on changes to taxi regulation, with a final report and draft Bill originally scheduled for publication in April 2014. The industry, unions and local authorities have been engaging with this process. Then, out of the blue in January 2014 the Government announced a 10 day consultation on three measures relating to taxi and PHV regulation.

Then, in March, without any meaningful engagement with stakeholders, new proposals were made for this Deregulation Bill. Report Stage is expected in the next few weeks. The proposals include allowing a PHV operator to subcontract your booking, without your consent, to another operator who is licensed in a different licensing district.

I’ll leave you to think about whether you think this is either sensible or something you will welcome. For my part, I think the proposals are both unwise and unwelcome.