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Regulation In The Post-Bureaucratic Age by John Penrose MP (2009)

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From the moment the Labour Government entered Number 10 in 1997, they let rip with new regulations that made life difficult for individuals, charities, public bodies and social enterprises. These were so excessive that by 2009 they'd significantly reduced the UK's economic competitiveness. As Shadow Business Minister in Ken Clarke's team, John wrote the Party’s policy on cutting red tape and quangos that was adopted by the coalition Government as policy when it formed in 2010.

When John spoke to businesses about how the Conservative Party could help them get the economy moving again, he was told that one of the biggest problems businesses were facing was the excessive number of new regulations they have to comply with. It was costing them time and money - holding them back. So, when the coalition Government formed, rather than John and his team deciding what red-tape was the most troublesome, he went back to those businesses and asked them to tell them directly which regulations were getting their way and they'd work on getting rid of them. This became officially known as the 'Red-Tape Challenge'.



  • Over 3,000 pieces of regulation have been highlighted that needed to be scrapped or removed.
  • Over 800 of these have already been abolished or simplified.
  • To date this process of cutting burdensome regulation has saved UK businesses £2.2billion.


Now that work was underway to fix things, John was keen to make sure that new regulations didn't sneak back in to plague the UK's businesses in years to come.

His answer was the world-leading 'One-in, One-out' rule that was officially introduced in January 2011, and increased to 'One-in, Two-out' in January 2013. What it has meant is that new regulations cannot be introduced unless twice as many old regulations can be abolished at the same time. These rules have had a profound affect on Westminster, kick-starting a cultural change across Government. Regulation is now viewed as a last resort, rather than the default.



  • This Government has seen just 119 regulatory 'ins' with 213 deregulatory 'outs'.
  • The Government has introduced 'Sunset Clauses' to strengthen the processes for ensuring that new regulations are subject to periodic review. They ensure that regulations are only retained where they can be shown to be necessary, effective, and where burdens on business are minimised.
  • A Business Perceptions Survey reported that the proportion of businesses which see regulation as an obstacle to their success has dropped by 11 percentage points since the last Government.
  • In the same survey, businesses saying that they find the amount of time spent complying with regulation to be burdensome fell sharply by 12 percentage points too.


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