Opinion and Editorial from the Policy Exchange team.
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Warwick Lightfoot, Head of the Economics Unit, argues that the controversy over the introduction of Universal Credit is an opportunity to revisit the fundamentals of a modern, market-friendly benefit system. At present benefits extend too far up the income distribution, damaging incentives and productivity as benefit withdrawal pushes effective marginal tax rates to extreme levels. In addition, greater regional variation in benefits, to take account of local labour market conditions, would be a major improvement.
Policy Exchange’s Energy and Environment Research Fellows, Matthew Rooney and Joshua Burke, respond to the Government’s Clean Growth Strategy. The long awaited strategy document detailing how the UK will meet their emissions reductions targets was published on Thursday. In it there is positive news for onshore wind, nuclear power and the hydrogen economy, whilst fracking is a notable absence. A next big decision for the Government to make is whether the UK will remain in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme. Policy Exchange are currently conducting research into the potential benefits of leaving the scheme and implementing a British carbon tax system.
The Supreme Court has today used vague provisions in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights to disapply an Act of Parliament. This outcome is impossible under ordinary human rights law and confirms the danger the Charter poses to parliamentary democracy. The Court passed up the opportunity to consider limits on the Charter’s application and the case confirms the need to end the Charter’s place in domestic law after the UK leaves the EU.
The Head of Policy Exchange’s Judicial Power Project, Professor Richard Ekins, gave evidence to the House of Common’s Brexit Select Committee alongside regular JPP contributor, Sir Stephen Laws, former First Parliamentary Counsel. Rebecca Lowe, Policy Exchange’s State & Society and Judicial Power Project (JPP) Fellow, reports on the hearing, which focused initially on the constitutional and legal aspects of the bill, before expanding to the Brexit process more widely, with questions ranging from the future role, if any, of the ECJ, to the provision that could be made for a ‘transition period’.
Dr Ray Bassett, Senior Fellow on EU Affairs at Policy Exchange and a former senior Irish ambassador takes a look at the Brexit discussions around the Common Travel Area (CTA). Despite the deadlock in Brexit negotiations, the UK Government continues to maintain a constructive and sensible attitude to the CTA, which should reassure British and Irish citizens living and working in those respective countries – who should be more concerned about the “glib” attitude for EU negotiators on the CTA and the border.
Policy Exchange’s Head of Education welcomes Ofsted’s Chief Inspector Amanda Spielman’s powerful statement about the quality and content of the school curriculum in England. Ofsted says there is too little discussion of curriculum planning and too few teachers and school leaders understand what this means. With a decade’s teaching experience, including as a curriculum creator for one of England’s most successful school trusts, John Blake argues in the TES that schools need to look to Britain’s cultural institutions to find the support they need.
Policy Exchange’s Head of Demography, Immigration and Integration, David Goodhart, and our Research Fellow Dr Richard Norrie welcome today’s publication of a wide range of data on outcomes for ethnic minorities in Britain today. They warn that this data must not be used to “fuel division based on selective analysis of statistics” and say that “successes as well as failures must be acknowledged”. Concluding that “the analysis does not always flow self-evidently from the data”, they call for further work to be done to understand how factors like age, geography and wealth interact with ethnicity.
Richard Ekins and Graham Gee of Policy Exchange’s Judicial Power Project ask what the appointment of Lady Hale as President of the UK’s Supreme Court means for the law. Pointing out that ‘one should not overstate the importance of her new office’, and that she will retire no later than 2020, they explain that she is, nonetheless, taking up ‘an important public office, which she will discharge conscientiously and with good humour’, and that, from her long judicial service, it is clear that she adopts a ‘relatively expansive view of judicial power’.
Has the decline in racial prejudice in Britain really stopped? A semi-official report last week claimed that “there is no clear liberalising trend in racial prejudice” and it was widely and uncritically followed up in the media. But as this blog by David Goodhart and Richard Norrie of Policy Exchange’s Demography unit argues this claim is based on a highly selective reading of the data. The report also provides scant evidence for its claim that prejudice is a significant cause of racial disadvantage.
Last autumn, in a paper for Policy Exchange’s Capital City Foundation, Nick Ferrari became the first commentator to suggest that the Mayor of London use the renewal of Uber’s operating licence to make the firm behave better. Ferrari does not support last week’s remarkable decision by the London Mayoralty to remove the licence entirely. But, writing for Policy Exchange, he argues that the outcome he advocated — a new licence, under strict conditions — remains perhaps the likeliest ending of this significant Big Tech v Government struggle.