Rt Hon Brandon Lewis MP, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, was justified in announcing a “statute of limitations, to apply equally to all Troubles-related incidents,” writes Jeff Dudgeon, the Northern Irish politician, historian, and activist, in a new blog post for Policy Exchange.
The consensus around the 2014 Stormont House Agreement, he argues, “was vastly overstated – and the investigations lopsided in a way that undermined it from the start. Victims’ groups were by no means united in support for it, as anyone who went out and spoke to them can attest.” He says Simon Coveney, the Irish Foreign Minister, was misguided to intervene in a debate about who the UK is prosecuting and also notes the support, albeit reluctant, for the Government’s announcement from Rt Hon Lord Tebbit, who was nearly killed in the Brighton bombing by the IRA in 1984.
The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Rt Hon Michael Gove MP, today endorsed the Policy Exchange Reform of Government Commission report Government Reimagined as an ‘excellent report’ following a speech announcing a new Declaration on Government Reform. The speech set out a series of commitments to reform government in the shadow of COVID-19, echoing recommendations made in Government Reimagined: A Handbook for Reform. These included commitments to implement capability-based pay, to recruit a dedicated Senior Responsible Owner (SRO) for all major projects, to introduce training for ministers and to hold Permanent Secretaries to account against their departments’ outcome delivery plans.
Policy Exchange’s Reform of Government Commission, chaired by Dame Patricia Hodgson published its report Government Reimagined: A Handbook for Reform, in May. The report, authored by Policy Exchange’s Head of Technology Policy, Benjamin Barnard, argued that the Government must embark on a comprehensive modernisation and reform programme
Policy Exchange has launched a new research programme, Beyond Cop26, in the run up to the global climate conference that the UK will host in Glasgow in November. The programme is co-chaired by two former Energy Secretaries, Rt Hon Andrea Leadsom MP and Rt Hon Amber Rudd.
The launch report, The UK’s Green USPs, calls on the Government to focus on the UK’s three ‘Green USPs’ to drive global climate action. These are: Science and technology; Financial services; and political leadership on climate action.
Alongside the launch report, the co-chairs have published an opinion piece calling on the G7 to agree a common ‘carbon border adjustment mechanism’ (CBAM) and on the UK Government to implement a California style ‘Zero Emission Vehicle mandate’ to deliver the phase-out of petrol and diesel cars by 2030. Read the opinion piece in Times Red Box and coverage in The Times.
Amber Rudd and Andrea Leadsom discussed the new programme on Policy Exchange’s podcast, The Exchange. Watch on YouTube or listen on your preferred podcast provider.
Amber Rudd appeared on Times Radio to discuss the research programme and proposals for a California-style Zero Emission Vehicle mandate.
Read the full report here.
Policy Exchange and the Queen’s Speech
The Queen’s Speech, which set out the Government’s agenda for the new parliamentary session, reflected many of Policy Exchange’s research priorities. In economics, the Government’s commitment to increased capital investment reflects recommendations outlined in our report, Why the Government should spend more on capital. On housing, the Government’s planning reforms adopt the Building Beautiful agenda, which began at Policy Exchange, the recommendation for zonal planning permission being proposed in Rethinking the Planning System for the 21st Century. The support for new owners and renters reflects recommendations in Helping Generation Rent Become Generation Buy.
The speech covered central policy recommendations of the Judicial Power Project including legislation to deal with legacy issues from the Troubles in Northern Ireland and a Dissolution and Calling of Parliament Bill to end the fixed five-year period between general elections. Policy Exchange’s A Very British Tilt presaged the UK’s Integrated Review and argued that trade is central to the Indo-Pacific “tilt”, which was mentioned in the speech with a commitment by the Government to “deepen trade ties in the Gulf, Africa and the Indo-Pacific”. And finally, the importance of Academic Freedom and in particular, freedom of speech on university campuses will be addressed with legislation and the creation of a free speech champion, a policy priority we highlighted in our report Academic freedom in the UK .
Policy Exchange hosted Dr Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, Minister of External Affairs of India, for a keynote address on India and the United Kingdom in a Post-Covid World. “The Integrated Review locates UK as a Euro-Atlantic actor with an increasing stake in the Indo-Pacific,” said Dr Jaishankar, adding: “This obviously makes it much more relevant to Indian strategic calculations.”
He noted that the recommendations of Policy Exchange’s Indo-Pacific Commission were “very timely” and, on UK-India relations, said: “Our partnership was even otherwise getting ready for an upgrade; the new context has given it a greater urgency.”
In the Vote of Thanks, Rt Hon Dominic Raab MP, Foreign Secretary, said: “I can’t think of a better and technologically endowed high trust partner than India. So this relationship matters.” Watch the event in full here.
Does work give our lives purpose, meaning and status? Or is it a tedious necessity that will soon be abolished by automation, leaving humans free to enjoy a life of leisure and basic income? Policy Exchange hosted Jon Cruddas MP for the launch of his book The Dignity of Labour and a discussion on these questions with Lisa Nandy MP, Shadow Foreign Secretary, and Rt Hon Jesse Norman MP, Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Chaired by Stephen Bush, Political Editor of the New Statesman. “There’s huge amounts of debate about the leaders of the respective parties… but absolutely nowhere, except at Policy Exchange today, is anyone actually digging beneath the surface,” said Lisa Nandy, adding that Jon Cruddas’s book was “the most important contribution to the political debate in the last decade”. Watch the event in full.
Ed Birkett, Senior Fellow in the Energy and Environment Unit at Policy Exchange, this week gave evidence to the House of Commons Transport Select Commitee for its inquiry into ‘Zero Emission Vehicles and road pricing’. During the discussion, Ed covered the barriers and policy options to deliver the Government’s target to phase out new petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030. Committee members asked questions about the recommendations in Policy Exchange’s recent report, Charging Up, which recommended new policies to deliver a comprehensive network of chargepoints for electric vehicles. Watch a recording of his appearance here.
In his first public event since publication of the report of the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities, Dr Tony Sewell CBE, Commission chair, explained the thinking and evidence behind the report and discussed its main recommendations.
The report, published at the end of March, caused controversy both by stressing ethnic minority success and challenging the conventional wisdom about ethnic group differences being mainly shaped by majority racism. Sewell debated the report, and the often extreme reaction to it, with some of the leading commentators on race and society.
“The report acknowledges that over 50 years things have significantly improved. Second that race is not the only factor in explaining racial disparities and third that some of the best strategies for change is when we find answers for everybody,” he said.
Integrated Review accepts Policy Exchange’s proposals on Indo-Pacific strategy, space and Net Assessment
The Government’s Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy (IR), published this week, reflects a broad range of Policy Exchange’s recent research output. Notably, it argues for a “tilt” to the Indo-Pacific, perhaps the most conspicuous grand-strategic decision taken by the British Government in decades, reflecting the framework recommended by Policy Exchange’s Indo-Pacific Commission in A Very British Tilt: Towards a new UK strategy in the Indo-Pacific. The IR – whose lead author, No 10 Special Adviser John Bew, headed Policy Exchange’s Britain in the World Unit until 2019 – also recommends the shaping of a new international order, as argued for in Making Global Britain Work; putting the space domain at the core of the Government’s strategic vision for this country, as recommended by the work of Policy Exchange’s Space Policy Unit; and the adoption of Net Assessment as a cross-government capability, as recommended by A Question of Power: Towards Better UK Strategy Through Net Assessment. Read Alexander Downer, Policy Exchange’s Chairman of Trustees, on the IR in ConservativeHome, listen to him on Times Radio; and read Gabriel Elefteriu, Director of Research and Head of the Space Policy Unit in The Spectator’s Coffee House.
Read Policy Exchange’s Reflections on the Integrated Review here
The Wolfson Economics Prize 2021, launched today in partnership with Policy Exchange, seeks planning and design ideas that will “radically improve” hospital care in the UK and around the world.
The Prize is evidence of a new focus on the long-term improvement in hospital provision in Britain and globally. The UK Government has already announced £3.7 billion of funding towards new hospitals in England for what it calls the “biggest hospital building programme in a generation”.
The judging panel – chaired by Rt Hon Prof Lord Kakkar, Professor of Surgery at University College London, crossbench peer in the House of Lords and Chair of the King’s Fund – will ask entrants for designs and plans for new hospitals that will “radically improve patient experiences, clinical outcomes, staff wellbeing, and integration with wider health and social care”. Entry is free and open to anyone.
Policy Exchange welcomed the Rt Hon Oliver Dowden CBE MP, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport at the History Matters Project Conference. In an hour-long conversation with Trevor Phillips OBE, Chair of the History Matters Project, the Culture Secretary encouraged museums and other institutions not to be “pushed around by noisy campaign groups”.
He said his message to museums, galleries and other institutions was: “Just think as institutions about your wider duty to the nation; your wider duty to conserve and preserve our heritage. Don’t allow yourself to be pushed around by the zeitgeist of the day; take a longer-term view of things; make sure you do things in a rigorous way; and understand that your principal duty is to preserve and conserve our heritage.”
He also distinguished between ‘activism’ and ‘debate’ saying his concern “lies in that we avoid the situation where a group of people purport to speak for a larger community and don’t”.
The conference was the first event to bring together leading decision-makers and professionals in the museums and galleries sector and other experts in order to develop new public policy approaches than can be applied broadly.
It included a panel discussion on statues and the public space chaired by Peter Ainsworth, Chair of The Heritage Alliance and another on museums and galleries chaired by Nicholas Coleridge CBE, Chair of the Victoria and Albert Museum.
Policy Exchange this week published ‘Strong Suburbs’, a report by Dr Samuel Hughes, Senior Fellow, and Ben Southwood, Head of Housing, Transport, and the Urban Space. The report notes that the Government has moved away from ‘top-down’ plans to encourage development in areas with housing shortages. Instead, it argues that a ‘bottom up’ approach driven by local communities will deliver popular and beautiful housing without the need for imposition.
The main proposal would let individual streets vote to give themselves planning permission allowing them to turn themselves from bungalows or semis into terraces
Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, said: “Policy Exchange has led the debate on empowering communities, winning support for development, and creating beautiful popular homes. The Government supports enabling communities to set their own rules for what developments in their area should look like, ensuring that they reflect and enhance their surroundings and preserve our cherished local heritage, and Policy Exchange is continuing this vital conversation.”
It’s “plain common-sense and the responsible thing to do” to reject calls for a Scottish independence referendum during the Covid-19 pandemic. That is the verdict of Lord Dunlop, former Minister for Scotland and Northern Ireland – and author of an unpublished Government review on the workings of the Union – in an article for Policy Exchange.
His piece marked the launch of Policy Exchange’s Future of the Union Project – led by Adam Tomkins MSP and Eddie Barnes, a former adviser to Ruth Davidson – which will examine over the coming months how the Union can better work for all its constituent parts.
Lord Dunlop’s article observed that we are experiencing a “watershed moment” and called for new a Union of Co-operation, with “a re-vamped and enhanced Intergovernmental Council” helping to “manage disputes and facilitate joint decision-making”. Read the paper here – and coverage in The Sun here.
Eddie Barnes has written a blog for Policy Exchange on what Unionists can learn from remainers’ errors during the EU referendum. He argues that those that are committed to protecting the Union must also commit to ‘the need for real and lasting reform’ and not ‘phoney change’. Read his blog here.
Policy Exchange was delighted to award the inaugural Grotius Prize –named after the founding father of international law, Hugo Grotius — to Hon Scott Morrison MP, the Prime Minister of Australia. This was in recognition of his work in support of the international rules-based order. The event was streamed live from London and Canberra.
A keynote speech from the Australian Prime Minister was followed by remarks from Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP, with a Vote of Thanks by Hon Alexander Downer AC, Chairman of Trustees at Policy Exchange and former Foreign Minister of Australia.
The Australian Prime Minister welcomed the “timely publication by Policy Exchange’s Indo-Pacific Commission, A Very British Tilt: Towards a new UK strategy in the Indo-Pacific Region”. On this Commission’s core prop
“If anyone was to draw up a list of the top twenty most influential think tanks in Westminster, can anyone seriously doubt that Policy Exchange would be at number one?” That’s the verdict of Iain Dale in the LBC presenter’s latest column for Conservative Home. He calls Policy Exchange “the pre-eminent think tank in the Westminster village” and notes our unique convening power, saying: “There are few organisations that could attract power players like Mark Carney and Alan Greenspan, or Dominic Raab and Mike Pompeo to appear on its platforms.”
Policy Exchange hosts Prime Minister for the launch of the authorised biography of Margaret Thatcher
Dean Godson, Director of Policy Exchange, was delighted to welcome the Prime Minister, Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP, to the official launch of the final volume of Charles Moore’s authorised biography of Margaret Thatcher, Herself Alone.
The event, hosted by Policy Exchange, was the Prime Minister’s first visit to a think tank since he took office. It was attended by some of the surviving dramatis personae from the Thatcher era and other senior figures from the world of politics, journalism and public life.
The Prime Minister praised the biography, saying, it is “not just the greatest recent work of biography but… also, in our lifetimes, the greatest work of modern British history”. Charles Moore, the author of the 20-year project, is a Senior Fellow at Policy Exchange and was previously Chairman of the Trustees. Watch the video of the speeches on YouTube
Policy Exchange was delighted that the party election manifestos reflected the priorities of our cross-party research since the last general election (and even earlier). Ideas from at least 24 papers were contained in the Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat and Green 2019 manifestos – from social care to education, farming to judicial power. Explore the infographic showing which ideas were adopted by the different parties here.
Policy Exchange has convened a distinguished Reform of Government Commission, chaired by Dame Patricia Hodgson DBE, to determine how government can be modernised and equipped for the modern world. Each Commissioner brought their particular expertise and experience to the Commission’s discussions, and this report reflects a broad consensus of views on how to improve the capacity and capabilities of government. The Commission took both informal and formal evidence from a range of figures from academia, politics, business, arms-length-bodies and the Civil Service to inform its work.
A policy of ‘benign neglect’ towards the City and the UK’s financial services sector since 2016 is no longer enough to maintain its competitiveness in the face of an aggressive EU and intense global competition, warns Gerard Lyons. But the former Chief Economic Adviser to Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP during the Prime Minister’s London mayoralty argues that with the right policy approach, the City can play a critical role in levelling up and delivering more balanced domestic growth.
The Law Commission intends to report later this year with proposals in relation to what are, incorrectly, called ‘hate crimes’. This follows a consultation which closed on Christmas Eve 2020. This paper argues that the consultation was flawed and there are reasonable grounds to conclude that it breached the Cabinet Office Consultation Principles 2018. In addition, analysis of the consultation’s failings raises issues concerning the role of the Law Commission in the process of general policy-formation, as opposed to technical law reform.
The Government’s tree strategy for England arrived this week, setting out a range of welcome measures designed to meet its manifesto promise of 30,000 hectares of new trees per year by the end of the Parliament. That’s about three times the current rate and it’s a tall order. Compared to places like France and Germany, which have tree cover upwards of 30%, the UK has a paltry 13%.
“My Government will help more people to own their own home whilst enhancing the rights of those who rent.”
These words, from Her Majesty, during the Queen’s Speech, reflect an important focus for the Government. It was only last autumn that the Prime Minister outlined his intention to help Generation Rent become Generation Buy.
In the wake of the Queen’s Speech it seemed appropriate to return to some of the issues raised in a paper I produced for Policy Exchange on housing earlier this year.
The election of a Conservative MP in Hartlepool for the first time in the constituency’s modern history is yet another wake-up call for my party. Peter Mandelson once enjoyed a 17,500 majority here. Now the Tories are deep into what was once safe Labour territory – the industrial heartlands of the North – with a 7,000 majority of their own. In the West Midlands it looks again like Labour will lose out on the mayoral race and more. What has gone wrong for the Labour Party and our wider movement?
A new Policy Exchange report published this week, Saving a lost decade, argues that ministers must become directly accountable for tackling the inequalities that have been highlighted during the COVID-19 pandemic. The paper, authored by Richard Sloggett, Health and Social Care Lead, uses modelling to show that the Government is on course to miss a key manifesto pledge to increase healthy life years by five by 2035. Read the report and Foreword by Rt Hon Damian Green MP and Lord Filkin CBE here.
The report featured in The Financial Times, with the recommendations endorsed by Steve Brine MP, former Public Health Minister, during a debate in the House of Commons, which can be viewed here.
Policy Exchange congratulates David Goodhart, our Head of Demography, Immigration & Integration, on his appointment as a Commissioner on the board of the Equality and Human Rights Commission. David will sit on the board for a period of four years. This welcome appointment follows the announcement that Baroness Falkner of Margravine has been nominated to serve as the new Chair of the EHRC. David is the author of Head, Hand, Heart: The Struggle for Dignity and Status in the 21st Centuryand has recently edited a Policy Exchange report on the technical skills revolution, The Training We Need Now. Read details of the announcement here.
Policy Exchange was delighted to welcome Matthew Pottinger, Deputy National Security Advisor to the President of the United States, for the first of two Colin Cramphorn Memorial Lectures this year. He delivered his lecture, titled “The Importance of Being Candid: On China’s Relationship with the Rest of the World”, in Mandarin, speaking of a “new consensus” in the US, which bridges political divides and unites the whole of society, on the threat posed China’s “technologically enhanced totalitarianism”. Watch the speech here.
- Tuesday, 15 December, 2020
15:00 - 16:00
The launch of ‘What’s Wrong with Rights?’ by Nigel Biggar. Speakers: Professor Nigel Biggar Regius Professor of Moral and Pastoral Theology at the University of Oxford, Baroness O’Neill of Bengarve former Chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission Lord Sumption former Justice of the Supreme Court John Larkin QC former Attorney General for Northern Ireland
- Monday, 23 November, 2020
9:00 - 10:00
Policy Exchange is delighted to award the inaugural Grotius Prize – in honour of the founding thinker of international law, Hugo Grotius (1583 – 1645).
The Prize was awarded to Hon Scott Morrison MP, the Prime Minister of Australia, in recognition of his work in support of the international rules based order. With remarks by Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
The Vote of Thanks was delivered by Hon Alexander Downer AC, former Australian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom.
- Monday, 16 November, 2020
12:00 - 13:15
One Nation Conservatism: what does it look like after COVID 19? with Isaac Levido 2019 General Election Conservative Campaign Director Danny Kruger MP former Political Secretary to the Prime Minister Jane Stevenson MP Member of Parliament for Wolverhampton North East Rt Hon Arlene Foster MLA First Minister of Northern Ireland; Leader of the Democratic Unionist Party Kirstene Hair Senior Adviser to Douglas Ross MP, Leader of the Scottish Conservatives chaired by Paul Goodman Editor, ConservativeHome