Government sets out Declaration on Government Reform

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 ReformThe 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 launches Beyond COP26 research 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.

Government Reimagined: A Handbook for Reform

Policy Exchange’s Reform of Government Commission, chaired by Dame Patricia Hodgson, has published its report, Government Reimagined: A Handbook for Reform. The report, authored by Policy Exchange’s Head of Technology Policy, Benjamin Barnard, argues that the Government must embark on a comprehensive modernisation and reform programme.

The Commission – whose members include Ben Houchen, Tees Valley Mayor; Rt Hon Baroness Morgan, former Education Secretary; Gen Sir Peter Wall, former Chief of the General Staff; and Hazel Blears, former Communities Secretary – has heard from a range of expert witnesses over the last six months, including Lord Sedwill, former Cabinet Secretary; Lord Blunkett, former Home Secretary; and Lord Maude, former Cabinet Office minister.

Read coverage of the report in The Financial Times, The Daily Telegraph and The TimesDame Patricia Hodgson appeared on LBCRadio 4’s Today ProgrammeTimes Radio and Sky News to discuss the report. Benjamin Barnard has also written for Reaction outlining the Commission’s proposals. Read the paper in full 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 hosts India’s Minister of External Affairs and UK Foreign Secretary

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.

Policy Exchange hosts the launch of The Dignity of Labour with Jon Cruddas MP

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, appears in front of the Transport Select Commitee

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.

Policy Exchange hosts Dr Tony Sewell for discussion on race and ethnic disparities

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

£250,000 Wolfson Economics Prize 2021 seeks hospitals revolution

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.

History Matters Conference

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.

Strong Suburbs

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.”

Read the report here and coverage of the report in the The Daily MailThe Telegraph, and The I.

The Future of the Union

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.

Scott Morrison wins inaugural Grotius Prize

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 proposal for Britain to increase the priority accorded, toward the Indo-Pacific, Scott Morrison remarked: “I couldn’t agree more and have conveyed the same to Boris. I endorse the report’s vision for a reinvigorated community of free and independent nations with a single overriding goal. Namely, reinforce a sustainable rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific that is resilient but adaptable to the great power realities of the 21st century.”

Watch the event here and read our report here.

Policy Exchange is ‘pre-eminent think tank in Westminster,’ says Iain Dale

“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

Rt Hon Michael Gove MP

Manifesto wins

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.

Environmental Affairs – The Geopolitics of Climate Change

Environmental Affairs is Policy Exchange’s quarterly journal, which explores the implications of the growing role of environmental policy. As environmental questions are increasingly felt in other areas, from economics, to security, to foreign affairs, we look at what these overlaps will mean. Our contributors are world leaders, distinguished thinkers and experts in their fields, drawn from the UK and around the world.

Place Matters

Place matters profoundly to people. We invest more resources in our homes than in anything else, and by some measures we spend more time gardening than we do on any other pastime. This is no less true of our shared home. Protecting the countryside from suburban sprawl has substantial costs in terms of foregone economic growth, but green belts are widely supported, and were introduced only after a huge grassroots campaign for them.

Good moves in the Government’s Trees Action Plan

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%.

How to turn renters into homeowners

“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.

Hartlepool is a Wake-Up Call for my Party

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?

UK Digital Identity

This week DCMS set out a new UK digital identity and attributes trust framework to make it easier and quicker for people to verify their identities using modern technology. The framework is in line with recommendations made in Policy Exchange’s 2020 report Verified, which featured a foreword from Matt Warman MP, Minister for Digital Infrastructure.

Online Harms Bill reflects Policy Exchange proposals

A new Online Harms Bill, unveiled this week, includes measures that will force social media companies to delete harmful content or face fines of up to 10 per cent of their turnover and adopt a new code of conduct to protect children on the internet. The legislation builds on recommendations made in Policy Exchange’s 2017 report, The New Netwar, which called for ministers to “put in place a system of financial penalties, administered by the independent regulator, to force company compliance” and urged the adoption of a “more stringent codes of conduct”.

Policy win with MOD’s new Office of Net Assessment

In a recent speech the Defence Secretary, Rt Hon Ben Wallace MP, announced the creation of a “Secretary of State’s Office of Net Assessment and Challenge (SONAC)” encompassing war gaming, doctrine, red teaming and external academic analysis. Standing up a UK Office of Net Assessment reporting directly to the Defence Secretary – modelled on the Pentagon’s ONA – was the main recommendation of Policy Exchange’s 2018 report, A Question of Power: Towards Better UK Strategy Through Net Assessment, authored by Gabriel Elefteriu, with a Foreword by General Lord Richards of Herstmonceux, former Chief of the Defence Staff. The draft report’s reviewers included Air Marshal Ed Stringer, Director General of the UK Defence Academy and Joint Force Development who will now oversee the establishment of SONAC; and Professor John Bew, the Prime Minister’s Special Adviser for Foreign Affairs who is leading a No10 taskforce on the Government’s Integrated Review.

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  • Thursday, 11 March, 2021
    16:00 - 17:00

The North Sea offers opportunities to decarbonise the UK economy while generating economic benefits for the regions that border it. It’s future development is therefore strategically central to delivering two of the Government’s flagship agendas: Net Zero, and Levelling Up. 

Policy Exchange examined these issues in its recent report, The Future of the North Sea. The report found that the basin could generate up to £20bn per year of investment in coastal regions and a net increase of up to 40,000 direct jobs connected to its energy industry.

Panel with Ben Houchen, Melanie Onn, Nicola Shaw CBE, Rt Hon Anne-Marie Trevelyan MP, Chaired by Benedict McAleenan.

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  • Tuesday, 2 March, 2021
    13:00 - 17:00

The way in which history is displayed and taught in museums, in galleries and in public spaces is currently a subject of greater contention than ever before.

There is increasing pressure on institutions, on public bodies and on local councils to remove artefacts from public display, or to explain or rename what is there. Through its fortnightly compendium of evidence, the History Matters Newsletter, Policy Exchange has been leading the way in documenting how our shared history is being contested.

Policy Exchange’s March 2021 History Matters Conference is 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.

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  • Thursday, 18 February, 2021
    13:00 - 14:00

As the UK Government puts the finishing touches on its landmark Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy – the most comprehensive reconsideration of British grand strategy since the Cold War – questions around NATO defence loom large.

NATO’s most recent SACEUR, General Curtis Scaparrotti (USA, Ret.) (in post between 2016-2019) will give his perspective on the strategic threats facing the Alliance in the European theatre over the coming years and the military capabilities and concepts required to meet them.

Rt Hon Lord Robertson KT will draw on his experience at the top of NATO to address the political and diplomatic challenges of steering the Alliance through a period of crisis and uncertainty.

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