Stephen Booth

Head of the Britain in the World Project at Policy Exchange Read Full Bio

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Re-engineering Regulation Project

Nov 18, 2021

Introductory Scoping Paper 

Lord Sedwill, the former Cabinet Secretary, is to Chair a major new Policy Exchange project, Re-engineering Regulation, which seeks to offer a roadmap for regulatory reform fit for the post-Brexit, post-Covid era.

The project will draw on the expertise of an Advisory Council comprising leading figures from a range of fields – across the public and private sector – whose sector-specific knowledge will help guide the project and its conclusions.

About the project

Almost all commentary on regulation since the Brexit referendum has been about deregulation. Many favour a post-Brexit bonfire of controls and bureaucracy. Many have also contended for a long time that the UK’s problems stem from its officials gold-plating EU rules. On the other side of the divide, trade unions, environmental groups and consumer lobbies have defended existing regulatory regimes against a lowering of standards and protections.

Is this highly polarised debate the right one to have? Is there not an argument for suggesting that the discussion which really needs to take place is about what kind of regulation currently exists in this country? Moreover, what and who, exactly, is being regulated? Is regulation fulfilling its intended purpose and what are the unintended consequences of regulation? How does the UK’s regulatory system adapt to and adopt the rapid technological change that is underway? How should the UK respond to the growing international regulatory competition between the United States, China, and the European Union, and what are the opportunities of greater international regulatory cooperation?

Policy Exchange’s Re-engineering Regulation project is approaching these questions from the perspective of a “Third Way”. The objective is not to reduce regulatory protections but to reduce the administrative burden of regulatory compliance and make regulations and regulatory systems more efficient, more effective, and more user friendly for the organisations and individuals who must put them into practice.

The project will address the following issues:

1.     The rise of the regulatory state and how to ensure accountability, transparency, and scrutiny

2.     Lessons from previous attempts to achieve “Better Regulation”

3.     Regulation of the public sector

4.     Regulating post-Brexit

5.     The challenge and opportunities of technological innovation

6.     The international dimension of regulation


The project will undertake research and gather evidence through interviews, surveys and offer a public forum to raise issues and provide examples of how regulation can be improved across a variety of sectors: from small businesses, professional and financial services to the NHS, policing and teaching.

We will make recommendations intended to improve how regulations are created, implemented, and reviewed so that all those involved in the process, especially those creating and enforcing regulations, are part of a system that is transparent, accountable, and dynamically self-cleansing.

Advisory Council members

(Chair) Lord Sedwill KCMG FRGS, former Cabinet Secretary and National Security Adviser.

Sir John Armitt CBE, Chairman of the National Infrastructure Commission and National Express Group.

Lord Bilimoria CBE DL, President of the CBI and Chairman of the Cobra Beer Partnership.

Baroness Falkner of Margravine, Crossbench member of the House Lords.

Dame Patricia Hodgson DBE, former Chair of Ofcom and former Principal of Newnham College, Cambridge.

Dame Elaine Inglesby-Burke CBE, non-executive director at the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and former Group Chief Nursing Officer at Salford Royal Hospital and the Northern Care Alliance Group.

Sir Stephen Laws KCB QC, Former First Parliamentary Counsel.

Barnaby Lenon CBE, Professor and Dean of Education at University of Buckingham and former Headmaster of Harrow School.

Sir Mark Rowley QPM, former Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner for Specialist Operations and National Lead for Counter-Terrorism.

William Salomon, Senior Partner of Hansa Capital Partners LLP.

Sir Paul Tucker, former Deputy Governor of Bank of England.

Rt Hon Lord Udny-Lister Kt PC, former Senior Strategic Adviser to the Prime Minister.

Mark Yallop, Chairman of the FICC Markets Standards Board.


Lord Sedwill, former Cabinet Secretary, said:

“Brexit has seen large swathes of regulatory authority returned to the UK. How should we exercise it? Some favour a post-Brexit bonfire of controls and bureaucracy. Others want to preserve or enhance the existing regulatory regimes.

“There is a better approach. Smart regulation should be part of post-Brexit Britain’s competitive advantage, while maintaining the economic, social and environmental standards our citizens demand, and which are central to modern free trade agreements, not just with the EU, but also for the UK to accede to the CPTPP, the trans-Pacific free trade area encompassing some of the world’s fastest growing economies.”

“Public sector professionals, like nurses, teachers and police officers, complain that they are diverted from the frontline by unnecessary paperwork, damaging their professional well-being and diluting the service to the citizen. Many junior doctors spend over half their time on administrative tasks. They are not alone. Moreover, public servants prize teamwork and want to be empowered to apply a range of regulatory interventions to combat the genuine abuse and criminal behaviour which threatens their fellow citizens, while trusting professional colleagues and compliant businesses to get on with their work.”

Lord Bilimoria, President of the CBI and Chairman of the Cobra Beer Partnership, said:

“Regulation must keep up with a changing economy. Government and regulators need to work to create a future-facing regulatory framework, especially in ensuring the UK meets its net zero objectives. The government must set out fair and effective regulatory and competition policies that both promote growth and protect consumer welfare.

Independent regulation is a hallmark of the UK’s regulatory landscape, but regulators must keep pace with new business models and industry challenges. Businesses need a clear and effective vision for the future; this requires regulation that is coherent, coordinated, and easy to implement. And, in order to deliver on investments in critical sectors like energy, digital and transport, businesses need a framework that enables and incentivises spend. The UK needs world-class regulatory and competition regimes that are smart enough to adapt to current and future challenges. It has never been more critical to act.”

Stephen Booth

Head of the Britain in the World Project at Policy Exchange Read Full Bio

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