Getting regulation wrong has consequences

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Regulation is crucial for society’s safety, but it needs to be clear, consistent and targeted, argues David Orr

We’ve all heard it. ‘We must get rid of all this pettifogging bureaucracy’. Or ‘the red tape is strangling us to death’.

Regulation. The thing we love to hate. Always an easy target for politicians, especially in the run up to an election. ‘If we are elected we will slash the regulation, cut back all that red tape’. And they make big promises. Remember one in, one out? Or in the days of Eric Pickles, ‘one in, two out’. This, after all, was one of the main arguments for Brexit. ‘We will be able to cut away all that unnecessary European Union bureaucracy’, they claimed.

All noise, all bluster, and almost all complete nonsense. Here is what Lord Greenhalgh, minister for building safety, said last week at a conference run by the National Housing Federation:

“We saw the total regulatory system fail in Grenfell, top to bottom, from building regs and Whitehall at the top, right the way through to the approved inspector who signed off the Grenfell refurbishment”. Getting regulation wrong has consequences.

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