Senior Tory MPs are urging Boris Johnson to junk the 'precautionary principle' which they warn is stifling British businesses.
In an age of extraordinarily fast technological change, the freedom to set our own regulatory standards offers huge opportunities.
As the EU has expanded, its internal processes have become slower and more bureaucratic and its approach to the ‘Precautionary Principle’ has become an excuse for neglecting the role of regulation in economic competitiveness.
Taking back control over making our own laws in this country means we can adapt regulation to reflect our national interest. Leaving the EU means our regulatory decisions are no longer dependent on lengthy negotiations and compromises with 27 other countries.
We can adopt regulations which better reflect UK values, priorities and opportunities, principles rooted in our Common Law tradition.
Indeed, nothing better illustrates the advantages of being outside the EU than the UK’s recent vaccine success. Our leadership in genomics, vaccine R+D, Accelerated Trials and our ability to procure at speed means the UK has led the world in the battle to secure highly effective Covid jabs and treatments.
Now we must build on that success. The Taskforce for Innovation, Growth and Regulatory Reform (TIGRR) shows how the UK can deliver on the promises of Brexit without abandoning our high standards. This is a chance to unlock growth and investment in technology and help level-up the country.
That’s why our report today establishes a new framework for regulation based on a common law approach. Free to set our own rules, we propose that the UK adopts a bold new regulatory framework based on a new ‘Proportionality Principle’ with agile, digital regulatory innovation and new duties on regulators to consider the impact of their rules on UK competitiveness and productivity.
This new freedom is an opportunity to get ahead in the high-tech sectors of the future. Our report provides a blueprint for how we can do this, whilst unlocking billions of pounds of investment in start-up businesses and innovative technology.
We set out over 120 recommendations, identifying specific high-growth opportunities reflecting on feedback from over 75 industry meetings and roundtables. It demonstrates how, with ambition and vision on the part of the Government and devolved administrations, the UK can use the lawmaking power we have regained to unlock growth and investment in technology to help level-up the country.
Regulation matters. We need regulations that investors and consumers can have faith in. No-one wants a vaccine that hasn’t been properly tested, or food with e-coli. We need to combine the highest standards of protection and precaution that is part of all good regulation, alongside support for the growth and innovation that can fire up our post-Covid economy.
Our 120-page report shows that there is a major opportunity for the UK to set the international standard in key high-growth sectors. We have set out specific recommendations for ten sectors with potential to deliver significant inward investment and job creation across the UK. We would highlight three here: pensions investment, GDPR and medical research.
First, UK pension funds are currently prevented from investing as much in innovation as other countries. We need to allow our pension schemes to diversify and invest in innovative start-up and scale-up businesses in the UK. This one reform could unlock over £100bn of investment in the growth sectors of the future, whilst ensuring prudent protections and safeguards. This will mean, as we emerge from the pandemic, that our pension schemes will be able to help enormously in the levelling up agenda.
Second, with the modern economy and public services becoming more digital every day, the GDPR data protection rules we have inherited from the EU are no longer fit for purpose. They neither properly protect consumers nor create the barrier-free “single market” for digital services that was promised.
Instead, small businesses, charities and community groups around the land are tied up in red tape and consumers are plagued with “accept cookies” terms and conditions which they do not have time to read.
We should replace GDPR with a UK Data Protection Framework based on enhanced rights for citizens but with regulatory obligations on businesses which are simpler, more flexible and more proportionate.
Third, we need to build on the UK success with the Covid-19 vaccine clinical trial. The global market for trials is set to reach $60billion in the next six years. The sector already supports more than 47,000 UK jobs. We have a chance to grow those numbers whilst spreading the benefits more evenly across the country
This report sets us on the path to using our new-found independence to take the lead in the innovative high-tech industries of the future.
With the power to create our own laws, we can lead globally on standards and build a regulatory system which supports innovation and competition.
Article by Iain Duncan Smith, Theresa Villiers & George Freeman