Red-tape warning: may contain nonsense

Official watchdog calls for public to nominate hit-list of daft regulations and unnecessary warnings
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Indy Politics

Warning: this regulation may contain feather-bedding, molly-coddling and traces of absurdity. The public is to be asked to submit the most ridiculous examples of red tape for a bonfire of nannying rules this summer.

Ministers have accepted the conclusion of an official report that Britain's spirit of adventure is being crushed under the weight of risk-averse regulation. The threat of litigation scare stories have led to a flood of new rules that is "unsustainable and undesirable", according to a red-tape watchdog. It wants the Government to follow the Netherlands, which scrapped about 400 rules after a public appeal for examples of the inconsistent or absurd.

Pat McFadden, a Cabinet Office minister, will help to launch a UK version of the "hit list" later this month. He will say that the Government is ready to lead by example, reviewing its own rules on rail safety, anti-fraud measures and so-called "performance monitoring" of voluntary bodies to see how many can be scrapped.

The recommendations are among those made by the Better Regulation Commission, the official but independent red-tape watchdog. Rick Haythornthwaite, its chairman, said: "Britain is rightly famous for the achievements of our entrepreneurs, risk-takers, adventurers and explorers. Now, our national resilience, self-reliance and spirit of adventure could be threatened by a culture that demands the progressive elimination of risk through more and more regulation."

Even the Health and Safety Commission recently admitted that it was time for a purge of instances where safety consideration were blocking everyday activities. But ministers are set to reject one of the watchdog's main recommendations, that a new panel be set up to assess whether regulation is needed in response to all emerging risks.

Send ridiculous health scares and warnings to: The Independent on Sunday, Health Scares, 191 Marsh Wall, London E14 9RS, or by email to

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