Following his appointment in February as minister for Brexit opportunities and government efficiency, Mr Rees-Mogg launched an appeal in the Daily Express for the paper’s readers to come forward with ideas for how he could fulfil his new brief.
“Government is not the centre of all knowledge and wisdom. Actually there is a much greater wisdom with the British people as a whole,” Mr Rees-Mogg had said, pledging to push to get rid of “what it is in their daily life that the government does that makes their life harder”.
The British public is claimed to have responded “with enthusiasm”, and the government has reportedly received some 2,000 ideas since the appeal was launched.
As Boris Johnson battles with increasing calls for his resignation from Tory MPs over the Partygate scandal, the top nine “most interesting” of these proposals have now been published in the Daily Express.
Second on the list of ideas handpicked by Mr Rees-Mogg’s office was to “abolish the EU regulations that restrict vacuum cleaner power to 1400W”.
The bloc’s pro-environmental regulations on vacuum cleaners were actually extended in 2017 to include all machines using more than 900W and emitting more than 80 decibels – effectively those emitting more noise and heat than suction.
While critics have suggested that people merely use their vacuum cleaners for longer, experts have previously said that premium low-power machines clean just as well as those of a high-wattage, with some manufacturers alleged to deliberately increase wattage to woo shoppers who equate it with better performance.
Current analysis suggests that households using a 1,400W vacuum cleaner would spend 39.2p per hour, compared to 18.2p for someone using a 650W appliance.
At the top of the list was a suggestion to “encourage fracking” – upon which the government reluctantly placed a moratorium in 2019, after scientific analysis found it was impossible to predict the likelihood and magnitude of associated earth tremors, which had occurred close to sites on multiple occasions.
According to the post-Brexit suggestion cited by Mr Rees-Mogg’s office, the government could “shortcut rules on planning consultation” via emergency legislation.
Documents uncovered shortly after the effective ban was imposed three years ago show this idea predates the UK’s exit from the EU, with Whitehall officials having been mulling ways in which planning and public consultation processes around fracking could be made faster and “more predictable”.
Just last month, business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng ordered a fresh review into the scientific evidence around fracking as the government considers “all possible domestic energy sources” in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and soaring energy prices.
While the UK was just one of many EU countries to introduce their own moratoriums on fracking, experts say the government’s decision to re-examine shale gas extraction marks a departure from European Union regulations.
They point to the UK’s proposed divergence from the bloc’s interpretation of the “precautionary principle” – a legal approach which permits restriction of an activity carrying a potential environmental risk – towards one which prioritises “innovation” over risk management, similarly to the US.
Third on Mr Rees-Mogg’s list was a suggestion to “remove precautionary principle restrictions (for instance) on early use of experimental treatments for seriously ill patients and GM crops”.
Other suggestions included the abolition of rules around the size of vans requiring an operator’s licence, and of the limits on electrical power levels of electric bicycles,
Express readers also suggested the government could allow medical professionals such as pharmacists and paramedics to qualify in three years, simplify the calculation of holiday pay, and reduce requirements for businesses to conduct fixed wire testing and portable application testing.
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