Understanding Regulation

Facts, Analysis and Comment


Too Much, Too Little, Too Hard to Understand?

Regulation = Protection. Regulation protects the weak and vulnerable. It protects the environment.

But regulation also makes illegal that which would otherwise be legal.

Regulation is therefore always controversial, and it can be very complex.

This website aims to provide information about, and to analyse, these issues. Its author was formerly Chief Executive of the UK's Better Regulation Executive and then the Competition Commission. The menu below should help you quickly find the pages you need. There is also a comprehensive online library and this online search facility:


Key & Current Issues


Getting The Balance Right - Better Regulation & Deregulation

Ministers have in recent years found that regulation is generally more politically attractive than the alternatives - such as tax and spend. This has led to constant complaints about the burden and intrusiveness of regulation. Ministers have responded by launching frequent deregulation initiatives, including the introduction of regulatory budgets. Have they worked?

The regulation of risks to health and safety is a particularly tricky policy area. There are constant complaints that we are paying far too much attention to health and safety, and producing dull young adults who are risk- and exercise-averse. However ... we have cut child deaths as a result of preventable accidents from 1,100 in 1979 to less than 200 in 2011. There aren't many parents who would turn back this particular clock. On the other hand - the UK invests heavily in automatic train protection (ATP) where every £5 million saves one life - but it could save 50 lives on the roads. How can this make sense?

Follow the links below to read detailed analyses of, and comment on, these interesting questions.


Competition Policy & Utility Regulation

Competition, like fire, is a great servant and a terrible master. This section describes the UK competition regime, and discusses what works well, and what doesn't. (A separate section, below, focuses on specific sectors and industries.)


Regulated Industries and Sectors


About, Resources & Contact

Further information About this website, and Contact information, is here.

There is an extensive on-line reference library here.

My blog is here and a link to my Twitter feed is in the footer below.

These websites have other interesting detail: