Book News: August 5th, 1999

By John Blundell and Colin Robinson

Much government regulation fails to achieve its objectives because it most often arises from the pressure of interest groups, not from pursuit of the ‘public interest’. Once established, regulatory bodies tend to expand under their own momentum: they are not constrained by costs because most of the costs fall on those who are regulated. Compliance costs far exceed costs born by regulators and, even more important, government regulation dampens enterprise and hinders progress in meeting people’s wants. In the absence of regulation, voluntary rules would be set. Examples of voluntary rules include engineering insurance schemes and the Portman Group’s voluntary codes to prevent alcohol mis-use. The authors recommend that governments in Britain and elsewhere roll back regulation, replacing it with a voluntary approach.

Institute of Economic Affairs Occasional Paper No 109. ISBN 0-255 36426-1. pp 44, 5.50 pounds (includes p&p UK & Europe)