Brexiteers propose return of imperial measurements in report on reducing 'red tape'

Tory MP Iain Duncan Smith

Tory MP Iain Duncan Smith - Credit: BBC

Boris Johnson has said that a path through the “thicket of burdensome and restrictive regulation” must be cleared to fulfil the potentials of Brexit.

A report from Taskforce on Innovation, Growth and Regulatory Reform (TIGRR) led by Iain Duncan Smith has described Brexit as a "one-off opportunity" to reduce red tape and set out a new regulatory framework.

The taskforce set out more than 100 recommendations which include the authorisation of GM foods to increase crop yields and a return of imperial measurements.

The report claims the 1985 Weights and Measures Act - which makes it an offence for traders to use imperial without metric - has “long been identified as an example of overly prescriptive EU regulation”. They say the legislation should be amended to scrap such a requirement.

The group, which includes Tory MPs George Freeman and Theresa Villiers, also called for a replacement of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) with a UK Data Protections Framework.

They urge “reform” of the Northern Ireland Protocol, saying it “limits the scope” for enacting their suggestions to reduce bureaucracy while maintaining standards.

The report also calls for “regulations that encourage and enable local authorities to invest their pension fund” in order to fund “their own local economic regeneration”.

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Opening the document, the MPs wrote: “We appreciate that the Northern Ireland Protocol limits the scope for application of these reforms in that part of our country.

“We hope that future reform of the Protocol may allow greater scope for regulatory reform in Northern Ireland so that its economy can benefit from the proposals we set out.”

Smith commented that the report “shows the way ahead with the move to the proportionality principle setting a more flexible and balanced approach to future regulations and changes to existing regulations”.

In a letter to the taskforce, the prime minister thanked them for the “substantive plans that will really put a TIGRR in the tank of British business”.

“It is obvious that the UK’s innovators and entrepreneurs can lead the world in the economy of the future, creating new opportunities and greater prosperity along the way, and levelling up our whole country in the process,” he wrote.

“But your report makes it equally clear that, whether in data reform or clinical trials, offshore wind or autonomous vehicles, this can only happen if we clear a path through the thicket of burdensome and restrictive regulation that has grown up around our industries over the past half century.”

But Green Party peer Natalie Bennett, however, said that cutting red tape "gave us Grenfell Tower, the 2007-08 financial crisis, and falling work standards."

She tweeted: "When you hear 'red tape', think 'controls that protect us and control corporations'.  Because that's what they are."

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