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David Cameron appoints Lord Young to reintroduce common sense into the operation of health and safety laws

Picture 1 Excellent news from Downing Street this morning: David Cameron has appointed former Trade and Industry Secretary Lord Young of Graffham to conduct a Whitehall-wide review of "the operation of health and safety laws and the growth of the compensation culture."

Announcing his appointment, David Cameron said:

“I’m very pleased that Lord Young has agreed to lead this important review. The rise of the compensation culture over the last ten years is a real concern, as is the way health and safety rules are sometimes applied. We need a sensible new approach that makes clear these laws are intended to protect people, not overwhelm businesses with red tape. I look forward to receiving Lord Young’s recommendations on how we can best achieve that.”

Lord Young added:

“Health and safety regulation is essential in many industries but may well have been applied too generally and have become an unnecessary burden on firms, but also community organisations and public services. I hope my review will reintroduce an element of common sense and focus the regulation where it is most needed. We need a system that is proportionate and not bureaucratic.”

Amen to that. The press and organisations like the Campaign Against Political Correctness regularly keep us aware of the nonsenses arising from the excesses of the health and safety culture (I recently highlighted the ban on cheese-rolling in Gloucestershire and today's Daily Mail has more).

But there is a very serious side to this whole issue. Needless regulations have made people less inclined to do voluntary work on account of the required box-ticking and jumping through hoops; meanwhile children's development is being hindered as school trips and all sorts of other activities fall foul of the health and safety brigade. Julian Brazier wrote about this very matter in this Platform piece last year, so I very much hope that Lord Young will feed his research into the review.

Jonathan Isaby


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