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Goodbye 'elf and safety'? Cameron announces review of 'joke' regulations and 'compensation culture'


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Goodbye 'elf and safety: Cameron announces review of 'joke' regulations and 'compensation culture'



By Jason Groves

Last updated at 7:20 AM on 14th June 2010




article-0-02B3D09E00000578-932_233x423.jpg 'Unsafe': Roland Grimm and the goggles banned by a public pool


David Cameron last night announced plans to tear up a decade of health and safety rules that have been blamed for crippling business and stifling the British way of life.


The Prime Minister unveiled a wide-ranging review of Labour's safety laws as well as the country's 'compensation culture', led by former Cabinet minister Lord Young.


The 78-year-old, who served under Margaret Thatcher, has described current legislation as a 'joke' and will be asked to help the Government drive through reform after completing his review.


Mr Cameron said: '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.'

He held out the prospect of wide-ranging reforms saying he was determined to see Lord Young's recommendations put 'into effect'.

Lord Young was commissioned to advise Mr Cameron on health and safety laws last year and his work will become a full-scale review with civil service support.

The former trade secretary said the once serious issue of health and safety had become a 'music hall joke' under Labour, with schools banning children from playing conkers, restaurants barring tooth picks and one swimming pool declaring a pair of goggles unsafe.

And he argued the change in culture could even be counterproductive, putting people in more danger in certain circumstances.

He said: 'Teachers have to fill in so many forms if they want to take children on a field trip, there have been three instances where police have stood by and let people drown as a result of health and safety and we have offices subjected to health and safety laws that were meant for heavy industry. It has gone too far.'



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Lord Young also wants to curb the compensation culture fuelled by the rapid growth in no-win, no fee agreements.

He said the NHS alone had paid out more than £8billion over the last five years in personal injury claims, of which two-thirds went to lawyers. 'That is four or five billion pounds that could and should have gone into healthcare,' he added.

Although much of Britain's health and safety legislation now comes from Brussels, Lord Young said government departments had a tendency to 'gold-plate' it and make it even more onerous than it need be.

He 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.

Lord Young will deliver initial findings next month before taking up an advisory role in Whitehall.

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How about whoever loses a court case, pays BOTH attorneys? That should stop people from making frivolous lawsuits.


And regulations never saved anybody. Common sense does. Risk is part of work. Work is unpleasant business, nobody wants to do it. That's why you're paid for it.

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Regulations are just a way for the government to extract and enforce a part of labor contracts that would exist naturally in a free market.


Labor does have bargaining power without government help, believe it or not.


Lack of common sense happens when people forget how to negotiate and rely on the government to do it for them!

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