Friday, 1 June 2012

Taking politics out of political regulation?

Leveson asked: "If you're giving so much weight to independent regulators at every stage and you're removing your discretion to a very large degree, if not entirely, why not just give the whole decision to independent regulators? That's what we do in competition law. It used to be in competition law that those decisions were made also by secretaries of state and we removed that and gave that to independent regulators."
Hunt replied: "I do have some sympathy with that view, because even though the decision I took was totally impartial, I always felt there were going to be elements of the public that would never believe it was. I still believe it's perfectly possible for politicians to set aside their views and take decisions in a quasi-judicial impartial way, but I do think that you have to try very hard, because you know that some of the decisions you make could have an impact on future relationships and you have to set all that consideration aside."
In contrast, Cable said: "I think there's everything to be said for having elected officials, councillors or MPs, as ministers, making decisions in public interest cases."
He went on: "There is a very clearly prescribed process which the politicians have to follow, they are subject to legal advice at every stage. I wouldn't be comfortable with simply abandoning this quite complex arrangement for something that seeks artificial comfort in a purely – well, bureaucratic or purely judicial mechanism."
Cable did argue that media ownership rules should be clearer so that politicians are working in clearer tramlines.

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