A Country at Ease with Itself

It is customary for those in public life who set out their ideas to sensationalize their work with overblown claims about its urgency. Thus we are usually told that "Britain stands at the crossroads," and that critical choices have to be made which will determine the entire future of the nation. Such claims serve to underline the dire warnings of the writer, to alarm people that we face some sort of "crisis," and to suggest that only prompt action based on those selfsame insights can avert the impending catastrophe. I make no such claims. Britain stands at no crossroads except in the trivial sense that every present is a crossroads where the past meets the future. I do not believe that this nation is in crisis or that only the immediate adoption of urgent remedies can save it. On the contrary, I believe that Britain is well on course, and is in the process of making a seamless transition from the policies which succeeded in the 180s to those which will succeed in the 1990s.

Thus my purpose is not an attempt to sound the alert to some impending emergency, however much interest such drama would add to my words. It is rather to show how the principles which enabled us to solve many of the problems of the last decade can develop the policies we need to tackle the different priorities which the current decade presents.


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An Arresting Idea

At the centre of the problem for the Police Service is the fact that while the crime rate appears to rise inexorably, local authorities and central government have to operate within an economic framework of financial restraint. Resource allocation to the police therefore not only implies difficult decisions, but is further complicated because the business of evaluating the success of the police is an imprecise and highly subjective matter.

The Police Service with its monopolistic, un–competitive structure, operates all too easily in an environment where there is little or no yardstick for comparison against alternatives. This report looks at the different ways that crime is combatted. It also argues that a return to local policing is the way forward to fight the rising levels of crime with the major restructuring of the police service giving rise to greater service evaluation, improved efficiency and a more flexible response to the increasing market demand for choice.

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Why Not Work

"To offer people the chance to work and contribute their bit to the community must be better than trapping them in a depressing state of enforced idleness that leaves them less and less able to get back to work." So wrote Ralph Howell in 1991. Following on from Why Unemployment, he argues for radical changes to the welfare system so people can get back to work.

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Does socialism mean never having to say you're sorry?

In this essay, Professor Kenneth Minogue puts in context the claim that events in Eastern Europe leave the genuine blueprint of socialism quite untorn. He argues that it represents just one more example of a familiar human frailty, the sad but common unwillingness of human beings to give up their most cherished beliefs and prejudices.  

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European Pharmaceutical Policies

The following publication is a summary of key policies toward pharmaceuticals in three European countries, Britain, France and West Germany, in 1989. Four key policy areas are covered: pricing and reimbursement, registration, research and development and patents. Some reference is made to pharmaceutical policies in other European countries where this is thought to be particularly relevant or illuminating.

It provides an overview of key policies and may be regarded as a primer for non-experts.

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Bucking the Market

There is a growing consensus in Britain that urgent membership of the Exchange Rate Mechanism of the European Monetary System is required to cure Britain's inflation and to secure the re-election of the Conservatives at the next election. The argument put forward by proponents of membership is, however, flawed and many of those who argue for membership have secondary reasons unconnected with sound analyses of the problems facing the British economy. Most of these arguments skim swiftly over the economic reasons for membership to concentrate on the political or the future of the EEC. And, indeed, many proponents of ERM are also unapologetic supporters of full monetary union. It is interesting that the clamouring for membership of the ERM is only now being put forward as a panacea for our inflationary problems. It was not so mooted as a cure for the inflation faced by Britain in the early 1980s. Is it a coincidence that the current calls for membership of the ERM occur at the same time as those in favour of full monetary union are pressing ahead on the next stage of their plan?

This paper seeks to scrutinise the major arguments put forward in favour of ERM membership - whether it be early membership, or even membership "when the time is right". It argues that membership of the ERM would not solve the problems faced by Britain. It seeks to establish this by concentrating on the following areas:

  1. by exposing the flaws in the economic argument in favour of joining the ERM;
  2. by highlighting the political implications of membership.


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A Moving Experience

Edward Brooks says the English house-selling system is archaic, costly, slow, and nerve-racking for all concerned. His solution? Binding contracts, house logbooks, searches done by vendors before the house is put on the market - and a second-hand market in houses.

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A Friend in Need

Based on the ideas of Labour MP Frank Field, this report suggests steps toward localization of welfare services through the old Friendly Societies system, rather than the modern state-centered organization. In a bold move away from his party, Field recognized the problems of the state controlled system and the benefits that market forces and local control could incur on the system proposal. In the move back to the Friendly Societies, unemployment benefits would be dispensed locally with specialized services specific to communities, giving customers options of moving to Societies which benefit them most - increasing level of service for all through competition. This report finally concludes that such a change could improve not only the UK, but services across Europe as the trends of competitiveness spread.

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Adam Smith's Legacy

Prominent academics, journalists and politicians highlight the historical contribution of Adam Smith and the role of his ideas in the shaping of modern economic thinking. Includes contributions by Leo Rosten, Professors William Letwin and Edwin G West who speak to The Wealth of Nations and The Theory of Moral Sentiments specifically, Richard Vernier, Russell Lewis, writing about Adam Smith today, Rt Hon Nicholas Ridley, Professor Norman Barry with a piece about the ethics of capitalism, and Dr Jeremy Shearmur.

Read the full essay collection here