Sam Dumitriu shows front page support for Uber in City AM

Head of Projects, Sam Dumitriu, made the front page of City AM this week following the news that Sadiq Khan will require Uber drivers to take an english test. Sam said:

"Rather than regulating Uber and protecting black cabs, Sadiq should show that London is open to competition. 
"He should lobby to remove the restrictions that ban the ride-sharing business models of competitors like Lyft to give consumers a real choice. The mayor's proposals have been welcomed by the London Taxi Driver Association but could be subject to further consultation."

Read the full article here

Britain’s struggling Border Force is in no state to manage a post-Brexit migration crackdown, Sam Bowman writes for City AM

On the back of his latest paper, "The Border after Brexit: How technology can secure Britain’s borders", Sam Bowman wrote for City AM:

When we leave the EU, we may bring in work permits or some other way of controlling immigration from Europe. The home secretary confirmed that this was on the table this weekend.
To do this, however, we will need to overhaul our Border Force. In a new report released this week, I outline the deep problems that face the Border Force in carrying out its current duties, which Brexit will only add to.
The Force is under-equipped and reliant on outdated technology to do a job that is increasingly demanding, as passenger flows rise and the danger of terrorist attacks continues. It simply does not have the tools it needs to do its job, and nobody seems willing to take responsibility for fixing that.
Passport control is the most visible of the Border Force’s roles, and every traveller dreads a slow queue after a long-haul flight. Even in this role, the Force is not performing well.

We need a modern, integrated system based on biometric technology that allows for fast, accurate and easy identification of travellers as they enter and exit the country. We don’t need to build this ourselves – the government would be better off buying the technology from the private sector.

The Border Force has been failed by Whitehall, and cannot do its job properly. Someone needs to grasp the nettle and take responsibility for giving it the tools it needs.

Border Force paper gets a clean sweep of national media coverage

The ASI's latest paper, The Border after Brexit: How technology can secure Britain’s borders, has received widespread coverage following its release.

The Sunday Times reported:

The report by the Adam Smith Institute, a free market think tank, identified findings buried in a review of airport security by David Bolt, the independent chief inspector of border and immigration.
The watchdog found that the Border Force had overlooked the 23 flights because it had failed to properly check their details against security databases and watch lists.

The Daily Telegraph reported:

The UK’s Border Force is in disarray after years of neglect, while the rising number of passengers has stretched the organisation to breaking point, the Adam Smith Institute warns.
While passenger numbers through Britain’s ports and airports have risen by a fifth this decade and are expected to rise by another 43 per cent by 2030, funding for border checks has been slashed, the think tank says.

The Sun reported:

Despite being responsible for monitoring the 225 million annual arrivals in the UK, “years of neglect” have left the force without the up to-date equipment it needs to carry out checks properly, it is claimed today.
The new study by the Adam Smith Institute has also found that more than £1 billion has been wasted in “crippling failures” by the agency.

The Daily Mail reported: 

In another blow, a report by the Adam Smith Institute claimed the Border Force was failing to screen more than 4,000 high-risk flights a year. The think-tank based its claim on an investigation by David Bolt, the Independent Chief Inspector of Border and Immigration.
Sample checks carried out over two days found that 23 so-called ‘high risk’ flights – 7.5 per cent of the total – were missed by the Border Force. Over the course of a year, this equates to 4,197 flights slipping through the net.

Mail Online reported:

Most of the unidentified flights would be charter planes and private aircraft that land at remote airfields and do not handed over passenger information to UK authorities in advance.
But they can include commercial flights from countries such as Turkey, Yemen and Pakistan. The findings were buried in a review of airport security by Mr Bolt and identified by the Adam Smith Institute, which is publishing a report on the UK Border Force tomorrow.

The Daily Express reported:

The institute concluded that the Government must thoroughly modernise the force, introducing a biometric scanning system in partnership with the private sector. The report also concluded that the Border Force had been failed by successive governments due to financial constraints and “hapless management” by Whitehall mandarins.

Metro reported:

At least one Daesh terrorist has sneaked in and out of the UK unchecked in findings that show the Border Force is in 'complete disarray', it claims. The unit, which screens 225 million visitors a year, is 'not fit for purpose' the Adam Smith Institute has said.

The Mirror reported:

It calls for a new computer system to help track who is entering the country and beef-up controls. And it wants every passenger coming to Britain screened to ensure they are not a threat.
Its report says: “The Advance Passenger Information System is an international standard that exists to give advance notice to border agencies of all passengers en route to their destination, giving those agencies time to check and decide on how to treat questionable passengers before they arrive.

The Scotsman reported:

Sam Bowman, executive director of the Adam Smith Institute, said: “A successful Border Force needs to do two things: keep people out of the country who should not be allowed in, and do so without causing unnecessary disruption to other passengers.

Sam Bowman appeared on BBC 5 Live to discuss the paper, which also went out across all BBC regional stations.


New study reveals crippling failures in control of Britain’s border leaving high risk travelers unchecked

  • British Border Force in complete disarray after years of neglect
  • Rising passenger numbers straining stretched force to breaking point
  • As many as 4,197 high-risk flights not physically met by Border Force each year
  • Brexit call for tighter controls over immigration must be met
  • Failed reform attempts have cost the taxpayer £1 BILLION
  • UK needs fully revamped computer system to secure borders

Britain’s Border Force has been let down by successive governments and left in a state of complete disarray, according to a new report released by the Adam Smith Institute this morning.
Britain’s overrun Border Force is responsible for inspecting and screening around 225 million incoming travelers to the UK each year, from major airports to the smallest sea port, but has not been given the up-to-date equipment it needs to carry out checks on passengers efficiently or securely.

 This has allowed some ‘high-risk’ travelers to enter and leave the country unchecked – including at least one ISIS member. The report reveals that while the Border Force claims to process 99% of high-risk flights, as many as 4,197 of these flights are not actually met by Border Force agents, risk assessed or remotely checked against a security database, as is supposed to happen.
While passenger numbers have risen by 20% since 2010, and are expected to rise by a further 43% by 2030, the Border Force’s funding has been slashed. Spending per passenger is down 25% and morale in the Force is at an all-time low, with staff reporting that they do not have the resources needed to do their job properly.
The vote for Brexit reflected the public demand for control over UK borders and showed the catastrophic lack of trust in the current system. Having control over the border is not merely a phrase, argues the report – we must know who is coming into the country and have the ability to block them from doing so if the law requires it. The current system is not fit for purpose and some parts of the Border Force’s national security systems are fourteen years out of date.
Previous attempts to reform the system have been disastrous failures, estimated to cost the taxpayer in excess of £1 billion. Rather than turning to private firms demonstrating working systems, the Home Office chose the expensive, risky and time-consuming project of designing one in-house, which ultimately failed.
The UK needs a fully digitalized system that is future-proof to foreseeable advances in international standards. Biometric passports that contain more data than just written information or inaccurate facial recognition, collected during international travel as standard. This must be accurate, fast and non-invasive such as fingerprint scans.

Sam Bowman, Executive Director of the Adam Smith Institute and author of the paper, said:

“A successful Border Force needs to do two things: keep people out of the country who should not be allowed in, and do so without causing unnecessary disruption to other passengers. In both these respects the Border Force is not succeeding. Its security systems are out of date, overstretched and failing to cover all passengers adequately. It’s astonishing that potentially thousands of high-risk flights are not being checked properly by the Border Force.
“Its target times for vetting inbound passengers are extremely generous, and even then they are regularly not met. With the technology available it should be possible for regular visitors from low-risk countries such as the United States or Japan to walk through British customs like a visitor walks in and out of the Underground network.”
Ed West, co author of the paper, said:
“Brexit is unlikely to mean a reduction in immigration. Visitor numbers are only likely to increase as Asia's middle class grows, and it's vital that we not only successfully attract visitors and investors from around the world but that the public can trust the system in place to protect us.

“Increasingly research shows the importance of trust for successful societies, political systems and economies. The public must have faith in the country’s borders. The alternative is much blunter policy tools that restrict immigration of legitimate, productive migrants even more, and creates a deep suspicion and sense of fear about foreigners in Britain.”
Notes to editors:

For further comments or to arrange an interview, contact Flora Laven-Morris, Head of Communications, at | 07584 778207.

To report ‘The Border after Brexit: How technology can secure Britain’s borders’ will be live on the Adam Smith Institute website from 00:01 Monday 12th September 2016 and is available here in advance.

The Adam Smith Institute is a free market, libertarian think tank based in London. It advocates classically liberal public policies to create a richer, freer world.

Network Fail inspires Times leader and ITV News report

The ASI's latest paper, Network Fail, inspired this morning's Times leader "Money Pit: It is not inevitable that every big infrastructure project should cost billions and still soar over budget. Ministers must be held to account".

The article noted:

The most pernicious orthodoxies are those that evolve out of indifference. In Britain today it is accepted as inevitable that whenever a politician promises a new public project, the eventual cost will be far higher than the one first pledged.
HS2, the high-speed rail line, currently has a budget of £55 billion. This week, the Adam Smith Institute suggested the cost could rise to close to £80 billion. Yesterday The Times reported that the cost of renovations to the House of Commons could exceed £4 billion. 

Our Head of Research, Ben Southwood, also took to our screens to discuss the paper and the soaring costs of HS2 on ITV News.

Latest paper, Network Fail, makes for good commuter reading

The ASI's latest report, Network Fail: Getting UK Rail Back on Track, made this morning's papers. Featuring as the lead story in The Sun's city section and The Times homepage leader as well as the Daily Express, City AM and the Mail Online.

The Times reported:

The High Speed 2 rail project will cost up to nine times more than similar tracks in France and should be scrapped, the prime minister has been told. It would be “economically irresponsible” to press ahead with the project because the eventual costs could rise to £80 billion, according to an analysis by the Adam Smith Institute, a free-market think tank.
Running the trains at higher speeds, the need for new stations and the lack of existing expertise in building high-speed lines have all been blamed for making the construction of HS2 more expensive than projects overseas.

The Sun reported:

Ministers must sell off part of Network Rail to ease Britain's train chaos, a think tank urges today. It recommends that up to 49.9 per cent of the UK's track operator should be offloaded to smaller rail companies.
The Adam Smith Institute said efficiency would improve if they were responsible for the lines their trains run on - while £8billion would be raised for the public purse to boot.

The Daily Express reported:

Experts at the Adam Smith Institute called for Network Rail to be sold off by the Government and for the £50billion HS2 High Speed rail line to be scrapped.

City AM reported:

Southwood said that he didn’t think that Southern ought to be stripped of the franchise, as has been advocated by the London Assembly today. This is because of the way the franchise agreement is structured as a management contract.
He said the fact that Department for Transport tells Southern Rail exactly how to operate and then pays it a management fee for doing so undermines the whole process. “If you tell them everything to do then you are not really running a private company,” he said.

Mail Online reported:

The report called for the return of "vertical integration" in the rail network with smaller lines being progressively stripped from NR, and in the longer term regional railway companies emerging. More competition between operators should be promoted, according to the institute. Fewer than 1% of passenger miles travelled in Britain are on lines where competition exists through open access concessions.

The paper was also covered by 140 regional titles and rail trade publications.

NETWORK FAIL: Sell off Network Rail and scrap HS2 to get British train travel back on track

New report from the Adam Smith Institute calls on government to scrap costly HS2 and part privatise debt riddled Network Rail

  • Network Rail a massive drain on the taxpayer with £37.8 BILLION net debt
  • Government should sell off up to 49.9% of Network Rail raising £8 billion
  • Smaller railway lines should buy the tracks they run on from Network Rail and more competition between providers on trunk routes should be promoted
  • Hugely costly HS2 should also be scrapped and the focus put on electrification to stimulate the Northern Powerhouse

A new paper released this morning by the Adam Smith Institute calls on the government to get Britain’s trains back on track and ease the huge burden on the taxpayer.

The report, “Network Fail: Getting UK Rail Back on Track”, urges the government to sell off 49.9% of Network Rail, which it says lacks the discipline of the private sector, and should seek to replicate the success of the privatisation of the National Grid worth over £35bn.

Network Rail is an unwieldy beast with a vast debt burden of £37.8bn that is now included in public liabilities. It is a strain on the taxpayer and up to 49.9% needs to be sold off the paper argues: the Government’s 40% Eurostar disposal has shown there would be no lack of buyers.

The paper urges the government to promote vertical integration of smaller Network Rail-owned lines and to crack down on under performing rail franchise holders, terminating their franchise if necessary. Competition between providers on lines should also be promoted where possible, with only 1% of passenger journeys currently facing any direct rail competition.

The hugely costly and inefficient HS2 programme should also be scrapped the report urges. Currently on course to cost the taxpayer in excess of £50 billion, the HS2 project is both unnecessary, with current off-peak occupancy levels well below 50%, as well as being economically irresponsible - the numbers simply do not stack up. The report reveals that HS2 is costing up to 9x more per mile than high speed tracks in France, and will be reaping rock bottom returns.

If the UK is to achieve its “Northern Powerhouse” revival then it must focus on schemes like electrification of the TransPennine Railway and moving ahead with the London-Sheffield mainline. 

Adam Smith Institute fellow and author of the paper, Nigel Hawkins, said:

“Action to sort out Britain's railways is a priority. Radical decisions are needed to deliver financial competence, sensible investment and improved customer benefits into the system.

“Scrapping the shockingly expensive HS2, selling up to 49.9% of Network Rail and cracking down on under-performing franchises are priorities.”

Notes to editors:

For further comments or to arrange an interview, contact Flora Laven-Morris, Head of Communications, at | 07584 778207.

To report “Network Fail: Getting UK Rail Back on Track” will be live on the Adam Smith Institute website from 00:01 8th September 2016 and can be accessed ahead of time here. 

The Adam Smith Institute is a free market, libertarian think tank based in London. It advocates classically liberal public policies to create a richer, freer world.

Revoking Fabric's license is a disgrace says Sam Bowman

Following the news that Fabric has had its license revoked and will be forced to close, Sam Bowman made the following comment:

The decision by Islington Council to revoke Fabric’s license is a disgrace, and exactly the wrong way to reduce deaths from drugs. Closing Fabric won’t stop people from taking drugs at other clubs, even if they step up their searches of clubbers. Heavy-handed drugs searches are security theatre: they make non-clubbers feel happy, but realistically people will always be able to take drugs into clubs – there’s only so much security can do.
The objective should be to reduce harm to drug users, and the way to do that is to let them know what they’re using. That means testing drugs that are circulating in clubs and warning drug users if potentially dangerous batches are around – a scheme that has been piloted by some clubs in the past, and was tried successfully at the Secret Garden Party festival this summer. Acknowledging that people will take drugs, but doing what we can to keep them safe while they do so, is how we can avoid drug deaths.

Sam's comments featured in the Guardian and Mirror Online.

For further comments or to arrange an interview, contact Flora Laven-Morris, Head of Communications, at | 07584 778207.

Sam Bowman reacts to ruling out of points based immigration system

Sam Bowman, Executive Director of the Adam Smith Institute, reacting to the news that the Prime Minister has ruled out a points based immigration system, said:

“It’s great news that the Prime Minister has ruled out a points-based immigration system for EU nationals. Although we expect that some controls on freedom of movement are inevitable after Brexit, a heavy-handed approach would be bad for Britain. One option may be to only allow people who already have a job offer to immigrate.
“EU immigrants pay more in taxes than they cost in services and so help pay for the pensions, healthcare and education of native Britons, and curbing them harshly would probably make it impossible for us to remain in the Single Market. They do not harm the wages or job prospects of native workers. ( 
“This move by the Prime Minister is doubly encouraging because it suggests that Mrs May wants to go for a global Brexit. She is right to reject policies that would close us off from Europe – the real prize now will be opening up to the world.”

Sam's comments were included in print and online across the Guardian and the Daily Express.

For further comments or to arrange an interview, contact Flora Laven-Morris, Head of Communications, at | 07584 778207.

New paper Catch of Today hauls in the coverage

Dr. Madsen Pirie's latest paper, Catch of Today: A ten point plan for British fishing, went down a storm with the media this week receiving blanket coverage across national print, online and broadcast titles.

The Daily Mail reported:

Britain's exclusive fishing rights should be raised from 12 to 200 miles to keep out foreign vessels in the wake of the Brexit vote, said the Adam Smith Institute. It said naval and air patrols should keep out foreign boats, which currently take 80 per cent of the catch in UK waters.

The Daily Express reported:

Britain has given Britain the chance to retake control of its fishing industry, a top economist said yesterday. Foreign boats net 80 per cent of fish caught in our waters. And up to half are thrown back to comply with EU overfishing quotas. 
Dr. Madsen Pirie of the Adam Smith Institute wants to expand our zone from 12 miles to the 200 we had before we joined the EU.

The Sun reported:

Theresa May is being urged to boost our fishing industry by banning all foreign trawlers from UK waters. The PM should use the Navy and RAF to impose new rules, a think-tank says. In a report launched today the ASI declares that the ECFP has "savaged UK waters".  
Tory MP for Dover, Charlie Elphicke, said: "This report has some powerful ideas that will protect British territorial waters". Last night Defra said: "Our fishing industry is immensely valuable and supporting our fisherman will form an important part of our exit from the EU."

City AM reported:

The think tank has also called for the creation of two new bodies, the Maritime Research Institute, which would monitor fish stocks, and a National Fisheries Council, which would determine a total allowable catch and quota for each species. 
The ASI claims the ECFP has "drastically limited" the exclusivity of fishing waters from 200 miles of the coast when it joined in 1973 to 12 miles now, enabling up to 80 per cent of catches in UK waters to be netter by foreign ships.

The Herald reported:

A new report from the Adam Smith Institute states the UK has a unique opportunity to reverse the "savage" damage done by the European Common Fisheries Policy (ECFP).
The institute says the EU's catch quotas have resulted in 1.7million tonnes of fish being thrown back into the sea each year. The ASI urged Britain to follow the example of Iceland and Norway and stay out of the ECFP after Brexit. 

The Press and Journal (Aberdeen) reported:

A leading think tank has delivered a ten-point action plan it says is a blueprint for reshaping the UK's fishing industry in the wake of Brexit. The ASI said the EU referendum outcome in June was a unique chance to make UK fishing "viable and profitable"

Mail Online reported:

The ASI has urged Britain to follow the example of Norway and Iceland and stay out of the ECFP after Brexit negotiations. With 80% of UK fishing stocks being caught by foreign boats, the ASI has called for the extension of the country's Exclusive Economic Zone from the current 12 miles off shore, to 200 miles out.

Dr. Pirie appeared on BBC Good Morning Scotland :

Ben Southwood discussed the paper on LBC:

And Madsen also appeared on Share Radio to discuss the report, available here