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


New paper from the Adam Smith Institute urges the government to take back control of UK waters

  • UK has a unique opportunity to rewrite its fishing policy following Brexit
  • European Common Fisheries Policy has savaged UK waters
  • 80% of fish caught in UK waters netted by foreign boats
  • 1.7 tonnes of fish dumped in the sea last year, some years as much as 50% of all fish caught thrown back dead or dying to the water
  • UK must follow Norway and Iceland and join environmental and commercial interest

A new paper released this morning by the Adam Smith Institute calls on the government to take back control of UK waters and bring an end to the billions of fish thrown back dead into the sea each year.

The report lays out a comprehensive ten point plan for how Britain can replenish its waters following Brexit and reveals the full extent of the damage caused by the European Common Fisheries Policy (ECFP).

The ECFP drastically limited the exclusivity of fishing waters in the UK from 200 miles off the coast to just 12 miles when it joined in 1973. This has allowed all EU member states to fish in UK waters, with British Sea Fishing estimating that 80% of catches are netted by foreign ships, often killing dolphins and porpoises in the process.

The EU’s Total Allowable Catch quota has led to the dumping of dead and dying edible fish back into the sea to the tune of 1.7 million tonnes a year. Some estimates even suggest that up to 50% of all fish caught is thrown dead back into the water. The catastrophic policy has decimated fish stocks in Europe and has lead to the systematic plundering of developing countries waters with heavily subsidised and oversized boats.

The UK has the chance to change this following its exit from the European Union, and marry commercial interest with environmental ones. The report urges that the UK must implement a fishing policy that is both sustainable and profitable by learning from the successful policies of Iceland and Norway, who are not part of the European Common Fisheries Policy.

The report recommends the following policies for the UK fishing industry upon withdrawal from the EU and its Common Fisheries Policy:

  1. Extension of Exclusive Economic Zone from 12 miles to the 200 miles from UK shores as specified by the United Nations International Convention on the Law of the Sea.
  2. Ban fishing in UK waters without specific consent and require all boats to be registered.
  3. Naval and air patrols over UK fishing waters to identify and intercept illegal fishing.
  4. Creation of a Maritime Research Institute tasked with monitoring fish stocks, examining the levels of the different species, mapping breeding grounds, and recording all catches made within UK waters.
  5. Creation of a National Fisheries Council to determine a total allowable catch for each species and assign a quota to each registered fishing vessel that is divisible and tradable. All catches must be landed, and if any exceed the quota, the vessel must trade or buy quotas from others.
  6. All boats fitted with satellite tracking devices, and their position constantly indexed.
  7. All catches size and species recorded on landing with information uploaded to a public database.
  8. UK fishing waters divided into administrative zones with the National Fisheries Council able to impose an immediate suspension of fishing in any areas where the sustainability of any fish stocks appears to be at risk.
  9. Inspections from the National Fisheries Council on any boat two times per year.
  10. The National Fisheries Council and the Maritime Research Council to publish all their information online, accessible to members of the public as well as to the industry.

Author of the paper and president of the Adam Smith Institute, Dr. Madsen Pirie, said:

“This ten-point action plan gives Britain a blueprint to reshape its entire fishing industry in the wake of Brexit. We have a chance to make UK fishing a viable and profitable enterprise, while pursuing a policy that restores and sustains fishing stocking within its waters.

“Vested interests, lobbying and political protection of national interests have taken more from the sea than it can put back. It is time for alternative policies to be explored and pursued.”


Notes to editors:

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

The report “Catch of Today” will be live on the Adam Smith Institute website from 09:00 24th August 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.

The Daily Telegraph cites ASI over airport liquid restrictions

The Daily Telegraph has cited a blog from the Adam Smith Institutes' Head of Projects, Sam Dumitriu, on airport liquid restrictions:

According to the Adam Smith Institute, one of the world’s leading think tanks, current restrictions would not prevent determined terrorists from getting liquid explosives through airport security.
“Indeed, the very basis of the restrictions seem weak,” it said, in a recent blog post. 
“Even if a would-be terrorist wasn't able to bring enough of an explosive on board as part of their liquid allowance, they could still buddy up with a couple others troublemakers and simply mix the explosive liquids together in a bigger bottle bought in duty free.”

Sam Dumitriu's blog post can be read in full here

Eamonn Butler tells it like it is to the Mail on Sunday

Director of the Adam Smith Institute, Eamonn Butler, didn't pull any punches over NHS pensions speaking with the Mail on Sunday this week. Discussing the million pound pension pots accumulated by some health bosses Dr. Butler said:

"It is sickening that anyone in the public sector can clock up multimillion-pound pensions and fringe benefits when ordinary people have no hope of saving anything like that amount – particularly with interest rates virtually zero.

"People struggling to look after their families and manage their finances will be justly outraged they are having to pay higher taxes to keep others in retirement luxury.’ Danny Cox, of pensions firm Hargreaves Lansdown, said an NHS pension with a nominal value of £1million would provide the holder with an annual income of £55,000 to £60,000 for life, plus a tax-free lump sum of around £165,000."

The article also appeared on Mail Online and can be viewed here