“Policy by parable and legislation by anecdote”

Parliament’s Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill committee met last week and took evidence from Adrian Beecroft whose report on employment law came out in May, and made many suggestions on how employers could sack their staff more easily and employ cheaper casual labour.

Most of the proposals of in last month’s Beecroft’s report are being worked on by the coalition government, they include attacks on the rights of workers to go to tribunals against unfair dismissal, including the infamous “no-fault” dismissals. The report calls for more migrant workers from abroad, and the removal of any requirement to advertise jobs locally in JobCentre Plus. Measures are also put forward to increase casual labour, by easing the rules on agencies and reducing their inspection. There are also proposals that will effect eligibility to occupational pensions in small businesses.

Labour members at the committee questioned why he had not looked “at robust, empirical evidence” rather than rely “on unreliable, out-of-date, anecdotal evidence to come to these prejudicial conclusions.” Chris Ruane MP for the Vale of Clwyd accused Beecroft of “proposing policy by parable and legislation by anecdote.”

Beecroft is a venture capitalist and he admits to basing his report “covering all employment law” on a series conversations and that his conclusions were not based on a “statistically valid sample of people”. His projects in the past have involved worsening the pay and conditions of employees and sacking numerous workers.

His report is in the style and contains the level of ideas, that we have come to expect of this condemned government. None-the-less, Beecroft would have had ample opportunities for his many conversations with company bosses and financial magnates, by trawling the more than 20 boards of directors he is a member of.

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