The House of Lords Economic Affairs Committees invites submissions for its inquiry into "The Government's Policy on the Management of Risk".

The Chairman of the Committee, Lord Wakeham, said:

"Risk management is a critical issue across every area of Government involvement. The Committee will examine how the Government handles risk and see how far it succeeds in finding the right balance between inevitable risks and the costs involved in reducing them."

Questions that the Committee intends to address are set out in the attached Call for Evidence (page 2).

The Committee is inviting organisations and individuals to submit written evidence by 30 January 2006. The Committee will hold its first evidence sessions with The Rt Hon John Hutton, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office on Tuesday 8 November.

For further details contact the Clerk to the Committee, Robert Graham-Harrison, on 020 7219 6968.  Email .


The members of the Select Committee on Economic Affairs are:

Lord Kingsdown

Lord Lamont of Lerwick

Lord Lawson of Blaby

Lord Layard

Lord Macdonald of Tradeston

Lord Paul

Lord Powell of Bayswater

Lord Roper

Lord Sheldon

Lord Sheppard of Didgemere

Lord Skidelsky

Lord Vallance of Tummel

Lord Wakeham (Chairman)


Government Policy on the Management of Risk

The Economic Affairs Committee has decided to conduct an inquiry into 'The Government's Policy on the Management of Risk'.

Evidence is invited by 30 January 2006. The Committee will welcome written submissions on any or all of the issues set out below.

Most people appear to be risk-averse, in the sense that they would like to see a reduction in the risks they face both at work and in everyday life. At the same time, most people aspire to a higher standard of living, with a good education for their children, good working conditions, comfortable housing, higher-quality goods and services, and the protection of their rights, culture and environment. All of these things compete for scarce resources and in practice there is a limit to the material sacrifices that individuals and societies are willing to make to achieve reductions in the risks affecting their health, security and safety.

The Committee will inquire into government policy on risk, and in particular on the appropriate balance between reducing the risks encountered in various aspects of life and the costs involved in achieving those risk reductions. Although the Committee intends to examine the general principles that underpin government policy measures with respect to risk, it also intends to examine their application in practical circumstances in a number of specific sectors. The inquiry will seek answers to questions of the following kind.

  • By what practical means can the preferences and attitudes of the population towards risk be determined and, where appropriate, incorporated into public policy?

  • Can appropriate monetary values be estimated and attached to risk-related factors?  Is it appropriate and practical to use non-monetary measures of well-being?  What is the scope for other methods of public consultation, in order to determine public attitudes to risk?

  • Is it possible to identify fundamental principles that should be applied across the public sector, and are the same principles equally applicable to the private sector? 

  • Is there sufficient consistency and coherence in the application of risk assessment and management policies across government departments and agencies?

  • How should policy deal with cases where public perceptions of risks diverge significantly from expert assessments?

  • How should policy deal with risks that are unknown or poorly understood, such as those associated with new technologies?

  • How should policy balance the health and safety interests of the current population against those of future generations?

  • Are there any particular or unusual problems arising in cases of rare but catastrophic risks?