HC Deb 08 July 1992 vol 211 c321
4. Mr. Quentin Davies

To ask the President of the Board of Trade what plans he has for the future of the deregulation unit in his Department.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Corporate Affairs (Mr. Neil Hamilton)

Deregulation is one of the Government's most important initiatives—at local, national and European level. We aim to abolish unnecessary regulations—

Mr. Skinner

Why does the Minister not light up his tie?

Mr. Hamilton

Why does the hon. Gentleman not switch off?

We aim to abolish unnecessary regulations and licences, to make them as clear and effective as possible where they remain necessary, and to ensure proper compliance cost assessments in the case of new proposals.

The deregulation unit helps to co-ordinate the work of units in all Departments and we intend to continue with a vigorous programme of cutting red tape.

Mr. Davies

Does my hon. Friend agree that it is much more difficult to get rid of restrictions and regulations than to dream up new ones and that, therefore, a continuous effort is required by Government to redress the balance? In that context, will my hon. Friend give some thought to asking the deregulation unit to produce an annual report of its performance as a spur to and measurement of achievement?

Mr. Hamilton

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his interest in the subject. We have an annual programme of reform in that sector. I report from time to time, usually by way of a parliamentary question, on the progress that has been made. I shall certainly give sympathetic consideration to my hon. Friend's request.

Mr. Hain

Is the Minister's definition of deregulation taking on a new meaning? I ask that question as his Department decided to strip the Royal Mail prefix from the Post Office's parcel force business. It seems as though that move may be an initiative to privatise that section of the Post Office.

Mr. Hamilton

I hope that you will agree, Madam Speaker, that that supplementary question was wholly irrelevant to the main question.

Madam Speaker

Order. As the Minister is responsible for the deregulation unit, the question was probably appropriate. [HON. MEMBERS: "Answer."] Order. If that is the Minister's answer, so be it. The hon. Member for Neath (Mr. Hain) will probably table a substantive question in future.