§ 14. Mr. French
To ask the President of the Board of Trade what have been the findings of each of the deregulation task forces set up last March.
§ Mr. Neil Hamilton
More than 600 proposals for removing unecessary burdens are being put forward by the seven business task forces. The eighth task force, on the voluntary sector and charities, will report shortly. I expect to be able to publish the contents of the deregulation task forces' investigation documents as soon as possible.
§ Mr. French
Has my hon. Friend had an opportunity to read the General, Municipal, Boilermakers and Allied Trades Union publication entitled "Freedom to Kill? The case against deregulation", in which it is argued that the Government are endeavouring to weaken the laws that protect employees against death, injury and disease and give unscrupulous employers the right to kill? Will my hon. Friend join me in condemning the hysterical and emotional language in that publication and confirm that the Government's proposals are reasonable and should not be allowed totally unnecessarily to cause anxiety?
§ Mr. Hamilton
My hon. Friend is perfectly correct, but he must remember that where the Opposition and their trade union allies are concerned criticism is never inhibited by ignorance. This is a good example because the Government do not have any firm proposals in the area. The deregulation task forces have made their suggestions for deregulation. We are not obliged to accept them, but it would be sensible to debate the proposals in an adult way; then we can take a balanced view of their desirability. To condemn things out of hand, on the basis of emotion, hysteria, shroud waving and headline grabbing is not exactly an adult approach for an Opposition.
§ Mr. Illsley
Will the Minister tell the House why local authorities were excluded from the deregulation task forces? Would it not have been sensible to allow local authority trading standards officers to be part of them, as they are the people best placed to determine which regulations are redundant and which are still necessary?
§ Mr: Hamilton
I have to tell the hon. Gentleman that I spent the whole of yesterday afternoon in Bristol, at a 448 conference to which we had invited all the local authorities and trading standards departments in the south-west. It was the fourth such conference to be held in England during the past few months—the others were in Manchester, Newcastle and London. No one from local government has been excluded from the deregulation exercise. Local government has an important role to play in making constructive proposals of its own and we are inviting it to do so. Unlike that from Opposition Members, we have had a very constructive response.