HC Deb 07 July 1994 vol 246 c442
10. Mr. Steen

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what initiatives are being taken to reduce the number of rules and regulations affecting the workings of his Department; and how many officials he employs currently working on deregulation initiatives.

Mr. Charles Wardle

We have reviewed 32 of the 71 regulations affecting business for which the Home Office is responsible, and reviews of the other regulations are in progress or due to start shortly. The Department's deregulation unit involves three officials directly and many others are involved in taking forward deregulation initiatives.

Mr. Steen

Is the Minister aware that officials in his and other Departments are blocking an attempt by Conservative Members to institute some sort of local appeal mechanism, so that over-zealous interpretations of rules and regulations can be dealt with uniformly and so that local businesses are not continually crippled by such over-zealous interpretation and the additional unit costs that regulations put on them? Why do not we behave like the French and do nothing at all?

Mr. Wardle

My hon. Friend knows that I am aware of his concerns because he has written to me about them. He is also aware that discretion for the matters that concern him lies with the local licensing justices, who have made it clear to my hon. Friend and his constituents that what is proposed might come up against the Sunday Observance Act 1780. He will be aware that in the deregulation Bill we have taken the initiative on children's certificates. We have also made it clear that my right hon. and learned Friend is reviewing other aspects of the licensing system; no doubt my hon. Friend's concerns will then be given due consideration.

Mr. Chisholm

Is one of the rules and regulations that no findings of the Home Office research department should be published if they contradict the views of the Home Secretary? What does the Minister have against evidence and facts?

Mr. Wardle

The hon. Gentleman no doubt saw a letter in The Guardian from the head of the research department at the Home Office making it clear that that report was utterly without foundation. I had hoped that the hon. Gentleman was about to stand up and applaud the Government for their various deregulation initiatives: first, with the Sunday Trading Bill, secondly, with the deregulation Bill and thirdly, with the further progress being made within the Home Department on a number of deregulation fronts.