HC Deb 06 November 1995 vol 265 cc593-4
32. Mr. Simon Coombs

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster how many section 1 orders under the Deregulation and Contracting Out Act 1994 have been laid, and how many are expected to be laid in the next Session of Parliament. [39717]

Mr. Freeman

The Government have laid 13 orders to date, including, for example, measures to assist building societies. Subject to the need not to overload Committees, the Government intend to lay one new order each week while Parliament is sitting and bring measures that help the competitiveness of the United Kingdom economy, especially for smaller enterprises.

Mr. Coombs

May I express some surprise at the novel idea that Committees should not be overloaded? It is a new one on me. Can we not find a way to speed up the rate at which orders are introduced, because they are in the best interests not only of the Government but of people and industry as a whole? What specific orders does my hon. Friend hope to introduce in the next few months?

Mr. Freeman

I pay tribute to my hon. Friend the Member for Isle of Wight (Mr. Field), who chairs the House of Commons Deregulation Committee, which has begun on an excellent footing. I also pay tribute to the Deregulated Powers Scrutiny Committee in the other place, which partly looks after the deregulation orders that we lay. I would encourage trade associations and individual companies, especially small and medium-sized enterprises, to come forward rapidly so that we can consider proposals by them, which might frame orders that we can lay before Parliament to help employment, help lift red tape and bureaucracy from the shoulders of business and industry and therefore increase the competitiveness of the UK economy.

33. Mr. Pike

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what steps he proposes to take to improve consultation in connection with deregulation proposals. [39718]

The Parliamentary Secretary, Office of Public Service (Mr. John Horam)

Consultation takes place on all proposals for deregulation orders. We pay very careful attention to the comments of the Deregulation Committee and the House of Lords Delegated Powers Scrutiny Committee as regards the adequacy of consultation in particular cases.

Mr. Pike

s: The Parliamentary Secretary will recognise that, certainly in one case, there has been a lack of consultation in terms of both time and the range of people consulted. Will he ensure that, in future, so that the Deregulation Committee does not waste time and those matters can be dealt with properly, every Department carries out adequate consultation in respect of both time and the range of those consulted?

Mr. Horam

I think that the hon. Gentleman refers to the Deregulation (Sunday Dancing) Order, on which his Committee pronounced today. I believe that the report came out today. We pay great attention to what the Committee and the House of Lords Delegated Powers Scrutiny Committee say. The Deregulation (Sunday Dancing) Order is a matter for my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary,. but I take the point that all Cabinet Ministers and others who present regulation orders should take account of the length of consultation, and I shall ensure that that is done.

34. Mr. John Marshall

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what initiatives he has to formulate further deregulation. [39719]

Mr. Freeman

With the help of the deregulation task force, we continue to identify changes to existing rules and regulations to reduce the burdens that they impose, without removing necessary protections. We want business and industry to identify regulations which they believe need to be simplified or repealed.

Mr. Marshall

Does my right hon. Friend accept that, when the rest of the industry competes with the national lottery, it is handicapped by over-regulation? May we have an assurance that it will be allowed to compete on equal terms?

Mr. Freeman

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for referring to the lottery, which has been an enormous success, and raised well over £1 billion for good causes. As for betting regulations, in April 1995, we relaxed the restrictions on facilities in betting shops. We are now planning to bring forward a deregulation order to allow amusement with prizes machines in betting shops. I hope that that will be welcomed by the industry.

Mr. Flynn

In considering further deregulation, has the Minister read the report of the Transport Select Committee on what have become known as roll-on, roll-over ferries? Is he not concerned at the unanimous view of the Committee that that form of public transport is the only one that does not fail safe, but fails dangerously and lethally? Is it not the case that those ferries do not require to be subject to deregulation but need new regulation to ensure public safety?

Mr. Freeman

The hon. Gentleman will not expect me to comment specifically on ferries, but I agree with him that there are many cases where we need better regulation for the protection of the consumer, the passenger or whoever. I am addressing regulation that is unnecessary, and perhaps outmoded. By lifting that burden from business and industry, we can increase competitiveness.

I will certainly draw the question of the hon. Gentleman to the attention of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport.