HC Deb 23 November 1995 vol 267 c790
11. Dr. Twinn

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what priority he gives to deregulation; and if he will make a statement. [700]

Mr. Waldegrave

We give a very high priority to deregulation, particularly in order to relieve burdens on small business.

Dr. Twinn

I thank my right hon. Friend for his support for deregulation. Does he agree that that process is only just starting, and that we need more and more deregulation, and fewer and fewer regulations? Does he share my surprise that the Leader of the Opposition can be so woefully ignorant about the workings of the European Union that he can think that the social chapter can be implemented on a pick and choose basis, and that Britain would not be shafted with many more regulations if he signs up to that?

Mr. Waldegrave

It is exactly because of the regulatory effect on business, particularly small businesses, that we opposed the social chapter. It was surprising that the Leader of the Opposition, in his speech to the CBI, did not appear to know that the principal measures under the social chapter are taken by qualified majority voting.

Mr. MacShane

If the Minister is in favour of deregulation, why have he and his colleagues introduced 21 new taxes since 1992, and why, next week, when the Finance Bill is before the House, will it amount to between 450 and 500 pages of the most convoluted tax system bearing down on small businesses and middle and low wage earners?

Mr. Waldegrave

The Government intend to return to a low-tax economy when it is safe for us to do so. As for the burden on small businesses, the Department of Trade and Industry has been in the lead in that regard. For example, as well as introducing many other measures, it has exempted very small businesses from the audit procedure. The hon. Gentleman is, however, right to suggest that there is always more to do.