HC Deb 01 November 2000 vol 355 cc700-1
6. Mr. Peter L. Pike (Burnley)

What action she has taken to improve the scope of deregulation since October 1999. [133642]

The Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office (Mr. Graham Stringer)

The answer to my hon. Friend is very similar to the answer that I gave to the hon. Member for South Cambridgeshire (Mr. Lansley). We published the Regulatory Reform Bill in April and we shall introduce it at the earliest possible opportunity.

Mr. Pike

Is it not a fact that the Government's consultation and pre-legislative scrutiny on this Bill have been exemplary and show a positive way forward for the Government's introduction of legislation? Given what the hon. Member for South Cambridgeshire (Mr. Lansley) said, is my hon. Friend the Minister surprised to learn that Conservative Members did not participate in the scrutiny of the Bill? They showed no interest whatsoever in deregulation.

Mr. Stringer

I thank my hon. Friend for that comment. I also want to thank him and the Deregulation Committee for the valuable contribution that they made during the consultation exercise. I am not at all surprised that Conservative Members did not participate in the consultation process. If they had done, they might have learned something about improving the quality of regulation. The shadow Chancellor and the Leader of the Opposition would then have used the same figures instead of figures differing by £5 billion when they talked about the regulatory burden on this country.

Mr. Ian Bruce (South Dorset)

Surely the Minister knows that his own Government introduced an Act to ensure that new regulations would cover the employment agencies industry. Does he accept that those regulations have appeared in several draft forms and that the industry is in turmoil wondering what the Government will do? That is not better regulation, but interference with an industry that did not need changing.

Mr. Stringer

Many Conservative Members want it both ways. They want full consultation on the process and they want decisions to be taken immediately. They cannot have it both ways. The Government are committed to improving both the quality of legislation and the quality of consultation.

Mr. Stephen Pound (Ealing, North)

Does my hon. Friend accept that there is such a thing as deregulation too far, and that the past few weeks have shown us that a bonfire of regulations may on occasion lead to a blazing furnace of diseased cattle?

Mr. Stringer

I thank my hon. Friend for that question. This Government are committed to protecting people as well as to improving the quality of regulation. That always depends on striking the right balance between protecting people and the benefits of any proposed legislation.