HC Deb 20 May 2004 vol 421 cc1093-4
14. Mr. James Plaskitt (Warwick and Leamington) (Lab)

What representations she has received in respect of the inspection regime to oversee statutory management requirements. [174415]

The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Margaret Beckett)

Officials continue to work closely with stakeholders and enforcement bodies to evaluate the current inspection regimes. Stakeholders have been engaged throughout by involvement in bilateral meetings, workshops and the current public consultation on cross-compliance.

Mr. Plaskitt

I thank my right hon. Friend for that answer, but will she confirm whether the new regime, when it is introduced, will be made fully consistent with all the other inspection regimes that are already in place? Will there be full data sharing between them?

Margaret Beckett

My hon. Friend makes a very important point. That is exactly the kind of issue that we are discussing with stakeholders. We are conscious of the fact that, as he will appreciate, the statutory regimes are already the subject of current inspection, but we are anxious to simplify and streamline inspection processes as much as is practicable. We are certainly very mindful of the point that he makes about the need in the future for greater data sharing and greater efficiency. That is something that we are considering in general, with a view to all our regulation, but in particular, of course, in this new field.

Tony Baldry (Banbury) (Con)

What mechanisms exist in the Secretary of State's Department to ensure that that regime, or any other inspection regime or regulatory burden, does not weigh down harder on British business than similar regulatory regimes do in other EU member states?

Margaret Beckett

Quite simply, there are Commission requirements, and they are binding on every member state and apply in particular to that section of the cross-compliance regime. We believe that the changes that we are making will make ours a more efficient and effective regime than perhaps those in some of the other member states.