HC Deb 19 December 1986 vol 107 cc818-20W
Mr. Alan Howarth

asked the Paymaster General how many compliance cost assessments have been submitted by other Government Departments to his Department.

Mr. Kenneth Clarke

[pursuant to the reply, 2 December 1986, c. 576]: As of 20 November the total number of compliance cost assessments received for scrutiny by the enterprise and deregulation unit is 142; this includes assessments prepared by the Department of Employment.

Mr. Alan Howarth

asked the Paymaster General if it is his intention to publish the compliance cost assessments submitted by other Government Departments to his Department; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Kenneth Clarke

[pursuant to the reply, 2 December 1986, c. 576]: The decision to publish a compliance cost assessment on a proposed regulation rests with the Minister responsible for that particular regulation. I have therefore consulted my colleagues about the principle.

In accordance with the Government's policy on the publication of information, future assessments will he made available subject to the need in particular cases to preserve the confidentiality necessary to the effective working of Government. They will be obtainable from individual Departments and will be included in public consultation documents, wherever possible. The enterprise and deregulation unit in my Department will monitor the overall position and be responsible for general inquiries for information.

Mr. Alan Howarth

asked the Paymaster General if he will state the terms of reference and composition of the enterprise and deregulation unit of his Department.

Mr. Kenneth Clarke

[pursuant to the reply, 2 December 1986, c. 576]: The enterprise and deregulation unit has a total of 23 staff (including secretarial and clerical support) made up of civil servants seconded from seven Government Departments anbd two accountants seconded from the private sector. The terms of reference of the unit were set out in annex 3 to the White Paper "Building Businesses … Not Barriers" (Cmnd. 9794) and are as follows:

The Enterprise and Deregulation Unit

The EDU comprises officials seconded from a variety of Departments. It will include a few staff from the private sector, whose experience of industrial and commercial management practices will provide help in assessing the level of burdens placed on business. The EDU will also be assisted by an advisory panel of individual business men. The director of the EDU reports to the Secretary of State for Employment and the Paymaster General.

The functions of the EDU will be:

  1. (i) to provide Ministers with an overall picture of Government regulatory activity and its impact on business. The EDU will report on the progress of 819 deregulation annually, to the Secretary of State for Employment and through him to the Prime Minister;
  2. (ii) to "audit" Departments' systems of compliance cost assessment;
  3. (iii) to provide Departments with expert help and guidance on the preparation of compliance cost assessments and on the establishment of systems to monitor the effect of regulation; to act as a central point for disseminating information on techniques involved in assessing the effect of regulations on business;
  4. (iv) to examine the compliance cost assessment prepared by Departments. Initially, the EDU will examine all assessments. Once the system of periodic reports is established, then the EDU will use the reports to monitor progress and to pick out proposals in the pipeline for special attention. In practice, the EDU will work "by exception", looking at all the brief assessments but requiring full CCA's to be sent only in a minority of cases (eg those which it judges may raise particular difficulties for business). Assessments will, however, still need to be prepared, and should—unless otherwise agreed—continue to be submitted to DTI, where appropriate, and the relevant sponsor Departments. Where proposals in the pipeline are singled out for special attention, then the EDU will itself by involved in preparation of the compliance cost assessment from the start. In cases where there is disagreement at official level about the impact on business and desirability of a proposed regulation, then the issue will be referred to the Secretary of State for Employment and the other Ministers concerned, for resolution;
  5. (v) to agree targets or objectives for each Department, subject to ministerial agreement;
  6. (vi) to provide the main United Kingdom input into the European deregulation initiative (in consultation with FCO, DTI and the European secretariat in the Cabinet Office) and to act as a source of information on deregulatory work in other countries;
  7. (vii) to undertake in conjunction with Departments, occasional reviews of particular areas of regulation which cut across Departmental responsibilities (eg licensing requirements).

Working Relationships

DTI will retain prime responsibility for representing the interests of business overall within Government. The EDU will liaise with DTI and will look to it for information and

Farm and countryside initiative projects approved as at 4 December 1986
Description Location Number of people employed
Produce literature, improve woodlands and conversion of a barn Warren Farm, Horton-cum-Studley, Oxfordshire 13
Provide car park facilities, amenity planting. Clear and mark public rights of way Lockinge Estate, Ardington, Wantage, Oxfordshire 11
Creation of farm conservation centre at University Farm Wytham, Oxfordshire 5

advice. It will also work closely with other sponsor Departments.

The EDU will work with the management and efficiency division in MPO on such aspects of deregulation as improved forms and the use of plain English; and with the central unit on purchasing on such aspects of deregulation which impact on the ability of firms to obtain Government business. It should also work with the training division in the Management and Personnel Office and the Civil Service College (to ensure that the appropriate messages about deregulation are taken on board by officials with responsibility for regulations). Close links with the efficiency unit and the Prime Minister's policy unit will be maintained.