§ Mr. Grylls
To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if he will give details of the progress made by his Department in implementing the policy of deregulation over the last 12 months.
§ Mr. Cope
The Department of Employment group has continued in the last 12 months to review existing regulations and seek new opportunities for deregulation, including further reductions in burdens on small firms. The progress report on deregulation, "Encouraging Enterprise", which the then Secretary of State for Employment made to Parliament in May 1987, described action being taken on a number of proposals for reducing the burden of employment protection and health and safety legislation on employers, while maintaining necessary protections. Since then the Department has issued a consultative document on the restrictions on the employment of young people and the removal of sex 161W discrimination in legislation. The Health and Safety Commission has issued a consultative document with proposals to replace the existing requirements to post up abstracts of the Factories Act and Office, Shops and Railways Premises Act with a simpler and more effective requirement to provide information to employees by means of a poster or leaflet. Work has also continued on simplifying and speeding up administrative procedures which affect business and on improving means of communicating information and advice to employers about the DE group's services, programmes and responsibilities. Since "Encouraging Enterprise" we have, for example, speeded up the process of making decisions on loans to small firms under the loan guarantee scheme. The group has won two Plain English awards—one for DE's series of fact-sheets explaining employment law in clear and simple language; the other for ACAS's handbook for small firms, "Employing People". We have issued staff with guidelines on good buying practice and introduced training to help ensure that contacts with firms are dealt with efficiently.