§ Mr. David Shaw
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on the achievements of(a) his policies and (b) his Department in helping small businesses over the last 12 months as against the previous 12 months; and if he will publish the performance indicators by which his Department monitors those achievements and the statistical results of such monitoring.
§ Mr. Chris Patten
The Government have continued to place a high priority on helping small businesses, through improvements to the business climate, through deregulation and other measures, and through specific programmes of support and assistance. While separate information on small businesses is not available in my Department, the major deregulation initiatives affecting all businesses were set out in the White Paper "Releasing Enterprise" (Cm 512). These included simplification and clarification of the building regulations to limit requirements to those essential for securing the health and safety of people and for the protection of the environment; and to introduce a greater degree of flexibility.
I have also proposed a series of changes to the planning system designed to simplify procedures. In particular, specific relaxations of permitted development rights for commercial and other uses under the general development order are currently the subject of consultation. The Government have also asked that local authorities deal promptly and positively with planning proposals from small businesses.
Proposals to establish the system of integrated pollution control were also set out in the White Paper: this will be less administratively burdensome to industry than the arrangements it replaces. IPC will be given statutory force by the Environmental Protection Bill.