HC Deb 19 February 1996 vol 272 c5W
Mr. Steen

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what progress is being made towards(a) establishing lead inspectors and (b) merging different enforcement regimes as part of the Government's deregulation policy. [15589]

Mr. Freeman

The deregulation task force and the local government enforcement review recommended piloting the concept of the lead inspector approach and, where different regulatory and enforcement regimes overlap, recommended merger or alignment. The Government accepted these recommendations and we have made progress in implementation.

Under the joint working programme, Inland Revenue and the Contributions Agency announced plans for joint audits for some large employers, and single audit visits for all other employers, to cover both PAYE and national insurance contributions. Guidance was issued to Inland Revenue and Contributions Agency staff in December 1995 on single audit, and the new arrangements have now been implemented. Work is continuing to develop a programme of joint auditing for larger employers.

The lead inspector approach is existing practice in Her Majesty's inspectorate of pollution. This will become part of the Environment Agency, which comes into being on 1 April 1996, bringing together a number of regulatory regimes under one umbrella. The agency will be setting up first stop shops in its local offices.

As part of a wider review of regulation and inspection, the Department of Health is addressing the need for certain residential care and nursing homes to register with two public authorities. This review also puts forward for discussion alternative regulatory structures.

In the food hygiene area, statutory codes of practice have clarified demarcation lines to achieve single body enforcement.

In the case of community premises, we are promoting a single licensing process for a number of activities. Guidance encourages local authorities, wherever possible, to arrange for a combined inspection covering the entertainment application and any other inspections required by the premises, covering for example, food hygiene and health and safety.

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