HC Deb 26 July 1999 vol 336 c103W
Mr. Chidgey

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what reductions were achieved in the compliance costs of regulation administered by his Department and its public bodies for the last year for which data are available; what mechanisms exist for monitoring the post-implementation costs of such regulation; and if he has established targets for reduction in the compliance costs of regulation administered by his Department and its public bodies. [92314]

Mr. Byers

Details of regulations which impose compliance costs on business are published in the Department's regulatory impact assessments copies of which are placed in the Libraries of both Houses. A summary of all regulatory impact assessments published by the Department and the other regulatory Departments in Whitehall are published every six months by way of Command Paper, and are available on a monthly basis on the Cabinet Office Regulatory Impact Unit's website. Where appropriate, regulatory impact assessments also contain information on how a regulation will be monitored.

The Department published details on its regulatory activity in its Departmental Expenditure Plans Report (Cm. 4211). Recent examples of measures already taken or planned to reduce burdens on business include: the establishment of a new Small Business Service which will offer smaller firms practical assistance to help them meet their regulatory obligations. Consultation on its proposed role began on 30 June; consultation on proposals for a new service to help new small employers get to grips with running a payroll, to be operated through the Small Business Service; plans to consult on increasing the threshold below which companies need not have their accounts independently audited from its current level of £350,000; and proposals to amend the Working Time Regulations to give more flexibility and to reduce the detailed record-keeping for employers.

Although there is no arbitrary target for reducing the compliance costs of regulation we are committed to minimising the burden of regulation on business. In addition all Departments are required to make an assessment of the risks, costs and benefits of any regulatory proposal which has an impact on businesses, charities and voluntary bodies before they decide to act. Without an assessment of this kind there can be no collective agreement to a regulatory proposal.