HC Deb 20 July 2001 vol 372 cc597-8W
Mr. Baron

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what plans she has to reduce the level of regulation for small businesses. [6221]

Nigel Griffiths

The Government are committed to minimising the burden of regulation as one way to realise our ambition of making the UK the best place in the world to start and grow a business.

The Government also have a responsibility to ensure basic protection and rights to all of society.

However, this Government have taken some key steps to ensure that regulation is used sensibly and sensitively for the benefit of all.

In relation to reducing red tape, the Government have:

Established the Better Regulation Task Force—with members drawn from all sectors of community to advise the Government on action which improves the effectiveness and credibility of Government regulation.

Established the Ministerial Panel for Regulatory Accountability to provide strategic overview of the Government's regulatory plans and to discuss regulatory performance with Departmental Ministers.

Issued a revised "Guide to Regulatory Impact Assessments" so the costs and benefits of proposed regulations are properly analysed.

Launched a "Code of Practice on Written Consultation" in November 2000—ensuring that consultation periods will be at least 12 weeks. "Guidance on Implementation Periods" was released at the same time, requiring that guidance on new legislation be issued at least 12 weeks before the legislation comes into force.

Passed the Regulatory Reform Act that will make possible the reform of outdated, overlapping and over-burdensome legislation.

Established the Small Business Service with one of its aims to minimise regulatory burdens by working with small business and other Government agencies to ensure that small firms' interests are properly considered.

Future steps

The Government will build on the initiatives we took in the last Parliament to ensure we have "intelligent regulation".

We recently announced in "Enterprise for All" that Patrick Carter is examining payroll services for small firms—to make the system more effective and less costly.

The small business manifesto outlined a number of commitments designed to further minimise the burden on business.

The Operational Targets for the Small Business Service in 2001–02 include a target to "put in place a set of actions for reforming the regulatory environment for small business by March 2002".

These measures show our continuing commitment to reduce the burden of regulation.