HC Deb 04 March 2002 vol 381 cc77-8W
Mrs. Ann Winterton

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on her Department's policy on deregulation in the agriculture industry; and if she will list the regulations removed since May 1997. [33375]

Mr. Morley

The Department implements the Government's policy on better regulation. This is regulating only when necessary, doing so in a light touch way, consistent with policy objectives, and reducing regulatory burdens where possible.

Regulatory reform can included changes to primary and secondary legislation and administrative procedures. The process was started through implementation of the recommendations of the 1999 Red Tape Reviews and the Better Regulation Task Force's Review of Environmental Regulations and Farmers. This has led to the streamlining of processes and procedures for example by implementing a simplified procedure for granting "own-use" approvals for imports of pesticides with a reduced fee, by streamlining intervention procedures, and by better co-ordinated cattle inspections. The Government's Regulatory Reform Action Plan announced on 4 February contains further proposals for reform by the Department.

The Department does not hold a comprehensive list of deregulatory changes made since 1997. However, in the last two months the Department has achieved the removal of complex rules applying to sheep produced groups and their replacement by simpler general rules as part of the changes to the CAP sheep regime agreed at the December 2001 Agriculture Council, and the removal of a requirement in Commission regulations on arable crops for testing of farm-saved rapeseed for glucosinolate content, estimated to result in savings to farmers of about £1 million. The Regulatory Reform Action Plan provides a basis for recording all such changes systematically from now on.