HC Deb 13 February 2004 vol 418 cc55-6W
Mr. Hoyle

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many regulations on business have been lifted since 2000; and if she will make a statement on future lifting of regulatory burdens on businesses. [153141]

Nigel Griffiths

The figures for number of regulations lifted are not held centrally.

The Regulatory Reform Action Plan includes deregulatory measures and simplification of exiting compliance requirements. The original RRAP was published in February 2002 and contained 250 reforms, the update in December 2003 contained over 600.

Mr. Stephen O'Brien

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry which regulatory impact assessments have been put forward by the Better Regulation Task Force for the National Audit Office to review; and what subsequent action has been taken in each instance. [153552]

Mr. Alexander

I have been asked to reply.

The National Audit Office (NAO) has published the Regulatory Impact Assessments in its pilot year sample on its website at the following address: www.nao.gov.uk/publications/workinprogress/rias.htm

The NAO will shortly be publishing a Compendium Report on its findings.

Mr. Pollard

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment she has made of trends in the amount of time businesses spend on dealing with regulation; and if she will make a statement. [153774]

Nigel Griffiths

[holding answer 9 February 2004]: The World Bank's "Doing business in 2004" survey of 130 countries ranked the UK in top 10 countries with least regulations, and the New Year survey of EU Business leaders by Handelsblatt ranked the UK No. 1 for competitiveness. The OECD has found the UK has almost the lowest administration cost and fewer regulations for entrepreneurs than any other EU country, while tax burdens on small businesses are lowest in the UK. A NatWest Survey of 851 UK companies showed a welcome fall in their concerns about red tape. Government policies which have contributed to this include; the following: the abolition of automatic fines for late VAT payment for 200,000 SMEs. In 1996–97 fines totalled £99 million; cutting form-filling and red tape for up to 700,000 SMEs with the flat rate VAT scheme; raising the statutory audit requirement to £5.6 million turnover to save 219,000 small businesses up to £274 million a year.

The Government continue to work to reduce the burdens on business.