Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill
David Ruffley (Bury St Edmunds, Conservative)
No, I want to make some progress.
Part 5 deals with legislative burdens more generally. Clause 49 proposes an increase in Ministers’ power to introduce sunset provisions, and I welcome that. We may be one of the first countries to use sunset clauses as a matter of course in all regulatory policy. Some states, such as Germany, use them sporadically, but no EU states use them systematically, and not even the United States uses them across the board. Our Government are leading the way in reducing regulatory levels by providing for their use in all legislation, as far as possible, throughout Whitehall.
Finally, let me say something about one in, one out. There has been some early modest success in that regard, but I should be grateful if Ministers would consider a proposal which the last Government toyed with, but did not proceed with, in 2008. I refer to regulatory budgets, which would set a figure for the value and cost of regulations in any particular Department. That proposal was not included in the 2008 Labour consultation, but many of us have been considering ways in which, if a budget went bust because too many regulations were being imposed on business, the Department would be subject to the sanction of reductions in its public expenditure settlement with the Treasury. That would certainly hold Ministers’ and senior civil servants’ feet to the fire. Perhaps the Minister will tell us whether the Government will consider it.