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New Clause 19 — Power to remove or reduce burdens

Part of Orders of the Day – in the House of Commons at 4:00 pm on 15th May 2006.

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Photo of Pat McFadden Pat McFadden Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office) 4:00 pm, 15th May 2006

I want to make some progress, if my hon. Friend will allow me.

The definition of burden relating to administrative inconvenience will allow the Government to deliver reductions in administrative burdens on business that are being identified through the comprehensive administrative burden reduction project taking place in government. The final results and Government targets to reduce administrative burdens will be published in departmental simplification plans in due course. Where appropriate, the order-making power will allow the Government to deliver real savings in time and money for businesses, charities and voluntary organisations by, for instance, reducing form-filling requirements and making it easier to comply with regulations. Those reductions in administrative burden will free up time and money so that businesses can improve productivity and promote innovation.

The definition of burden as "administrative inconvenience" will also allow the Government to amend rules that are now considered unnecessary but, because they are enshrined in statute, can still bind companies and impose an administrative inconvenience. For instance, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has committed to taking forward a proposal, submitted via the better regulation portal on the internet, to amend the rules on selling game. I am sure that many Conservative Members will take an interest in that.

Under the Game Act 1831, anyone wishing to sell game from a shop must apply for a licence from the council and affix to the front of the shop a board stating so. Repealing those requirements will save businesses hundreds of thousands of pounds and relieve the administrative burden on them. That is a small measure, but it is the kind of thing that could relieve those affected of a substantial burden. As the rules are enshrined in primary legislation, only a Bill could repeal them. The order-making power in new clause 19 will provide a more proportionate measure for repeal.

I emphasise again that we also want to reduce administrative inconvenience for our public services and voluntary organisations. Reducing administrative inconvenience will, for example, allow teachers, who often raise this with all of us as MPs, to spend more time with pupils, and allow the NHS to concentrate more of its time on caring for patients.

As I said earlier, independent surveys have often found that the UK ranks highly in international comparisons of competitiveness, but in the face of global change no country can afford to be complacent. As Mr. John Cridland, the deputy director-general of the CBI stated in The Times in March, the Government must be able to deliver more and swifter deregulatory measures to ensure that the UK remains competitive.