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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 4:30 pm on 15th May 2006.

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Photo of Oliver Heald Oliver Heald Shadow Secretary of State (Justice), Shadow Secretary of State 4:30 pm, 15th May 2006

Of course, my right hon. Friend has a proud record in this area. Let us not forget that it was the Conservatives who invented deregulation.

The Department for Trade and Industry has on its website a list of all the measures that are going to be taken on the two dates when regulations are laid. It amounts to about 40 pages of new regulations that are coming through. The Government spend a lot of time talking about the principle of one in, one out—for every new regulation, one will be scrapped—but does it ever happen? Does it heck. We see no list of regulations that are to be scrapped, just vague promises. It is time to change the culture in Whitehall to one that is about light regulation, deregulation and trying to take the burdens off the back of business.

New clause 19 may not be perfect, but it is a major step forward, and we certainly welcome that.

New clauses 1, 4 and 8 represent my attempt to focus the fast-track procedure solely on deregulation. The Government have gone far enough for me not to wish to press the new clauses. However, new clause 4 touches on a point made in amendment (b), tabled by my hon. Friend Mr. Chope. He was very active in Committee and was one of the original members of the deregulation taskforce, so he has strong credentials on deregulation. If he moves that amendment, I am likely to support him. My hon. Friend is seeking to establish that the net effect of an order made under new clause 19 should always be deregulatory. We believe that that is a sound principle, and that proposal is to be supported.

Amendment (a) to new clause 19 and amendment No. 74, tabled in the names of the hon. Members for Somerton and Frome (Mr. Heath) and for Cambridge (David Howarth), would require Ministers to be reasonable in their considerations under new clause 19 and clause 3 respectively. I look forward to hearing the arguments for those amendments, which I suspect are implied in their wording. I certainly would not rule out supporting that approach. There is always a possibility of judicial review if a Minister acts in a totally unreasonable way, but the amendments could add a lesser sanction to the provisions that would provide a useful way of concentrating minds.