I am delighted to say that we are the first Government in modern history to reduce the overall burden of domestic regulation on business. Our one-in, two-out approach has cut the annual cost of regulation for businesses by £1.5 billion so far, and the red tape challenge has identified more than 3,000 regulations that we are planning to scrap or improve.
One of the Government’s most encouraging steps has been to speed up payments by Government to suppliers that are small and medium-sized enterprises, but the Federation of Small Businesses and others estimate that the problem of late payment by businesses to businesses has increased significantly. Will my hon. Friend therefore work with business groups, such as the CBI, to encourage all their members to settle within 30 days, and will he consider establishing a kitemark for businesses that live up to that?
I agree with my hon. Friend. We really need much greater openness about the payment practices of businesses. Knowing who are good payers and bad payers is essential in deciding with whom to trade. We will therefore bring forward legislation to require large and listed companies to publish their payment practices and performance. We will also work with business groups to strengthen the prompt payment code.
There have been a number of attempts to amend the Deregulation Bill to reform retransmission fees for public sector broadcasters in the UK. Will the Minister look at the report published on Monday, which argues that reform could provide millions of pounds for the creative industries in the United Kingdom? Does he agree that the reform of retransmission fees should be included in the Deregulation Bill?
The hon. Gentleman is referring to ITV’s report, which calls for ITV to be allowed to charge fees to other platforms. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will have read the brilliant speech given by the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport at the Royal Television Society earlier this week, when he said—I can almost quote it from memory, it was that good—that he will take a “long, hard look” at retransmission fees.
Given that many of the regulations that affect business emanate from the European Union, will the Minister meet the new EU commissioner for the internal market, industry, entrepreneurship and SMEs, Elzbieta Bienkowska, in the near future to urge her to introduce and adopt the UK Government’s one-in, two-out rule?
We have a new set of Commissioners, so may I put on the record my gratitude to Neelie Kroes, who was the Commissioner I worked with most closely under the previous Commission, but who has now retired? I always enjoy meeting European Commissioners, and I also enjoy the fact that so much of the innovation that this Government come up with is now being copied by our European partners.