Better Regulation

Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform written statement – made at on 2 April 2009.

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Photo of Pat McFadden Pat McFadden Minister of State (Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform) (Employment Relations and Postal Affairs), Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee

My noble Friend the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform has made the following statement.

The Government have a wide-ranging regulatory reform programme which we began in 2005. Today the Government are setting out next steps to ensure future better regulation.

Given the economic situation, it is important that Government focus on delivering real help for business now. Following the consultation launched last year, the Government have therefore decided not to implement a system of regulatory budgets at this stage. Rather we will undertake a programme of better regulation measures tailored to the present exceptional economic circumstances.

There is clearly a need for new regulation in some areas now—such as climate change, and financial services in response to the current banking crisis. Moreover, delaying measures which businesses have already planned for can be disruptive. But during the recession and recovery we have a particular reason to look very carefully at whether we should delay planned new regulation and avoid introducing new regulation which increases burdens on business except where there is a clear case for action now. For example, the Government have already delayed implementation of legislation on display of tobacco in small shops until 2013, to help this particular retail sector.

To provide greater rigour to this process of review during the present economic downturn and with a view to economic recovery my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has decided to establish a new better regulation sub committee of the National Economic Council. The new Committee will take on the responsibilities of the panel for regulatory accountability. This Committee will scrutinise planned regulation and proposals for new regulation that will impact on business. The new Committee will take account of the views of business in coming to its conclusions.

The Government will also be working closely with EU partners to further embed the EU better regulation agenda and to ensure the current pressures on business are taken into account when new European regulation is being considered.

From this summer, the Government will also publish a forward regulatory programme. Business will be able to plan better as the programme will include existing and possible future regulatory proposals.

In 2005, we announced that we would cut the administrative burdens of regulation by 25 per cent by May 2010—i.e. £3.4 billion. We have already delivered £1.9 billion and are on track to deliver on our promise. Looking forward, the Government will adopt new simplification targets for 2010-15 which will address all regulatory costs on business.

The Government will also set up a new external Regulatory Policy Committee whose role will be to advise Government on whether they are doing all they can to accurately assess the costs and benefits of regulation. Building on the work of Philip Hampton, this body will also advise Government on whether regulators are appropriately risk based in their work; however, it will not have the power to require changes in the behaviour of independent regulators.