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Volume 264: debated on Monday 23 October 1995

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To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many new studies have been initiated in response to the deregulation task force report; what is the name of these studies and their estimated cost; and when they are expected to report their findings. [37759]

The Government accepted the task force's suggestion for a feasibility study into the practicalities of setting up a single information point to provide start-up businesses with details of all relevant licensing and regulatory requirements. An initial study—looking at the regulatory requirements on vehicle component manufacturers, corner shops, small hoteliers and builders—started in August and is due to be completed by the end of the year. It will cost about £160,000.The Government also agreed to undertake an independent study into how the total burden of Government surveys might be reduced by up to 25 per cent., and to initiate a study to see how the burden of administrative forms might be reduced. Terms of reference for these studies, including estimated costs and completion dates, have yet to be finalised.In addition to these studies, all Government Departments have been asked to review the need for existing business licences and to identify suitable areas for merging or aligning different enforcement regimes.

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many deregulation units have been set up in different Whitehall Departments. [37757]

Each regulatory department has its own deregulation unit consisting typically of two or three staff whose work on deregulation is usually only part of their duties. There are 20 such units in total.

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many people work for the deregulation unit; and how many are needed to service the deregulation task force. [37772]

The current staff total of the central deregulation unit is 41.6 staff years, including three staff who provide secretariat support to the deregulation task force.

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will list the 250 business licences which are to be reviewed as part of the Government's new deregulation initiative, and the date each licence was originally introduced. [37758]

My Department is currently compiling a full list of the licences which apply to business, which will be placed in the House of Commons Library, once complete.The review is intended to examine all licences which apply to business, regardless of when they were introduced and by whom, with a view to abolition or, if there are strong arguments for retaining the licence, with a view to reducing the burden on industry. This reduced burden could be attained, for example, by simplifying the structure of the licence, continuous licensing, merging of different licences, offering greater scope for exemptions or narrowing the grounds for refusal.