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Regulatory Burden: Businesses

Volume 583: debated on Thursday 26 June 2014

We have significantly reduced the burden of regulation on business. The one-in, two-out rule has cut the annual cost of domestic regulation by £1.2 billion so far, and the red tape challenge has identified over 3,000 regulations to be scrapped or improved. To ensure that all future Governments remain committed to reducing burdens, the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill published yesterday requires Governments to publish a target for removing regulatory burdens in each Parliament and to report against it.

I thank my right hon. Friend for his excellent reply. Does he agree that for business and enterprise to flourish, particularly in constituencies such as mine that have many small and medium-sized enterprises, we must stop the strangling of business by regulation from the European Union, and that means that the Prime Minister is doing absolutely the right thing in trying to reform Europe so that business can flourish in this country?

I completely agree with my hon. Friend, and I can tell him that of the 30 specific reforms requested by the business taskforce I chaired last year, nine have already been delivered, two further directives were withdrawn last month, and since the transposition rules were tightened three years ago there has been only one example of a European directive being gold-plated, which was the consumer credit directive that banned excessive payment surcharges.

The Bathroom Manufacturers Association is just one trade body which feels that regulatory policy has too little focus on enforcement of regulation. That leads to the undercutting of compliant, high-quality British manufacturers by cheap, non-compliant foreign imports. When will the Government understand that a mature and consistent approach to enforcement of regulation is not a burden on high-quality British manufacturing business, but an aid to it?

I am happy to meet that trade association to follow up its specific concerns. The hon. Gentleman is right that business needs uniform and proportionate enforcement, and we are looking to deliver that through improved guidance with the relevant bodies, such as the Health and Safety Executive and the Environment Agency.