First meeting for red tape committee

A new Cabinet committee, tasked with the job of reducing the heavy burden of red tape on business, has convened its first meeting.

The Reducing Regulation Committee began its major review of all regulations in the pipeline inherited from the last government.

The committee will ensure that there is a robust case for any new regulations and will guarantee that all other options have been considered before more regulations are introduced.

It also has the power to send burdensome red tape back to government departments.

In a new approach to business regulation, all regulatory proposals are to be 'stress-tested' to make sure that only those of suitably high quality and suitably high priority go forward.

Under the 'one-in, one-out' management system, any new regulatory cost is to be compensated by cuts to the cost of old laws, and the cut in regulatory cost must be greater than the cost of the new regulation.

Business Secretary, Vince Cable, who chairs the committee, said: "We need to change the balance of power away from the state and back to individuals, businesses and communities.

"For too long, there has been a misplaced notion that government's job is to regulate. That is not the case. Regulation should be the last resort.

"This committee will help change the culture of government and find new ways of solving problems, reducing the red tape that is strangling enterprise.

"We need businesses to drive the growth our economy needs, not be tied up with form filling, and the government is determined to do all it can to make that happen."

The government has also launched what it calls the 'Your Freedom' campaign. Forming part of the campaign is a website which aims to give businesses the chance to identify those regulations that should be removed in order to make running an enterprise easier.

Mike Cherry, policy chairman of Federation of Small Businesses, said: "Giving business owners the chance to shape the regulation and legislation which directly affects them is a welcome move by the government.

"Small businesses want to grow but are stifled by red tape and excessive legislation. We have seen similar initiatives from previous administrations and we hope that the government puts the needs of the 4.8 million small businesses in the UK first."

The Your Freedom website can be found at http://yourfreedom.hmg.gov.uk/