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Safeguards added to red tape law

A proposal to make it quicker and easier to tackle unnecessary or over-complicated regulation is being amended today in response to criticism that it gave ministers too much power and lacked adequate safeguards.04 May 2006

Cabinet Office Minister Jim Murphy MP today tabled amendments to clarify that the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill will only be used to deliver the Government's better regulation agenda.

In February, the Commons Regulatory Reform Committee warned that the bill as then drafted provided ministers with a wide and general power that could be used to repeal amend or replace almost any primary legislation.

The intention behind the law is popular, however: to deliver reductions in unnecessary red tape by reducing or removing burdens, specifically financial costs, administrative burdens, and obstacles to efficiency, productivity and profitability.

Today's amendments will protect the scrutiny role of Parliament by giving a statutory veto to the relevant committees in both the House of Commons and the House of Lords.

Cabinet Office Minister Jim Murphy said: "We have now reached a turning point in this debate. This is no longer about what the Government should do next – the Government has listened and acted. This is about whether critics of the Bill in Parliament are truly going to stand in the way of a measure that promises to bring benefits to hundreds of thousands of businesses, charities and individuals across the country."

He continued: "Today we have tabled amendments that put beyond doubt that this Bill will deliver our better regulation agenda and nothing else. The time has come for those who claim they want to tackle bureaucracy to stand up and be counted, and let the Government of the day get on with the crucial task of cutting unnecessary red tape."

Welcoming the Government's amendments, Deputy Director of the CBI John Cridland said: "It is imperative that we do not lose sight of the crucial benefits that this Bill promises to bring to UK business. The Bill is now focused explicitly on delivering better regulation, and the time has come to get on with the task of removing barriers to productivity and delivering the reductions to unnecessary red tape that business is crying out for."