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Radical business deregulation plan unveiled

Senior Conservatives have unveiled radical plans to cut back on the red tape rules strangling British business - including downsizing the DTI to provide better value for money.

The shake-up was announced by the Shadow Secretary of State for Deregulation, John Redwood, and the Shadow Secretary of State for Industry, Stephen O'Brien, in a concerted drive to boost competitiveness amongst UK firms.

Warning that the Department for Trade and Industry issues more rules and regulations than any other department of state, the two Shadow Ministers promised that an incoming Conservative administration would restructure the department to drive forward deregulation and serve British business, rather than get in its way.

As part of a Conservative Value for Money Action Plan, the number of staff employed at the central department carrying out core objectives would be cut from over 4,000 to 850, while the core responsibilities of those remaining would be to champion business and business deregulation.

The plans include: transforming the DTI to champion business and deregulation by cutting the departmental headcount; by creating two core teams - one to deregulate, and one to minimise the effect of EU regulations; by ending the sham of Labour's "Regulatory Impact Assessments" (RIAs) by making sure it halts regulation far more often; by imposing Sunset Reviews on new business regulations wherever possible; by introducing a programme to repeal specific business regulations; and by seconding regulatory staff to business for a minimum of three months.

Mr O'Brien said: "Labour's so-called 'better regulation' has meant more regulation. Government policy and administrative creep have led to a deluge of over-regulation. Businesses large and small have made it clear that the DTI is moving in the wrong direction."

Mr Redwood signalled that the next Conservative government will abolish the new Statutory Dismissal Procedure that came into effect in October 2004, and declared: "I agree with the Federation of Small Business that these regulations are a 'minefield' for small firms. The regulations are so complicated that the DTI spent nearly a quarter of a million pounds reprinting its guide to them. Yet again, Labour's big government is failing to provide value for money."

Read the policy document outlining the plans (PDF format - requires Adobe Reader).

Redwood, John

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