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Lord Drayson of Kensington, Minister for Science and Innovation
Royal Society of Arts, London , 25 July 2007
Thank you, John – and may I add my thanks to everyone in the room, too, for joining us this morning.
I’m delighted to be unveiling – alongside John and Bill Callaghan from the Health and Safety Executive – this package of measures today.
My background is not in Government policy-making but in business. Like many of you, I have experienced the highs and lows of growing a business. Wrestling with decisions aimed at balacing the needs of the business with customers, employees, and investors. Ensuring, along the way, we were meeting the regulatory demands Government placed on our directors and our business.
I bring that experience to this role.
I take seriously both the opportunity and the responsibility to make doing business in the UK easier. Simpler. These are exciting times. For me. For you.
What excites me about the measures we are announcing today is the way they focus on things that really matter to business. Things that will ease the load. That will deliver meaningful improvements on the ground. Here’s what we are doing.
Firstly, we’re taking forward to simplify and improve some of our existing legislation. Targeted measures to help bring two of our largest regulatory frameworks up to date: health and safety, and consumer law.
On health and safety, I’m very pleased that Bill is with us today and I know he will say a few words on this in a moment.
But he’s allowed me to steal a little of his thunder right now, and announce that our Better Regulation team – with the Health & Safety Executive’s welcome and vital support – are embarking on a serious review to look at the ways low risk businesses – especially small and medium enterprises – deal with all of the different rules out there on health & safety legislation and regulation.
The team will come back to us in the Spring, and tell us what more we can do to deliver strong health and safety outcomes, while keeping burdens on business to minimum.
On consumer law, BERR will be leading an in-depth look at the current regime. We have a good consumer protection regime – one of the best. But we also have a duty of care to ensure it can withstand future challenges. Consumer law has developed over several decades. The regulations are complex. Over 100 different pieces of legislation, with upwards of £1bn in admin costs alone.
I have asked my team to look at ways to simplify existing legislation and further embed risk-based approaches to enforcement, while maintaining necessary protections. The review will pick up the work of the Better Regulation Executive and National Consumer Council project around use of information to empower consumers – the results of which are also being launched today.
Also within BERR, we are moving forward on two key areas:
The third and final area I want to talk to you about is holding Government and regulators to account. All of us in government need - and benefit from – external challenge. Only in this way will we improve the quality of existing and new regulations. The actions we are taking here in this area are:
We look forward to making it happen.