Blair backs red tape cuts at CBI conference

Tony Blair used a disrupted address to the CBI conference this morning to
throw his weight behind the chancellor’s commitment to cut red tape on business.

The prime minister’s speech was delayed for 48 minutes and moved to a
different hall after anti-nuclear protestors unfurled banners from the roof of
the main venue.

Addressing a standing audience on what he described as a ‘surreal’ occasion,
he said the UK had no choice but to deregulate. ‘The problem is relevant to the
markets in which we are going to have to compete in future,’ he said. ‘We are
not in shape.’

Blair promised a bill on regulation early in the new year which will allow
existing legislation to be amended to make it simpler and less burdensome.

He said that several government departments – including the DTI – were
working on delivering a 25% reduction in the administrative burden.

With the UK putting the issue of bureaucracy at the heart of its presidency
of the European Commission, Blair said that the momentum should not be lost when
it came to tackling red tape.

‘The new commission has a different attitude on this issue and we have to
capitalise on that,’ he said.

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