Task force hails progress on red tape

This was the message from the chairman of the Better Regulation Task Force, Lord Haskins, at the launch of the body’s 1999/2000 Annual Report.

‘Regulation remains a very controversial issue. Businesses, are constantly, and correctly, telling the task force about the costs and time needed to comply with regulations,’ said Lord Haskins.

‘At the same time, consumer, environmental and trade union groups are equally, and understandably, concerned about market failures and regulatory shortcomings.

‘I feel we are making progress and having an impact both inside and outside of government in seeking to strike a balance between these two strongly held positions. Ministers have been taking our recommendations seriously. They are listening to, and acting upon, our constant reminders that policy makers and those who enforce regulation must apply the basic principles of good regulation.

For the first time the report includes a review of how the government has responded to the task force’s key recommendations since its formation in 1997.

It highlighted three examples of the government’s positive response:

  • All government departments are now expected to apply the five ‘Principles of Good Regulation’ when drawing up new regulations;
  • The setting up of the Panel for Regulatory Accountability to monitor and intervene on cross-governmental department regulation issues, on which Lord Haskins sits with key members of the Cabinet; and
  • The creation of the Small Business Service to champion the interests of small businesses at the heart of government.

In particular, Lord Haskins said the government had made improvements to the Working Families Tax Credit and the Working Time Directive in response to issues raised by the task force.

The Better Regulation Task Force was formed in 1997 to help improve the effectiveness and credibility of government regulation. Its members include Baker Tilly’s Teresa Graham and New Labour favourite Lord Haskins who is chairman at Northern Foods.

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