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Mr. Bercow: May I encapsulate my hon. Friend's argument in a slightly different form? In reflecting on the merits of new clause 1 and the proposed review mechanisms, does he agree that Opposition Members are guided by the philosophy enunciated by our noble Friend Lord Lawson of Blaby--to wit, that the business of government is not the government of business?

Mr. Clifton-Brown: I agree entirely. One reason for the fall of the Roman empire is simply that it was shackled by bureaucracy. Had it had regulations such as those proposed in new clause 1, it would have had to review all its legislation and perhaps it would have continued a great deal longer.

Mr. White rose--

Mr. Clifton-Brown: I do not really want to go too far down that path. If the hon. Gentleman's remarks are relevant to the 21st century, I shall happily give way. If they pertain to the Roman empire, I will not. Which is it?

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Mr. White: I am curious. The hon. Gentleman is talking about new clause 1; it relates to the Bill, which deals with the removal and reduction of burdens. However, his argument relates to regulations in general. How will his proposals and those of his hon. Friends tackle regulations under the Bill, not the generality of regulations?

Mr. Clifton-Brown: If the hon. Gentleman will be patient and allow me to develop my argument, I shall come on to that precise area. I shall therefore answer his question in a little while.

We need to look at the culture of regulation, which stems from the increasing tendency to blame and litigate that emanates from America. We seem to need a regulation to try to cover every aspect of every conceivable thing that could go wrong, instead of leaving it to individuals to make sensible decisions--those individuals are hammered heavily when they transgress general and basic rules--which is a better way to go about our legislative process. I also commend the idea of self-regulation, which can work particularly well for businesses and does not always need the Government regulations that would be reviewed by new clause 1. There could be more self-regulation, for example, in relation to lifts and hoists regulations. That may seem obscure, but it would make businesses regulate themselves.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. I need to underline a point that has already been made to the hon. Gentleman in an intervention. New clause 1 relates specifically to clause 1 of the Bill, so it is not in order for him to go wider than that.

Mr. Clifton-Brown: Indeed not, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Briefly, if we did not have regulations in the first place, new clause 1 would not bite and we would not need to pass the Bill. Before moving on, may I cite, in half a sentence, the lifts and hoists regulations, which, by insurance, allow businesses to regulate themselves, so government does not need to interfere in regulations on maintaining lifts and hoists. I commend that principle to the House.

New clause 1 also bites on the proportionality of regulation, and tackles the issue of regulation going beyond what is necessary to deal with the problem. That is often the case because, rightly, we have a culture of honesty in this country and tend to gild the lily when introducing European and domestic legislation. If, as I said, we left it to individuals to make up their own minds, we would get on a great deal better.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Gentleman again, but I have already ruled on the matter to which he is now alluding. I must remind him to look at the Bill and remember that new clause 1 relates to clause 1 of the Bill and nothing else.

Mr. Clifton-Brown: I am grateful, Mr. Deputy Speaker. However, clause 1 refers to order-making powers and new clause 1 refers to the need to review those powers. A major proportion of those orders come from Europe, so it is difficult to have a debate on reviewing orders if we cannot discuss the mechanisms of the origins of those orders.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. I shall try to offer the hon. Gentleman guidance. The powers that are being

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sought in the Bill are ostensibly to reduce regulations. New clause 1 is directed at a qualification or limitation of that. That is all that the hon. Gentleman may allude to.

Mr. Lansley: On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. May I ask for further clarification to help my hon. Friends and me? Regulatory reform orders are designed to reform legislation, including reimposing or creating new burdens in circumstances in which Ministers believe that that strikes a fair balance between the public interest and other benefits. Opposition Members believe that new clause 1 would require review of regulations in circumstances in which additional burdens are created.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. I was merely trying to advise the hon. Member for Cotswold (Mr. Clifton-Brown) that he has to tie his remarks on the new clause to the clause in the Bill to which it refers. That is the sole point that I am trying to establish. It seems that he--and, on one or two occasions, other hon. Members--have tried to make a more general point than is allowed.

Mr. Steen: Further to the point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. As I understand it, clause 1 is not about reducing regulations, as was said by the Chair, but about increasing them. Strangely enough, although the Bill is supposed to reduce the number of laws in this country, it will have exactly the opposite effect.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. That is not a point of order for the Chair, but a matter of debate. The House can go only by what is said in the text of the Bill, to which I was referring. Of course, the new clause also relates to that text. That is what the debate should be about.

Mr. Clifton-Brown: I am a little clearer, but I am not totally clear. Clause 1 states:

The new clause states:

As a lot of directives and regulations from Europe are, to my mind, covered by clause 1 and new clause 1, it is difficult to discuss the amendment without discussing the vast bulk of our order-making powers, more than half of which come from the European Union. If one cannot discuss the mechanisms by which they come from the EU, it is very difficult to have any debate at all about new clause 1.

Mr. Fabricant: Does my hon. Friend agree that the hon. Member for Eccles (Mr. Stewart) presented a compelling argument by saying that it was important to consider both the content of regulations under new clause 1 and the way in which they are implemented in the United Kingdom compared, by inference, with other countries?

Mr. Clifton-Brown: I am grateful to my hon. Friend, who made that cogent and powerful point in his speech. It is a secondary point. The first point is how the regulation is framed, whether it be from the domestic Parliament or from Europe and whether it is

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all-encompassing or not. I would prefer regulations to be more general and, when individuals transgress them inadvertently or stupidly, the power of the courts, including the European courts, should be brought down on their heads. Regulations are implemented by the French, Germans and other European countries in a more general way. We tend to implement them in a more specific way.

The second point is that if regulations are framed in such a way as to be specific, and we enforce them to the letter, we are doubly gilding the lily, in respect of both domestic and European legislation. My hon. Friend the Member for Lichfield (Mr. Fabricant) is right.

4 pm

Mr. Steen: My hon. Friend makes an interesting point. If we are speaking about reviewing sunset clauses, which is the purpose of the new clause, how does my hon. Friend believe that we will accomplish that, bearing in mind the fact that more than 50 per cent. of regulations come from Europe? Can we do what we want to do under the new clause if 50 per cent. of the rules and regulations are outside our powers?

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. I must try to redefine the debate. The terms of new clause 1 relate to regulations that might be created under clause 1 of the Bill, not to the generality of regulations that may exist. I am anxious that the hon. Member for Cotswold (Mr. Clifton-Brown) and other hon. Members should confine their remarks to that.

Mr. Bercow: On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I seek further clarification, as this is the kernel of our debate this afternoon. May I take it that although it would not be legitimate to dilate upon them, it is in order to animadvert to past directives and regulations which are on the statute book and which affect people in businesses in this country, as justification in the development of the argument for the review mechanism that we commend to the House in new clause 1?

Mr. Deputy Speaker: To animadvert is possible, and in the course of two or more hours, the occasional animadversion might be permissible, but excessive animadversion would be out of order. I hope that that is clear.

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