Select Committee on Trade and Industry Annxes to the Report

Follow-up Questions


In view of assurances that the Committee's detailed recommendations on the role of the Chief Executive of the SBS would be taken into account, it would be helpful to have a response to each of the four points raised in recommendation (u)

  The Small Business Service (SBS) has been working closely with all Government Departments to ensure that the Chief Executive must be consulted at the earliest stages of the policy making process if Government legislation is likely to impact on small firms. The SBS has also worked alongside the Cabinet Office to enshrine the "think small first" principle throughout the new Cabinet Office guide "Good Policy Making: A Guide to Regulatory Impact Assessment". The guide reminds departments to consider the implications specifically for small businesses at the earliest stages. It puts the SBS at the heart of policy making. The Chief Executive has attended all the meetings held by the Panel for Regulatory Accountability, and is working to ensure quality and timely consultation, alternatives to regulation when appropriate, sensible regulatory timetables, appropriate enforcement and easy to follow and timely guidance for small businesses. The Regulatory Impact Assessment must record whether or not the SBS has been consulted and also has the right to have its views recorded in the RIA.


The committee has asked for a progress report on the development of a Comprehensive Business Directory and the prospects for the compulsory regulation systems referred to

  The principle of a Comprehensive Business Directory that draws on administrative sources in various Government Agencies is accepted. The inter-departmental project is currently researching the necessary legal framework for such a facility and in tandem developing prototype models to determine the most effective implementation. The legal research is essential to ensure that developments would not infringe upon government confidentiality and basic human rights. The project team is working closely with other related projects within government, including the Office of the E-envoy and PIU, to ensure consistency and mutual benefits are gained. Results are targeted for March 2001 and further developments can be expected to be provided as part of the Government Secure Intranet knowledge service.

  Government announced in April its decision to remove the statutory audit requirement for all companies with a turnover up to £4.8 million—the maximum level allowed. This reform will save business up to £180 million a year and will be achieved in two stages. First raising the threshold to £1 million and then, after considering the recommendations of the Company Law Review on what, if any, new statutory requirement should be put in place, to £4.8 million.

Business, Enterprise and the Budget, Seventh Report of 1999-2000, HC 51: Government Response Seventh Special Report HC 514

  1.  The Committee decided to follow up the November 1999 Pre-Budget Statement with evidence on a number of matters arisings therein, on which it heard oral evidence in December 1999, and January and February 2000, and reported in March 2000. The Report covered five special fiscal proposals of particular concern to industry; the latest proposals on the Climate Change Levy on which the Committee had reported in July 1999; the proposed Phoenix fund to encourage entrepreneurship in disadvantaged areas; and the general issue of the low level of institutional investment in high tech firms.

  2.  The Government reply was received in May 2000, and was generally positive. Some of the conclusions have now been given effect in the Pre-Budget plans announced in November 2000. The Chancellor's appointment announced in the 2000 Budget of Mr Myners to look into factors discouraging institutional investors from investing in SME may have owed something to the interest shown by the Committee.

  3.  The Committee continues to pursue many of the issues raised through, for example, written questions on the recent Pre-Budget Statement.

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2001
Prepared 18 January 2001