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Marjorie Mowlam: Earlier in my speech, I gave the answer to that question. The costs that the hon. Gentleman quotes include the entitlements and benefits that individuals received through the changes that we introduced and the bureaucracy involved in implementing them. The real costs are a fraction of that figure. We shall not apologise for the costs of introducing the minimum wage, improving maternity leave, giving people holidays and working to ensure that discrimination against people with disabilities does not happen. I shall not apologise for any of it and if the costs of the policies themselves are set aside, our regulatory costs are much, much less.
In addition, we introduced the legislation after listening to the views of business, business groups and consumer groups, and changes were made. As a result, it was introduced in a way that did not cost jobs. Exemptions were made for smaller businesses and most businesses were happy to acknowledge that the legislation was valuable to their work force.
In addition, before introducing a proposal, Ministers must be confident that the benefits of removing a regulatory burden are sufficient to justify the order being made and that the order maintains any necessary protection and does not remove any rights or freedoms that people could reasonably expect to continue to enjoy.
When proposing to introduce burdens, a Minister must also be confident that the order strikes a fair balance between the public interest and the interests of the individuals affected by it and that any burden imposed by that order must be proportionate to the benefit to be had, to the satisfaction of the scrutiny Committees.
In addition to those safeguards and consultation requirements, the order will be subject to careful scrutiny in Committee in both Houses and will proceed only if both Committees report favourably. That procedure has worked successfully to date in relation to the 1994 Act and I trust and believe that it will continue to do so.
Mr. Pike: I chair the Deregulation Committee. Is my right hon. Friend surprised to hear that no Conservative Member chose to attend its pre-legislative scrutiny of the Bill? Is she also surprised to hear that Conservative Members no longer consider themselves to be members of the Committee? I wrote to the Conservative Chief Whip asking him to replace them, but even though the Conservative party considers deregulation important, that position has not changed.
Mr. Steen: I would like to make a comment. As a member of the Deregulation Committee, I can tell the House that only one deregulatory order has been made this year. Last year, only one was made. The hon. Member for Burnley (Mr. Pike) knows that he does nothing, and the Committee does nothing. The Bill is being debated to give them something more to do.
Marjorie Mowlam: With those safeguards in place, and for the Committees concerned, let me outline some of what we might wish to do under the Bill that is not possible under the 1994 Act. Situations often arise in which, with the passage of time, legislation has become outdated and no longer fits people's day-to-day needs. Anomalies develop and it simply no longer makes sense.
For example, invalid care allowance can be claimed only by people between the ages of 16 and 65. Why stop at 65? People often carry on caring beyond that age, so we want to change the law so that over-65s have a right to claim too. We also want to make changes so that in circumstances where the person being cared for dies, the allowance will continue to be paid for up to eight weeks to allow the carer time to come to terms with the loss.
As a final example, we would like to take important steps to relieve the burden on NHS charities, which currently have to submit their accounts twice to two separate Government bodies. That is not common sense; by making a simple change, we will help those charities to keep down significantly their administrative overheads and to make the most of donations given to them by the public.
Those are just a few examples of what can be done; there are many, many others. Today, we published a list of 50 measures that could be delivered, and I have placed copies in the Libraries of both Houses.
Marjorie Mowlam: Certainly. If the hon. Gentleman wants me to read them, I shall do so with pleasure. [Interruption.] I must have left the list in my office; what bad luck. [Interruption.] I have been passed a copy; I do not want to disappoint the hon. Gentleman if he wants to hear them.
For the hon. Gentleman's benefit the measures include: the abolition of 20 partner limit; after-hours child care at schools; approval of local education authority curriculum complaints procedures; attachment of earnings; births and deaths--Wales; births and deaths--errors on certificates; bootleggers--disclosure of names, for Customs and Excise; building regulations; business tenancies; civil registration service reform. I think that I have made my point.
In addition, we issued five consultation documents today that will make possible, under the Bill, benefits of almost £40 million. We are consulting on orders--I shall give specific examples for the hon. Gentleman--to simplify, speed up and make fairer the procedures for new business leases; to put lease renewals for local authority tenants on the same footing as those for business tenants; to make it easier to allow pubs to open for longer on new year's eve and on the Queen's golden jubilee; to improve the grant and loan arrangements for the renewal of private sector housing; and to allow people to use bank notes and smart cards in gaming machines.
Marjorie Mowlam: Some of the measures may not be crucial, as the hon. Gentleman implies, but what is important is that the legislation makes sense--that is one of the reasons that we are introducing the Bill. Regulation should not be burdensome; it should be easy to implement and should protect rights while not making heavy demands on businesses. That is what good government means. The Bill is not incredibly large, but it will improve the services we offer the public. That is important--it does not matter how small the changes are, as long as they benefit people.
As well as looking at where we can simplify or streamline regulations, we are also considering how to improve enforcement. Sensible enforcement--not going over the top--is a key part of good regulation. That is why the Government are working with local authorities and those responsible for enforcing central Government regulation to agree to a concordat--[Interruption.] This is an important point. The concordat will offer a blueprint for fair and common-sense enforcement.
We hope to have 100 per cent. of the bodies that we are working with signed up by the summer. It is a voluntary process, which we hope will succeed, but if there are cases where an improvement in enforcement practice is needed, the Bill contains a reserve power for Ministers to make codes of practice on enforcement for the benefit of business and the citizen.
As was done in another place, I trust that hon. Members will agree that the Bill will provide a valuable tool for this and future Governments to use in the fight against unnecessary, overlapping and over-complex legislation. It has already been welcomed by many people outside the House. For example, the Institute of Directors said that it is a