Select Committee on Deregulation Minutes of Evidence

Memorandum submitted by Mr Christopher Haskins


  The Better Regulation Task Force is an independent, advisory, unpaid group, appointed by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster for two years in September 1997 (The Chair is appointed for three years). It is supported by officials in the Better Regulation Unit of the Cabinet Office.

Terms of Reference

  "To advise the government on action which improves the effectiveness and credibility of government regulation by ensuring that it is necessary, fair and affordable, and simple to understand and administer, taking particular account of the needs of small businesses and ordinary people."


  The Task Force has 16 members and is chaired by Christopher Haskins. In line with the manifesto commitment, half have small business interests. But the Task Force's membership is also drawn from the wider business community, from citizen and voluntary groups, the trade union movement and the enforcement community (police and local authority) to ensure a balanced approach.

  Mr Haskins is also Chairman of Northern Foods plc and Express Dairies plc, a major UK food producer, having started with the company in 1962. His appointment as a working peer was announced on 20 June 1998 but he is yet to take his seat. He is a member of the UK Round Table on Sustainable Development and the CBI President's Council. He was a member of the Hampel Committee on Corporate Governance. In 1992-94 he was a member of the Independent Commission on Social Justice and in 1995-96 a member of William Waldegrave's Common Agricultural Policy Reform Group. He is a Trustee of DEMOS and of the National Civil Liberties Trust.

Principles of Good Regulation

  In January 1998 the Task Force published Principles of Good Regulation. The principles that the Task Force feel are necessary for good regulation are:

    —  Transparency

    —  Accountability

    —  Targeting

    —  Consistency

    —  Proportionality

  These principles were endorsed by the Prime Minister when he met the Task Force on 5 March 1998. They have also been sent to all MPs and British MEPs.

Work Programme

  The Task Force is using these principles as a template to examine key areas of regulation, including both existing and proposed regulation. It has published its findings as each area is completed. It has also responded to a number of consultation papers.

  A review of Consumer Affairs was published in May 1998. Among its recommendations were two deregulation orders:

    —  that the deregulation order on the self-verification of weighing and measuring equipment be brought to the relevant parliamentary committees as a matter of priority; and

    —  that a deregulation order should be introduced this year to remove licensing on the sale of game.

  A review of long-term care was also published in May 1998 and recommended two deregulation orders:

    —  a possible amendment to the Registered Homes Act 1984 to address the disproportionate nature of the situation whereby local authorities are barred from placing contracts with a proprietor is convicted of any offence; and

    —  consideration should be given to extending the use of model appeals mechanisms as set out in the Deregulation and Contracting Out Act.

  In July 1998 the Task Force will publish reviews of a further three areas:

    —  Childcare

    —  Charity funding

    —  Liquor licensing

  The Task Force will produce an annual report in September 1998.

Clara Swinson
Secretary to the Task Force

23 June 1998

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