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Mr. White: Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the Home Secretary has written to the British Chambers of Commerce pointing out that the figures just quoted are greater than the entire internet turnover of the various companies at the time? The figure for leakage is given as 5 per cent. but the figures add up to more than 100 per cent. of current turnover.
Mr. Lansley: This is not the time to examine the whole report, which runs to 35 pages. However, the hon. Gentleman will understand that the report anticipates diversion not from an existing but a prospective level of business over up to five years. In a sense, he has helped to make my point. The authors of the report are working within a range of estimates of the growth of business for internet service providers over five years.
Given the conflicting estimates of the regulatory impacts over a five-year period, we could find that the Home Office is right and that the regulatory impacts of the legislation over five years are modest. Alternatively, we could find that the costs are at the high end, illustrated by the report prepared for the British Chambers of Commerce, which I agree seem very large indeed. If the report is right about the direct costs of £640 million or the cost of the diversion of business amounting to £1 billion, those figures are orders of magnitude greater than the regulatory impacts foreseen by the Home Office in the report.
We may not know for two or three years whose estimate is right. However, it would be regrettable if Ministers legislated on the basis of one set of estimates and the whole system goes to "fire and forget" when it ought to be the responsibility of the House to look again at the legislation. It is the commitment of my right hon. Friend the Member for Wells (Mr. Heathcoat-Amory) that when we have the opportunity to do so, we shall review it for that reason.
Mr. Bercow: We do not need to look into the crystal ball when we can read the book. Is it not the case that the torrent of regulations and the absence of any trigger mechanism for their review prevents businesses from expanding, causes them to stand still and forces many of them to shed staff? Does my hon. Friend agree that even if we leave aside the considerable number of companies that go bankrupt, large numbers of small business owners,
Mr. Lansley: My hon. Friend makes a case against the burden of regulation, as he does regularly. He sets the argument in the right context. It is wrong for us to think, as we are often tempted to, about individual regulations while ignoring regulation in general and the overall burden that it imposes.
It is vital, as both my hon. Friend the Member for Buckingham (Mr. Bercow) and my right hon. Friend the Member for Wells, the Opposition spokesman on trade and industry, have made perfectly clear, to set our regulatory activity in the context of commitments not only to sunset clauses but to regulatory budgets so that we bring down the burden of regulation progressively. That is the only way to unlock competitiveness and bring further growth.
Mr. Ian Stewart (Eccles): The hon. Gentleman outlined a range of important issues that need to be addressed. However, does he not accept that his view that deregulation is the only way to success is wrong and that underinvestment has had at least the same impact, if not a greater one, than regulation?
Mr. Lansley: I am surprised that the hon. Gentleman should characterise my remark as suggesting that regulation is the only issue for competitiveness. It is, none the less, important for that. The latest MORI survey of business suggests that the ranking of importance of issues to businesses for their future competitiveness is skills shortages, followed by regulation. He should not underestimate the importance of regulation to business in its future competitiveness.
Of course the hon. Gentleman is right that investment is important. Businesses will find, I am afraid, that the structure of domestic savings in the economy is such that the future prospects for investment are considerably reduced, as is the prospect for private sector investment and consumption, because the Government are crowding out private sector activity with extravagant growth in the public sector.
Mr. Fabricant: My hon. Friend is more than generous in giving way to me. What is important, as the Prime Minister might say, is to recognise that there is a problem. Is my hon. Friend aware that the World Economic Forum has identified the fact that Britain, which was in fourth place in the competitiveness league for businesses in 1997, when the Government came to power, has fallen to ninth place?
Mr. Fabricant: This has everything to do with new clause 1. You will have read new clause 1, Madam Deputy Speaker. Does my hon. Friend agree that the lack of competitiveness can be combated by new clause 1, which would ensure that regulations that create uncompetitiveness can be repealed?
Sir Martin Jacomb was instrumental in privatising British Telecom in the mid-1980s. He later became chairman of the Prudential and deputy chairman of Barclays bank. This week, he wrote in The Daily Telegraph about the impact of regulations and bureaucracy on business. I shall refer to only one of his recommendations for turning back the tide of regulation. He stated that home-grown regulations should have sunset provisions built in, that they should be subject to automatic review after a specified period, and that they should automatically expire if not renewed. The Bill is a regulatory measure as well as a deregulatory measure, so it is important to build a sunset review into the structure of regulation.
Finally, I draw attention to the fact that a review provision under the new clause would allow the House to become more aware than hitherto of the burden of regulation as experienced outside. We want to get away from "fire and forget" with regard to regulations, because even now our knowledge of regulatory impacts is limited.
In March, the Minister for the Cabinet Office published the latest of her six-monthly reports on regulatory impact assessments. It detailed the 79 assessments made between 1 July and 31 December 2000--more than enough for six months, one would have thought--but one or two seemed to have been omitted. I was surprised at that, given how comprehensive and thorough she is, so I investigated further.
I found that 20 regulatory impact assessments made by Government Departments were not listed in the report. For example, an assessment was published of a European directive relating to measures to be taken against air pollution by emissions from passenger cars and light commercial vehicles. The assessment was signed by Lord Whitty on 5 December 2000, and estimated the cumulative effect of the proposals in annualised costs to UK manufacturers at between £980 million and £1.47 billion, with a price impact on a new medium-sized vehicle of between £420 and £885.
Other assessments of orders or regulations absent from the March report are equally interesting. They include assessments of orders dealing with regulating the supply of number plates, which has a less marked impact than the example that I have just given. Another assessment was of an order dealing with the supply of new cars, which was signed by the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry on 31 July. Another missing assessment relates to the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, in which additional continuing costs were estimated at £74 million a year.
Among the other assessments missing from the report was one of an order relating to a proposal to introduce vehicle identity checks. That order was signed by a Minister in another place from the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions, and its cost was estimated at £22 million a year. Another order--the only one that I could find that benefited industry through a reduction in compliance costs--related to the Gaming Act 1968. Another, dealing with fees for goods vehicles--
Mr. Lansley: The hon. Gentleman must not misunderstand me. My purpose is not to debate the merits of the measures, which may be greater than their costs. That relationship is examined when any regulation is introduced. I am sure that he will agree that the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 was an excellent measure. It was taken through the House by my right hon. Friend the Member for Richmond, Yorks (Mr. Hague). I agree that there is a need to protect disabled people in law.