Select Committee on European Union Thirteenth Report


Letter from the Chairman of Sub-Committee B to Patricia Hewitt MP, Department of Trade and Industry

  Thank you for your letter of 13 January 2000 to my predecessor, Lord Geddes, giving the Government's response to this Sub-Committee's Report on Promoting Small and Medium Enterprises in the EU.

  I am glad to see that the Government readily endorses most of the points which the Sub-Committee raised and I am encouraged by the attention which the Government is giving to informing SMEs, and to helping them deal with the complexities of business in the Single Market.

  I note, however, that we must agree to differ over definitions of SMEs and that, you are not convinced that a case can readily be made now for a European Small Business Agency.

  I have to say, too, that I am far from reassured by your response on "gold plating" (paragraph 94). The feeling in the Sub-Committee is that "gold plating" should be avoided where possible and most certainly kept to a minimum. We look to the Government to dissuade Departments from moving in this direction, rather than it being a question merely of measuring an instance of "gold plating" against a criterion of cost/benefit. If it has to happen, it should be clearly marked as such in subordinate legislation. This is, in fact, what we recommend in paragraph 94. It would be helpful to have a specific Government response to our recommendation.

  You will wish to know that the Sub-Committee is considering whether or not one or some of the topics in our Report merit further investigation.

19 January 2000

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