The Big Debate: Red tape

Are bureaucracy and red tape strangling the UK IT industry?

Are bureaucracy and red tape strangling the UK IT industry?

Hague
We believe in deregulation in general. We will review the Regulation of Investigatory Powers (RIP) legislation to try and ensure the bill is not onerous on companies. The Government's own Better Regulation Task Force asked the Home Office to commission an independent assessment of the effect of the RIP Act one year after its implementation - so that strongly supports our view about the need for a review.

We will set up a deregulation commission that will have the power to send back to Government departments any regulations that are not proportionate or necessary. This would be a much stronger body than the present Government's Better Regulation Task Force, with real power.

In addition, we are going to create our own culture of deregulation. We are going to stop gold plating the European Commission directives and I am only going to promote ministers who get rid of more regulations than they introduce.

These will be the management objectives of a Conservative government.

The regulation of competition requires a balance between free markets and intervention. This country has a long established history of trying to strike that balance, but the balance isn't right at moment.

Kennedy
Business people want to get on with running their companies, creating wealth and providing more opportunities for their staff. They should not have to spend large amounts of their time acting as agents for the Government, coping with interminable
Business people want to get on with running their companies, creating wealth and providing more opportunities for their staff.
Source: Charles Kennedy
regulations and filling in endless forms.

We have published a list of 25 specific major regulations, including IR35, which we will scrap. We believe any new regulations should be subject to a "sunset clause", setting a deadline after which they would automatically lapse. We will also consult business before introducing any new measures.

My LibDem colleagues and I opposed many aspects of the RIP Bill because it was unnecessarily intrusive

Hewitt
When I took up this job 21 months ago we had a lot of very visible problems. Now we have a strategy, which has been in place for a considerable time, and is based around getting markets right, getting government right and getting people right.

Surveys from the Financial Times, Economist Intelligence Unit, and Arthur Andersen, for example, put Britain within the top three countries in the world in terms of business environment.

There is always a danger of adding unnecessary regulation as you try and solve real problems. On IR35, for example, the original Inland Revenue proposals would have been very damaging. We listened very carefully to the IT industry and made changes but the fact is most other countries have laws like IR35.

We believe in making the environment better for business. We have just announced that businesses will be able to use their audited accounts as the basis for their tax accounts. It is a good picture, but we are not complacent.

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