Government move to axe 24 bodies doesn't go far enough

The Liberal Democrats have slammed government moves to axe 24 regulatory bodies as not going far enough.

Liberal Democrats Treasury spokesman Malcolm Bruce was responding to the Treasury's pledge to implement the proposals in the Hampton Review of business regulation.

Bruce told Insurance Times: "The Hampton review is a move in the right direction, but there is more that could be done."

Last week, the government said it would merge 31 of the 63 national regulators currently in place into seven. Financial secretary to the Treasury Stephen Timms said: "The reason the Chancellor agreed to implement the Hampton Review was a recognition that we do need to bear down on the regulatory burden and to reduce bureaucracy."

The Treasury also promised that all regulatory bodies would target companies for inspection according to a risk assessment. Currently, only 36 bodies assess the risk a company poses before requesting information and carrying out inspections.

Timms said: "Where you can see a track record that risk is lower, then you can stand back. Where there are problems, regulation and inspection will be more intrusive.

"Firms shouldn't have to give the same piece of information twice. There will be no inspections without a reason for them."

But Bruce said that the Treasury should go further.

"For small businesses there should be a single inspectorate. We need to consolidate the regulators and we would subject all regulation to the review of the deregulation unit."

He also said that pressure should come from the EU to reduce the impact of regulation on businesses.

"What we would like to see is the British presidency of the EU promoting independent impact assessments on regulation and sunset clauses as part of the European approach."

The government will begin implementing Hampton's recommendations immediately, slashing one million inspections a year and reducing the number of forms regulators send out by 25%, according to the Treasury.