The Business On: Mark Prisk, Business and Enterprise Minister

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The Independent Online

The grinch who stole Christmas?

Are you referring to his decision yesterday to scrap regulations such as employees' rights to request flexible working? If so, bear in mind that the red tape bonfire is mostly confined to small businesses, which have long complained about being subject to all sorts of time-consuming rules that large companies cansimply get HR to look at.

But aren't people going to miss out now?

Well, they might have fewer workplace rights, but Mr Prisk would no doubt argue his reforms are aimed at ensuring they continue to at least have a workplace. Still, this does make the Government's promise to be "the most family-friendly" administration ever ring a little hollow.

What does Mr Prisk know about small business anyway?

To be fair, he spent most of the nineties running his own smallcompanies, before getting himself elected to Parliament at the third attempt. He's also just finished a week of work experience at small businesses, spending a day with each of them.

So he's not one of those policy wonks then?

Well he did a bit of that too. He made his name in Tory student politics, as vice-chairman of the Federation of Conservative Students, and he also chaired the youth wing of Peace through Nato.

With all that under his belt, he must be a sure-footed minister?

For the most part. Still, describing the Government's abolition of regional development agencies as a "great leap forward", a reference to Chairman Mao's famously unsuccessful five-year economic plan, did not go down well with many people.

Some people just have no sense of humour.

Quite. Mr Prisk does though. Ask his wife, Lesley Titcomb. While he's trying to make his name by abolishing regulation, she makes her living from it – she's the chief operating officer of the Financial Services Authority. Let's just hope this doesn't cause disharmony – the couple are both members of the Parliament Choir.