Byers set to unveil three White Papers this month

AN AVALANCHE of legislative proposals ranging from new safeguards for consumers to changes in the Royal Mail monopoly is set to hit business when Stephen Byers, the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, returns from a 10-day tour of the Far East later this month.

Mr Byers flies out on Saturday for a tour of Japan, Hong Kong and China, where he will become the first Cabinet minister from a Nato country to visit the country since the bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade.

On his return, the DTI is due to publish three White Papers in a week. The first will set out the Government's consumer strategy, including plans to tighten the enforcement of consumer protection laws and give consumers better information on their rights.

The White Paper is likely to be accompanied by the department's first "name and shame" list, highlighting the different prices charged for a range of goods in Britain compared with other countries.

Mr Byers will also publish a White Paper setting out how the Post Office will be granted more commercial freedom and plans to reduce its letter monopoly, probably to 50p.

Meanwhile, the DTI will also publish a consultation document on its new Small Business Service, which is backed by pounds 100m of new funding and will coordinate policy across different Whitehall departments and give small firms a stronger voice in government.

Other announcements promised from Mr Byers before Parliament's summer recess include decisions on the partial privatisation of BNFL and the British Aerospace-GEC Marconi merger and a statement of government policy towards boardroom pay.