Red tape clean-up hits rock bottom

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The Independent Online
LEGISLATION TO speed up the abolition of Britain's most arcane regulations is being drawn up by the Government in a new drive to slash red tape for businesses and the public.

Ministers are determined to overhaul the 1994 Deregulation Act after it emerged that the number of outdated laws scrapped by Parliament had hit a record low.

To reduce the amount of unnecessary European regulations, ministers also hope to set up a new Deregulation Unit within the European Commission as part of this summer's reforms of Brussels bureaucracy.

Everything from 85-year-old pub licensing laws to restrictions on advertisements for bingo clubs have been in the sights of the Cabinet Office's regulatory impact unit. But just seven Deregulation Orders were laid before the Commons in 1997-98, the lowest number since the Act was introduced. Peter Kilfoyle, the Public Service minister, believes that progress has been hampered by the cumbersome parliamentary machinery.

Under the Act, both the Commons and Lords Deregulation Committees have a minimum of 60 days' scrutiny of any plans to scrap old laws. Mr Kilfoyle aims to end this and streamline procedures. A draft Bill could be included in the Queen's Speech this year.