The Conservatives in Brighton: Private sector 'should set regulations for industry'

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The Independent Online
STATE regulations controlling everything from health and safety at work and food production, to the sale of dangerous goods and fire prevention should be handed over to the private sector, a minister said yesterday.

Neil Hamilton, corporate affairs minister, told a fringe meeting of the right-wing Conservative Way Forward group, that all government regulations should be abolished. Instead it should be left to industry to determine what regulations are necessary.

Market forces, he said, would ensure the rules were enforced. 'Just as we privatised industry we should privatise regulations,' he said. Businesses make profits 'by selling to customers the goods they want to buy at prices they want to pay. If they sell shoddy goods they go under'.

The public, he declared, would have more faith in rules set by businesses than in those drawn up by officials in Whitehall.

Mr Hamilton is overseeing the first round of the Government's programme to cut red tape. He promised that the Queen's Speech next month would contain a Deregulation Bill which would sweep away many regulations.

Task forces are reporting back to him all the time on rules they think should be repealed. But the minister also indicated that the exercise was meeting resistance among civil servants.

Where civil servants stone- wall, he said, it was the job of ministers 'to beat them up'.

He was speaking on the same day that the GMB union produced a report, Freedom to Kill?, which it claimed, demonstrated the case against deregulation. The union claims the plans will endanger lives.