The PM's Big Idea is tangled in red tape talks

DEREGULATION, the Prime Minister's next Big Idea after the Citizen's Charter, has run into trouble with the very industrialists it hopes to woo.

Businessmen appointed to the seven task forces set up by Michael Heseltine, President of the Board of Trade, fear that their involvement may have been a waste of time.

Several said last week they would consider resigning if a Cabinet seminar at Downing Street on Tuesday does not produce wholesale reform of enforcement and supervisory powers.

Consumer and health and safety organisations, with children's, educational and disabled charities, fear that a 'rush to deregulation' threatens hard-won gains.

These attacks do not bode well for the Prime Minister, John Major, and his attempt to seize the public imagination.

The industrialists say privately that the Government wants a high-profile Bill which will win publicity by scrapping minor rules, but not tackle the big issues.

'If the Government is simply trying to get a list of 1,000 things to wipe off the statute book and 99.9 per cent of them are obsolete or irrelevant then it makes no difference to industry,' said a member of the construction industry task force.

'Most people aren't asking for regulations to be scrapped, they are asking for them to be better administered,' he said. 'They want the whole question of unfettered discretionary powers to be tackled.'

When the deregulation initiative was launched in February the Government vowed to free the private sector from unnecessary burdens. But the task forces' part- time members - from industries such as pharmaceuticals and chemicals, engineering and financial services - have only six Department of Trade and Industry civil servants and a few private sector professionals to help them.

The construction industry group will recommend on Tuesday that building regulations covering materials, structures, fire and the health and safety of site workers should all be administered by one authority. But this would require new legislation and provides scope for Whitehall in- fighting and conflict between central and local government.

To many outside industry, however, the Government is already being too radical. Among the critics are:

Disabled groups, which fear that regulations which force the construction industry to provide access to people in wheelchairs could be scrapped

The Child Accident Prevention Trust, which fears that safety regulations such as those controlling the flammability of children's night clothes could be jeopardised

Education pressure groups which fear that John Patten, the Secretary of State for Education, wants to remove safeguards against child abuse in small, independent schools

Rachel Hodgkin, a policy officer for the National Children's Bureau, said: 'It is right to free adults from red tape but not at the cost of putting children at risk.'

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application Developer

£30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Service Engineers - Doncaster / Hull

£27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Service Only Engineers are requ...

Recruitment Genius: Employability / Recruitment Adviser

£23600 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Employability Service withi...

Day In a Page

Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...