Tories blitz red tape despite Cable’s scepticism
Fresh Conservative ministers are embarking on a frenzy of cutting red tape, to the apparent bemusement of business secretary Vince Cable.
The senior Liberal Democrat told Sky News' Murnaghan programme yesterday that he doubted the ability of supply-side reforms to make a difference to the economy.
"The problem of growth is that we have a very serious shortage of demand," Cable told BBC1's The Andrew Marr Show yesterday.
"It's nothing to do with those supply side measures basically. It's a demand issue."
Supply-side economics focuses on cuts to taxes and regulation as the best means of stimulating growth. Cable's scepticism about its relevance to the double-dip recession appeared to clash with moves announced this morning to overhaul or scrap over 3,000 regulations, pass legislation protecting businesses from 'compensation culture' claims and exempt hundreds of thousands of firms from health and safety inspections.
Anxious Tories frustrated by Cable's limited enthusiasm for deregulation had hoped the arrival of Michael Fallon and Matthew Hancock, appointed to ministerial jobs at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Bis) in last week's reshuffle, would encourage the business secretary to go further.
Their hopes appear to have been met. In a press release promoting the 'blitz' on business growth, Cable stated: "In these tough times, businesses need to focus all their energies on creating jobs and growth, not being tied up in unnecessary red tape.
"I've listened to those concerns and we're determined to put common sense back into areas like health and safety, which will reduce costs and fear of burdensome inspections."
Only those businesses operating in risky sectors like construction, or which have a poor health and safety record, will continue to be inspected under the government's proposals.
Business minister Fallon seemed especially enthusiastic about reducing unwanted burdens on British firms.
"Today's announcement injects fresh impetus into our drive to cut red tape" he said.
"We have identified the red tape and now we are going to cut it.
"We're getting out of the way by bringing common sense back to health and safety. We will now be holding departments' feet to the fire to ensure all unnecessary red tape is cut."
Not all Conservative MPs are overjoyed by the news. Some were disappointed by former Tory business minister Mark Prisk's failure to go further in cutting regulation and remain sceptical about the Tories' ability to make real inroads into regulation. One backbencher told politics.co.uk: "Let's see it happen before we start celebrating."