Wednesday, March 01, 2006

That elephant in the room, again…

The front page of the Telegraph business section runs the headline and graphic illustrated (left).

Government regulations have cost British business £50bn since Labour came to power, billions more than the Treasury expects to collect in corporation tax this year.

This is research carried out by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) based on official figures, and shows that the burden to business of complying with workplace, consumer protection and environmental regulations has reached £10bn a year. Even if no new regulations are passed over the next five years, says the BCC, the total red tape burden since Labour came to power will hit £100bn by 2011.

It is not until you look at the list of regulation about which the BCC complains, available only online, that you realise that by far the bulk is EU-originated.

Yet, what we get from Sally Low, the BCC's director of policy, is that the "sheer volume of new rules was overwhelming businesses and the government had to act."

And precisely how is the government supposed to act, Mz Low, if you can't even see the elephant in the room?


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