John Moore – 1985 Speech on Lifting the Burden

Below is the text of the speech made by John Moore, the then Financial Secretary to the Treasury, in the House of Commons on 16 July 1985.

I wish to make a statement on the White Paper “Lifting the Burden”.

One of the major objectives of this Government is to make sure that the right conditions exist for enterprise to flourish. This is essential for the creation of jobs and wealth. The country needs more jobs and we need more wealth to pay for all the socially desirable things we expect to be provided—such as pensions, the Health Service and education.

For far too long, successive Governments—albeit with good intentions—have tended to stifle much-needed enterprise with restriction and regulation. Today, we are publishing a White Paper called “Lifting the Burden”, which sets out to put that situation right.

As the House will recall, in March of this year, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry published a report entitled “Burdens on Business”. This showed that Government requirements constitute a major drain on business—particularly small business—in terms of direct cost and of management time.

“Lifting the Burden” is the result of the Government’s consideration of the recommendations in that report and of looking more widely at the scope for change. It also reflects the widespread representations on the report which the Government have received.

The White Paper is the first major step in a continuing programme of removing unnecessary regulations. It refers to about 80 measures covering a wide range of initiatives in a number of areas, including planning, tax and social security, employment protection, and trade and industry—some of which have already been undertaken and some of which are for the future. Each is designed to allow firms to divert scarce resources away from complying with bureaucratic requirements and towards developing and expanding their business.

This is but the beginning of the process, for one of the most important elements in the White Paper is the setting up of a new system within Government to assess proposed and existing regulations from the point of view of the burden the may impose on business. The primary responsibility for this must be within the appropriate Department, but a Central Task Force is being set up, within the Enterprise Unit in the Cabinet Office, to assist Departments in their consideration of how the burden on business of regulations can be minimised.

I should emphasise to the House that we are not seeking to remove all regulations. Essential protection for workers, consumers and the general public must be maintained. And we must protect our quality of life. The Government have sought to strike the right balance between liberty and licence. The White Paper adopts a balanced approach. It represents a major step forward in giving businesses the freedom to flourish and grow. I commend it to the attention of the House.