New Forest East


[John Redwood: Before I finish this general point, it is worth reminding the House that we read from an extensive brief in one of the leading newspapers today that the Government now believe that the total cost of regulation each year is £150 billion. Indeed, the very arresting headline said that regulation now costs everyone more than the Inland Revenue charged us all in income tax. It is a terrifying figure. Those who saw the article will know that it continued by pointing out that a team of about 80 officials are working away over a nine-month period to try to come up with an entirely accurate costing. [Interruption.] I am asked whether the figure is true. I cannot verify it completely tonight, having only seen it this morning, but it seems a pretty good ball park figure and it feels plausible, given that we know that the cumulative total of extra regulation under the Government is £40 billion. They inherited some of that, but made it worse through over-implementation.]

Dr Julian Lewis: Perhaps I can throw a little light on just a fraction of that burden. Is my right hon. Friend aware that Hampshire county council, which has consistently been rated excellent without the necessity for all these targets, has supplied me with a list of more than 22 A4 pages? It lists 400 indices, targets and standards of performance on which it is obliged to report. It uses up resources equivalent to the employment of between six and eight teachers in simply reporting back to the Government on the extent to which the council has managed to meet the overwhelming burden of targets imposed on it.

[Mr Redwood: My hon. Friend makes a powerful point. It is one of many examples that Members could provide, and some will, about the huge impact of such regulation and how it diverts people and money from things that are worth doing – in my hon. Friend's case, the good example of providing more teachers – to things that are not worth doing, which amounts to bossiness gone mad.]