Dr Julian Lewis: I fully accept that in certain Departments — including the Minister’s own — Ministers are trying conscientiously to weigh up the different factors, come to sensible decisions and stick to them; but will he take the message back to the Government that the inability of Government at a very high level to choose policies that seem capable of withstanding gusts of public opinion or media opinion, which is something else, is undermining confidence in the process — at least in part of Government — because if a decision has to be changed in the way that my hon. Friend the Member for Christchurch (Sir Christopher Chope) described in his rather splendid opening speech, that suggests that a certain degree of rigour is absent.
[The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Paul Scully): I think that rather than gusts of public pressure, the Government have been working in what is, in effect, as close to real-time decision making as we are ever going to get, and it is based on health advice and the business response. My right hon. Friend talked about the press and the media; I direct him to the example with which my hon. Friend the Member for Christchurch started – male eyebrow trimming and beard trimming – because that was never actually in the guidance. The guidance, which I worked on, was such that male beard trimming could work out, apart from detailing at the front if there was close, face-to-face, near contact. That was exactly the same as female eyebrow trimming, so there was no sense that men could go and get their eyebrows trimmed and women could not. The rhetoric in the media that men were getting a better deal than females, which understandably upset beauticians, just was not the actuality – it was not what was happening – but unfortunately, as we know, it is sometimes difficult to work with the media to stop a good story. We must continue to engage. We do want to get back to the formality of regulatory impact assessments but, as I say, we need to engage at pace, so we will continue to listen to businesses. Sometimes, the consultations on the guidance we have been working on have lasted literally 12 hours on a Sunday. That guidance has come to me, to the unions and to businesses and we have all been acting within the same time constraints. We have not been hiding things away from businesses and those people who are most affected by this situation.]