Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

In My View

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

In My View

Article excerpt

Byline: By Hugh Morgan-Williams The Journal

This week I have had a visit from the Small Firms Minister Nigel Griffiths who wanted to see a small or medium-sized enterprise in action in the North-East.

One of the main purposes of the visit was to explain the burden of regulation on small firms in particular, who very often do not have the time or resources to implement the various rules and regulations effectively.

The time taken to abide by the law means less time for growing the business, less time for customers, less time for staff and, just as important, less time for one's own family.

We took the Minister through a day in the life of the company, and the many regulations that impacted upon us; more important the human and financial costs of them.

There are some impressive examples of why the British Civil Service is the best in the world - they really know how to implement rules and regulations.

I find it strange that their equivalents in other countries spend most of their time working out how their businesses can avoid regulation, rather than be caught by it.

The example of the Meat Inspection Directive is perhaps the best known. In order to implement a scheme to inspect abbatoirs, the French set up a government department staffed by five people.

Here in Britain we set up the Meat Hygiene Service, employing hundreds of vets up and down the country, and forcing the closure of many small abbatoirs which could not afford to comply with the new regulations.

For a business that employs nearly 200 people, we have estimated that four people work for the Government, not for us.

Apart from being the Government's tax collectors and administrators of social benefits, we collect statistics on European trade.

If we do not do this we are heavily fined. Since we import and export to all the EU countries, such a task involves special computer software, expensive management time to check it, and an impressive 350-page report each month.

Despite numerous requests from various Government departments, no-one seems to know why this information is necessary. …

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