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Alan Duncan: It's time to cut back on regulation

In a speech to Party Conference 2007, Alan Duncan (Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform) said:

"This time yesterday, I was doing the Great North Run in Tyneside. My local paper had kindly publicised it as 'Half marathon race to be run by half pint MP'.

Well I did it. My photo finish with Paula Radcliffe is something James Purnell would have been proud of.

As I ran through Newcastle my thoughts turned to the plight of Northern Rock, and as I ran through Gateshead I thought about my responsibilities as the Shadow Minister for Tyneside and the challenges the North East faces in generating the prosperity it deserves.

Tyneside is proud and it is vibrant. As a party we look forward to holding our Spring Forum there next March. We will go there with respect and admiration for the character of the region and its people.

I have pledged to make all our business policies pass what I call the Tyneside Test, because an area which is falling behind others in its employment and entrepreneurship is a crucial one in which to measure the merits of our policies.

It is critical too for gaining an understanding of the real effects of this country's regional policy. We are subjecting Regional Development Agencies to focused scrutiny so as to assess whether they really change the underlying economy of their region for the better.

In doing so I have a fantastic parliamentary team whose hard work delivers more value for money than anyone could imagine.

By contrast, you may not even have heard of John Hutton. When Conservatives like Michael Heseltine and David Young took a decision, you knew it would make a difference. When people like Alistair Darling and John Hutton take a decision you know it will make a mess.

And when it comes to Post Offices, for instance, we will not tolerate the mess they are making of people's lives by deliberately shutting down the branch network so many people value so much.

The DTI, as it used to be called, failed to speak up for business, failed to oppose needless regulations, and failed to promote British business across the world. Instead of changing the Department, what did they do? They just changed the name! To DBERR...

What is the point of adding 'Regulatory Reform' to this mouthful of a title only to advertise to the whole world that Britain has a growing problem with its burden of regulation?

Even on this very day - today - 188 new regulations come into force. While other countries make products; we sometime just make rules - rules that cost British business £56bn a year. We will cut that cost.

Instead of just changing the department's name, we will address the problem of regulation hard and fast, removing unnecessary burdens from business.

We will reduce regulation by defining a coherent concept of what regulation actually means, and we will inject sense into our understanding of risk.

We will make this Department the clearing house across Whitehall for all legislation which has a regulatory impact.

We will ensure that for any regulation that is introduced two or more existing ones will be removed.

And above all, we will end the practice of turning a one page EU directive into a hundred pages of UK law.

In this era of intense global competition, business needs a successful department behind it.

We have a clear vision for a department that champions free enterprise and responsible business, giving them more opportunity and power;

we need one which champions small business and makes it easier to set one up;

we need a department that establishes fairness, flexibility and equality and work;

we need one that promotes our commercial interests in all corners of the world,

and we need a department whose energy policy addresses climate change and the challenge of keeping our supplies secure.

Any such business policy is inextricably entwined with our overall economic policy. George Osborne is right. Stability must come first. And stability requires both political honesty and a long-term view.

My charge against Gordon Brown is that he has squandered a decade of growth and stored up massive problems for later. He has built his political success on the illusion of unending prosperity, using it as an instrument for his own selfish advance instead of as a foundation for the country's future.

For ages he has gone on about Prudence. Prudence! Prudence, it seems, is not such a pretty lass. All this time, it now turns out, Prudence has been on the game.

Brown is the man who has doubled your council tax and destroyed your pension. He is the man who has presided over a collapse in saving and an astronomical explosion in personal debt. He is the man whose budgets - don't ever forget - were an exercise in trickery and deceit.

He is the man who will tax anything that moves and everything that doesn't. He is the man who has turned the Revenue & Customs into a force for nasty aggression. He is the man in whose country 5.3m adults of working age do not have a job.

And he is also the man whose personal decision has cost us billions because against all the best advice, he sold our gold reserves for tuppence, and has missed out on what are now the highest gold prices for 27 years.

Gordon Brown has fiddled with the pension rules, taxed house sales, set up useless investment funds, complicated the tax codes, hidden PFI debt, concocted the bankruptcy of Railtrack, and demanded tax credit refunds from some of our poorest people in the country.

He is the man who has squandered a decade of growth and has set aside nothing for a rainy day.

But it's worse. Over the last few weeks we have seen a shameless attempt on his part to pull every trick in the book to woo the voters of Britain.

We are living in the world predicted by George Orwell. Gordon Brown was elected in 1983. I feel it all started in 1984. The central control of that novel, and the spooky allegory of life on Animal Farm, is being lived out for real, here, in Britain, today.

We are witnessing government by propaganda of the most chillingly deceitful sort. Nothing is genuine; everything is calculated. Be it the blue tie, or the visit of Margaret Thatcher to No 10, everything is a cynical contrivance.

For me politics is about what you believe in. For Gordon Brown it is what you can get away with.

Gordon Brown is an utterly shameless peddler of propaganda. When things go wrong he just disappears. When world financial markets turn, he tries to commit the Governor of the Bank of England to the knackers' yard like Boxer the horse.

It brings a new meaning to 'Not me Guv'.

And even now, if you know your Animal Farm, there is an unsuspecting Snowdrop the pig sitting somewhere around his cabinet table.

He crafts announcements for their headline but never for real action. He hides problems; he doesn't solve them. We are being deluded by a wicked approach to government which believes that effective propaganda is more important than effective policy.

When it is so artificial where, Mr Brown, is your moral compass now?

British politics has been captured in a massive cage of propaganda. He orders, he commands, he bullies, he plots, he instructs and he dominates.

So much so, that in an age of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.

But it is our duty to tell the truth, and however much he commands, he should be warned - that truth is a creature of time, it is not the prisoner of authority.

We may or may not be on the brink of a General Election. If we are, we must fight with all our might to stop a calculating Prime Minister from getting away with it. He is softening people up in an utterly immoral exercise in political persuasion.

In politics, I will tell it as it is. In politics you must fight him as you can.

The possibilities of failure do not exist.

Gloves on. Head up high.

Be hungry. Be ferociously determined. The fight is on.

And fight to be sure that our honesty will triumph over his deceit."

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