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Written Answers. - Towards Better Regulation.

Wednesday, 27 March 2002

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 551 No. 3

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 13. Mr. Quinn Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  asked the Taoiseach Information on Bertie Ahern Zoom on Bertie Ahern  the main features of his Department's consultation document, Towards Better Regulation; the planned consultation process; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8936/02]

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern Zoom on Bertie Ahern I was pleased to be able to launch a very important public consultation document, Towards Better Regulation, on 27 February last. It marked the start of a public consultation process which will help us to frame the first ever Irish national policy statement on better regulation. Because of its importance and relevance to the work of the Oireachtas, I arranged to have copies presented formally to the House and individually sent to all Members.

This consultation document is intended to be the basis of an important debate on the economic and social aspects of the regulatory process. It begins the process of framing a national policy on regulation and regulatory management. The consultation document sets out the hard questions we need to address in considering why we regulate, what we need to regulate and new approaches to governance in a global economy.

The consultation document raises a broad range of questions in three general areas, each of which are influenced by the quality of our regulation. These are: the performance of the economy and better consumer welfare; the quality of our governance systems; and the efficiency and effectiveness of the public service.

Good regulation and good government go hand in hand. Regulatory reform has been a key element of modernising our public service since Delivering Better Government was published in 1996. However, not only is the quality of our regulation important to our public service, it is also critical if we are to sustain the economic and social progress of the last five years. Sustained and increased competitiveness through better regulation can secure and create jobs and generate more resources for social inclusion. This is consistent with the growing recognition in Ireland and internationally that regulation has a big influence on competitiveness. Excessive regulation creates undue and costly burdens on enterprises, puts up barriers to market entry and exit and inhibits innovation. Our own National Competitiveness Council has publicly called for a national policy statement on regulation and this is what we will now deliver.

The consultation being undertaken is consistent with this Government's efforts to ensure that, as far as possible, a wide range of views are heard on important issues of public policy. This has been our approach – whether through the social [766] partnership framework or through stand-alone consultation exercises that have been undertaken by my ministerial colleagues on specific policy issues. My Department's document and the consultation process which has commenced, continues that approach.

A three month consultation period has been allowed for and the deadline for receipt of submissions is the end of May 2002. Submissions from all quarters are welcome and are being actively encouraged. The document has been widely publicised. Advertisements were placed in the national daily newspapers in February and the possibility of re-advertising the process in April is being held open. It is available on my Department's website and links to it have been placed on the websites of other Departments and agencies. It has also been widely distributed among the social partners, to professional bodies, business organisations and the community and voluntary sector. Copies have also been made available to public libraries and third level colleges.

What we want at the end of this exercise are the policies to guide the design and implementation of better regulations. It is important to emphasise that this process is not about resolving every micro-level regulatory issue or specific market problem. It is about giving us a set of core principles around: what is regulated in the economy and in society; why certain economic and social activities are regulated; what alternatives should be considered and in what circumstances; and when regulations are the preferred option, how best to enact and enforce them.

I see these principles being set down in an overarching national policy statement, perhaps as a Government White Paper. Getting our regulatory environment right is crucial if we are to ensure that our policies deliver on the important issues such as fostering employment and innovation, developing our communities, ensuring law and order and advancing national prosperity and competitiveness.

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