Will Enterprise Bill stimulate growth?

The Government has introduced legislation promising to encourage long-term growth, although some of the country's leading business organisations seem, at best, to be taking a wait-and-see attitude to the new proposals.

Presenting the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill to Parliament, Business Secretary Vince Cable said: “Growing our economy out of a period of acute crisis is the most pressing issue for this Government. We want to make sure the right conditions are in place to encourage investment and exports, boost enterprise, support green growth and build a responsible business culture."

The Bill includes provisions to change the employment tribunal system by encouraging parties to come together to settle their dispute before a tribunal claim is lodged, through Acas early conciliation and greater use of Settlement Agreements.

It also aims to make the determination of less complex disputes quicker and cheaper for employers and employees alike, through a new "Rapid Resolution" scheme. Taking away the fear of employment tribunals will give business more confidence to take on new staff, the Government said.

The Bill will also address the disconnect between directors’ pay and long-term company performance by giving shareholders of UK-quoted companies binding votes on directors’ remuneration.

It will also reduce inspection burdens on businesses of all sizes and increase SME access to "reliable, consistent advice" on complying with regulations in areas such as trading standards, health and safety and environmental health.

The Bill has not been well-received by the Institute of Directors (IoD) with Alexander Ehmann, Head of Regulation and Employment Policy, describing it as disappointing.

"It signals another missed opportunity for the Government," he said. "In a week where Adrian Beecroft’s report has dominated the news agenda, the gap between government rhetoric and actual deregulation is all too obvious."

For the CBI, Chief Policy Director Katja Hall said that it was light on detail in some key areas.

"Companies will judge the Government’s progress by what changes in their business on the ground," she said. "So far, there has been too little progress in too many areas, with the Government’s intended changes yet to filter through."

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