§ 8. Gillian Merron (Lincoln)
What assessment she has made of the impact of the Employment Bill on small businesses. 
§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (Nigel Griffiths)
The Government consulted extensively on the proposals in the Employment Bill to ensure, among other things, that the impact on small businesses was taken into account.
§ Gillian Merron
I thank the Minister for his reply. I particularly welcome the measures in the Employment Bill to allow small businesses easily to give paid time off to parents welcoming a new child into the family. However, having heard the continuing concern of my local branch of the Federation of Small Businesses, may I ask my hon. Friend to outline the action that he is taking to relieve the burden of red tape? What steps is he taking to outline to small businesses the implications of the Employment Bill?
§ Nigel Griffiths
My hon. Friend rightly points out how improved statutory maternity pay provisions from April will aid even more small businesses with 105 per cent. refunds, which will help 60 per cent. of affected small 429 and medium-sized enterprises, compared with 44 per cent. beforehand. The Government have accepted all but eight of the 294 recommendations from the better regulation taskforce. Our Regulatory Reform Act 2001 is making it easier and quicker to repeal out-of-date legislation. Our Small Business Service is working in partnership with the Federation of Small Businesses, the Forum of Private Business, the chambers of commerce and others to identify the impact of the Employment Bill on SMEs in particular, and how that might be dealt with.
§ Mr. Mark Prisk (Hertford and Stortford)
Is it true, and can the Minister confirm, that the cost of the Employment Bill rose during Committee stage from about £200 million to £500 million, that cost falling on businesses, in particular small businesses? Will he reflect on those costs and listen to and understand the concerns expressed by small business organisations, which believe that what they were originally promised when the Bill was introduced in the House has changed substantially?
§ Nigel Griffiths
We have listened with care to the representations that we have received from small businesses, but we are firm in our support for proper standards in the workplace. That is why we are for the minimum wage, increased maternity and paternity leave, and the flexible working that is so essential to the 21st-century economy. What is important is that the benefits of the legislation to many millions of workers far outweigh the costs involved.