§ Sir Donald Thompson
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what representations he has received from the British Retail Consortium concerning the proposed Workplace (Fire Precautions) Regulations; and what estimate he has made of the cost to retailers, particularly small businesses, of the proposed regulations. 
§ Mr. Freeman
I refer to the reply given on 11 December,Official Report, columns 263–64, by the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, my hon. Friend the Member for Bolton, West (Mr. Sackville), to the hon. Member for Dumbarton (Mr. McFall).
My right hon. and noble Friend Baroness Blatch, Minister of State, Home Office, and I recently also had a meeting with representatives of the British Retail Consortium to discuss the possible implementation costs for the retail trade in complying with the proposed Workplace (Fire Precautions) Regulations. We visited two retail outlets with the British Retail Consortium, a fire service inspector and a fire prevention officer to assess at first hand possible implementation costs. I propose to visit further outlets in due course to gain further information for myself and colleagues. The Home Office will use the results, together with views from other businesses, in preparing a compliance cost assessment, which will accompany the proposed regulations.