23 Nov 2011

Did Cameron get what he wanted from Beecroft lite?

Should any bosses of companies with under 10 employees be thinking that they are about to be passed powers to have a word with an irritating employee and get shot of them they should probably not be getting their hopes up. Vince Cable’s speech on employment rights doesn’t go that far.

He’s not saying that employment regulations for micro-companies should go. He’s not even saying that there should be a “consultation” on that. He’s saying there will be a “call for evidence” on the matter. That’s a pretty sharp dig at Adrian “CJ” Beecroft and the lack of evidence in his report on how less employment regulation would help economic growth.

There was painful crunching of this issue in wider ministerial meetings and in the Quad, with David Cameron determined there should be something to show for Mr Beecroft’s work. So Vince Cable eventually conceded a “call for evidence”.

Whitehall Consultations tend to take a minimum of 4 months (about 12 weeks for the actual subsmissions and then a minimum of a month for a high speed consideration).

What Vince Cable is signalling with his “call for evidence” is that he doesn’t think there’s anything much out there – a bit like whistling for a help in an empty canyon. Of course, he could be wrong and the submissions and data could come piling in.

But that’s not Vince Cable’s expectation.  David Cameron got “Beecroft lite,” some say, but some Tories may come away from all this thinking this is a “caffeine-free, diet, zero, skinny Beecroft” and the Lib Dems have frustrated what they see as vital reform yet again.

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