Vince Cable announces 'bonfire of the retail red tape'

Cable says: "We have struck a balance between keeping regulations necessary to protect consumers, the workforce and the environment, while rolling back the number of rules and regulations our businesses have to deal with."

This move is long overdue. Among the redundant legislation still in place today is the wartime Trading With The Enemy Act, put in place during the First World War to prevent trade with enemy countries. Other scrapped regulations include the age-limit for buying Christmas crackers, which will be reduced from 16 to the European minimum of 12.

Mark Prisk, the Business Minister, believes this is a step in the right direction for the Coalition: "Every 30 minutes a business somewhere has to fill in a form. We have four million businesses in this country - that is a lot of productive time lost."

He cites the liqueur chocolates licence as a classic example of regulation gone bananas: "It is a completely nonsense idea that we are all going to rush into a store and get drunk on the basis of buying 500 packets of liqueur chocolates," he says.

These plans are part of the Government's Red Tape Challenge, which invites businesses and members of the public to suggest which rules could be dispensed with.

Sunday trading laws will stay in place, despite calls for change from small businesses, after employees made a case to government that closing up shop on Sunday enables them to spend time with their families.

John Walker, chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, still believes these cuts are too little too late: 'It is evident that hefty regulatory changes in pensions, flexible working and maternity and paternity are still going to hit small firms hard.

'Some of these regulation cuts being announced today will have no tangible impact on small firms at all as they are outdated and unused anyway.'

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