Gangmasters Licensing (Extension to Construction Industry) Bill Debate
Andrew Bridgen raises his concerns about an increased regulatory burden for the construction industry, particularly at a time when the industry is already struggling to deal with the effects of the last recession.
Andrew Bridgen: I declare an interest, as I am a major shareholder in a food processing business in my constituency. North West Leicestershire is a major provider of building materials and is the base for many large construction companies, as hon. Members are perhaps aware. There is a huge difference between the agricultural and food processing industry and the construction industry, and therefore in the regulatory burden that those industries can carry. The food and food processing industry is a non-cyclical business-parts of it can even be counter-cyclical-and has been almost unaffected by the economic downtown, whereas we know that we cannot say that of the construction industry. I am very worried that any further burdens on the construction industry at this particular time, when it is struggling to deal with the effects of the last recession, could be particularly burdensome. It is not fair to compare the construction industry now with the more resilient food processing industry.
Mr Davey: My hon. Friend is exactly right in his analysis of the construction industry and of how we use licensing as one of the tools to deal with everything from health and safety to fairness in the workplace. We need to consider the conditions that need to be met before something such as licensing is appropriate. We need to consider whether existing enforcement arrangements are inadequate; whether there is hard evidence of illegal activity; where a licensing system would be a proportionate and effective way of tackling the problems that are seen; and where licensing would be practicable, enforceable and, finally, affordable. The Government do not consider that those tests have been met for the construction sector.