Was it a cuddly Budget or did you see it more on the dark side, ie Michael Howard’s way? Leaving aside the freeze on petrol duty and oil companies having to cough up sooner to help cash flow, there was one very interesting announcement in the Budget. Finally there is to be a bonfire of red tape (which we hope won’t leave a sticky mess).

The Government has already claimed to have done this good deed many times. I regularly get emails from various Government departments telling me that it is cutting back on rules and regs when all evidence is so obviously to the contrary.

But now Prudence is to take the advice of Philip Hampton, who has said enough is enough. And so 35 inspection agencies are to be reduced to just nine.

But, and there’s always a but, this move, when implemented, will create ‘super regulators’ – an expanded Health and Safety Executive; an expanded Food Standards Agency; an expanded Environment Agency and so forth.

As the national policy chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), John Walker pointed out immediately post-Budget: “In 1999 independently commissioned research for the FSB revealed that over 300 different types of inspectors had a right of access to business premises. Since 2000, the Government has passed more than 40 new laws that give inspectors the right to enter business premises.”

Walker welcomed the promise of merging inspectorates, provided it is kept, and urged Hampton to ‘go that extra mile’. “Ideally we would like to see an all-purpose inspector. Governments have been reluctant to pursue this idea telling us that it would not be possible for one inspector to know the full range of laws, but this knowledge is expected of our members on a daily basis.” Quite.