The Conservatives have pledged to help small businesses by slashing red tape.

Speaking at the party conference in Blackpool, shadow enterprise and regulatory reform secretary Alan Duncan said he would address the problem of regulation “hard and fast”.

The Tories would work to reduce the overall number of regulations in place and stop the practice of “turning one page of EU direction into 100pages of UK law”.

He said: “Other countries make products we sometimes just make rules.”

The speech coincided with the release of a report from the Federation of Small Businesses which found that the average small business spends seven hours a week dealing with regulations and paperwork. It said this prevents them from expanding and employing more people.