The British government have put forward the Winter Festival Bill in preparation for next years Winter Festival. A Labour spokeswoman said "The Winter Festival Bill aims to open up the present distribution network to competition, to bring the operation into line with European health and safety regulations and to ensure that the Winter Festival is more responsive to the needs of our modern, multi-cultural, multi-ethnic and diverse society." The Winter Festival Bill was devised by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister following a 48 hour consultation period with representatives from minority groups and the European Union. The Bill will require all homes to complete a health and safety assessment and obtain a Festive Visitor insurance certificate before presents will be delivered for the Winter Festival. When questioned about the cost of the new regulations, Chancellor Gordon Brown said "A tax will be introduced to pay for the administration of the new regulations in England. An extra £5bn has been allocated to cover the cost of the scheme in Scotland and Wales." An investigation by the EU Competition Commission has found that Santa Holding Corporation is operating a monopoly on the delivery of gifts for the Winter Festival and has ordered the industry to be opened up to competition. To this end, the Winter Festival Bill will provide for the establishment of regional franchises which will be tendered for by interested providers. The EU has set aside €300m to help subsidise deliveries to the less profitable regions of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Deliveries across the English regions will not be subsidised but will instead be staggered throughout the end of December and the beginning of January. A spokesman for the SNP immediately objected to the bill on the grounds that gift delivery should be devolved to the Scottish Parliament and demanded that an extra £3bn be allocated to Scotland to offset the costs of the new regulations, whatever they might turn out to be. Under the bill, four new agencies will be set up to administer the operation of gift deliveries under the Winter Festival Bill. Winter Festival Scotland, the Welsh Winter Festival Observatory Body, Your Winter Festival Northern Ireland and Winter Festival Britain will take over the regulation of Winter Festival gift deliveries with effect from the 1st January.
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