Does my right hon. Friend agree that small businesses have a vital role to play in our economic recovery, and that the successful loan guarantee scheme which is operated by both the Government and clearing banks in the United States shows how this can be achieved?
Does the Secretary of State accept that one of the key ways in which to assist small businesses would be to lower interest rates and restore public expenditure cuts, including those in manufacturing industry? Does he not accept that when the Government cut back on expenditure to organisations such as British Leyland that affects thousands of small firms, which then face bankruptcy?
Of course it would be desirable, for all sorts of reasons, to have lower interest rates and a more flourishing manufacturing sector. However, we cannot achieve that quickly in the light of the momentum towards excess spending left by the previous Government.
Does my right hon. Friend agree that if public expenditure increases the public sector borrowing requirement automatically increases, with the result that interest rates must rise?
That may be entirely so, but the hon. Member for Keighley (Mr. Cryer) does not seem to understand that these matters are interrelated. Public spending, if it gets excessive, as it did under the previous Government, has desperate consequences and destroys as many jobs as it seeks to create.
What matters is that the Government should succeed in abating the level of inflation, and that matters more for small businesses than the temporary level of interest rate, even at its present level.